Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Writing With or Without Music

Music is a big part of my life.  People like me wander around with our own private soundtracks in our heads, can't walk through a door without hearing some kind of theme-song, and generally find that there are few, if any, times when the inner monologue is silent.  As a former professional musician, music says so much about my mood and current disposition, that most folks who know me know how I'm feeling by what song I'm playing on the guitar.  But, unlike many writers that I know, I can't write with music.  It just doesn't work for me.  I know writers who can't feel the muse beat her little wings unless they have Motzart or Ozzy blaring in the background.  Nothing wrong with that, it just doesn't work so well for me.  For me to write, I need silence.  I'm too easily distracted by the beauty of stringed instruments or the angst of the vocals to try to work while its playing.  It's maddening, yes, but like I said, that's what works for me.

For others, however, there's a long list of musical masterpieces that bring out their inner Lovecraft.  Maybe it's right for you, and maybe it isn't, but you'll never know unless you try.  So here's what I suggest:  Get some really good music.  Most folks tend to focus on stuff without words, but that's really your preference. Get music that moves you.  For me, I love listening to the haunting melody of Tubular Bells (if you don't know what this is, slap yourself with a baggie full of split-pea soup), Ave Satani from The Omen, and just about anything Danny Elfman's ever written.  Then sit in front of your computer with your eyes closed (which doesn't work very well if you can't touch-type) and let the music wash over you.  Pictures will form in your head, scenes will play out as dictated to you by the music, then start typing.  Don't worry about misspellings or grammar at this point, just type.  Let the scene come through your fingertips.  When the song's over, look back over what you've written.  Sometimes it's good.  Sometimes, it's crap.  Either way, it's something new to try.  Experiment around with different music and different moods.  It doesn't work for me, but some writers swear by it.

Write on!

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