Last time, we shared suggestions on how to kick our muse into gear. One of my favorite techniques is using music. With NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month—challenge yourself to write 50K words during November) fast approaching, now is the perfect time to revisit all the ways music can help our writing.
On a day-to-day basis, music—er, rocks my writing in three ways. I use the noise to block out distractions. I use the beat of the songs to pressure myself into typing faster. And I use the mood of the music to evoke the right mindset for the scene.
Six Techniques for Using Music to Help Our Muse
I’ve used music in several additional ways too. Here are six techniques for using music to help our muse:
- Use music to get in the mood. My friend Lynn Raye Harris listens to belly dance stations on Pandora while she’s writing a love scene. A Linkin Park station might be good for fight scenes.
- Use music as a memory trigger. Need to write a heart-breaking scene of betrayal? Try playing the songs you moped to after a bad breakup and tap into those emotions. This can be a great way to write a happy scene when you’re upset or vice versa.
- Use music to identify a theme. Just like movies or characters can have a theme song (Darth Vader anyone?), so can our stories. If a song feels like it “fits” your story, analyze how it makes you feel. Maybe that will help you figure out the theme or emotional heart of your story or characters.
- Use music to inspire ideas. Reading the lyrics to songs might give your muse a concept to run with for a new scene or plot point. One song created a picture in my head that fit a character so perfectly I thought of a whole new subplot for a story.
- Use music to increase your focus. Listening to music with headphones or earbuds can help block out distractions around us. I’ve trained my brain to think of listening-to-music time as “work time”—no Twitter, email, or surfing when the music is playing.
- Use music to create a soundtrack for your story. Some websites link to songs on the internet and let you play them in a certain order. Play the “soundtrack” for a story while writing or editing the matching scene.
Lately, I’ve been running into trouble with that first usage: Use music to get in the mood. Most of my playlists are soundtracks for action-type movies (my current favorite is the soundtrack for Inception) or alternative-rock groups like Linkin Park. Great for writing faster, not so good for matching the moods of my scenes, like, oh say…for a sweet love scene. *smile*
In thinking about this issue, I came up with different moods that might apply to our scenes. Each of these moods would probably require different types of music. We can share our suggestions for matching music in the comments.
Moods of Scenes
That’s certainly not an exhaustive list of moods for our scenes, but it covers a wide variety. My current collection covers the bottom third of the list well, but I’d like to add songs, albums, and playlists for all the moods.
I’ve used sites like Playlist.com, Grooveshark, Spotify, Pandora, and Songza. (Yes, I really like working to music. *smile*) Playlist, Grooveshark, and Spotify all allow you to customize a specific playlist to create a soundtrack. Pandora and Songza both use different methods of creating “stations” you passively listen to. I haven’t played with Songza much, but they have collections for different moods/settings, so I might need to dig into their options more.
They all have their pros and cons. The free version of some of the sites is more annoying with advertising than others. I haven’t decided that I like one overwhelmingly more than any of the others to justify buying an upgrade account, however. Besides, I like having options to suit my mood and not overdose on one station or playlist. I want variety in my songs, albums, playlists, and music sources. *smile*
Do you try to match music to the mood of the scene you’re writing? Are some moods harder to match up with music? Which online music services do you use and like? Do you have suggestions for songs, albums, or playlists for certain moods? Please share (with links if you have them) in the comments!Pin It