04 January, 2009

Musical Inspiration for Writers

I know I have talked about my writerly playlist in the past, but I will not deny the constant inspiration I have found in music. As I was reading through some of the work I wrote a few years ago, I was reminded how much the music of Sting had inspired several of my plotlines. While there was very little actual evidence for the average reader left in the story itself, I could clearly recall the mood and setting of certain scenes and the songs that I was listening to as I wrote them. It was as if the songs themselves had become associated with mine and my characters' memories of that time.

It reminded me of some of the earliest writing I actually produced, when I was about ten. That writing was heavily influenced by music I listened to at that time, and it seemed to become a trend I followed all through my youth. Many of the stories I wrote were responses to favorite songs which gave me a wide variety of interesting topics to write about, and it still does. Because a mood and atmosphere is already created by the song, I find myself wanting to reproduce the moment, or live through it myself in a way.

Music has been a huge element in my life since I was a little girl, and it seems that all along music and writing have gone hand in hand. I think that's something I need to bear in mind when I find myself frustrated with writer's block. To get the plot juices flowing, I need to find music that makes me feel connected to the story itself. For example, two of the novels I am working on the second drafts of now have soundtracks, if you will. One story is set in a small, farm town very similar to where I grew up and live currently. Finding myself in that place requires little more than queuing up Dierks Bentley and Toby Keith. The other novel is set in the Faerie underworld. Gary Stadler and David Arkenstone are just two of the atmospheric elements of my fantasy soundtrack. While I was writing about zombies, I found myself listening to a lot heavy music, dark, violent, but still atmospheric. I actually had a soundtrack I found on iTunes that was inspired by zombie films. It put me in the perfect mood to pull out the cricket bat and start whacking zombies.

Have you ever heard a song that compelled you to write? Has a character ever cried out from the chorus of a song and begged you to dive in and unearth their story?

Sting: When We Dance


Polenth said...

I think while listening to music, but I don't like sound when I'm actually writing. The lyrics don't inspire ideas. I get ideas from the tune though.

Morgan Mandel said...

I can listen to country music for hours and sometimes do. I go to sleep with the country station on and wake up with it. Unfortunately, they don't allow us to listen to the radio at work or I'd listen to it there as well.

It does make good background music for writing.

Morgan Mandel

Anny Cook said...

I love listening to music--but not when I'm writing. I find myself typing the lyrics instead of what I'm working on. One exception is Josh Groban when he's singing in a language other than English. Then it's just music.