(I know it’s the day before Halloween, so you’d think I’d be writing something vaguely seasonal, but I’m not, mainly because I don’t have a picture to show you! Maybe next week.)
Music breathes in just about everything I do, not unlike how writing and characters and plots dance in my head no matter what else I’m thinking about. So, for obvious reasons, these things tend to help one another, particularly when I’m having trouble.
I don’t always write listening to music, particularly when I’m so hyper-focused (or trying to get a ton done really quickly) that I fail to notice that I’m not listening to anything. But if I’m even an ounce less intensely banging out words, I notice the quiet in my head and I try to fill it up.
How I fill the silence, though, depends on the project.
I have a playlist of 4 songs which I will put on continuous, permanent repeat at times, especially when I don’t have any particular themesongs in mind for whatever I’m writing. If I don’t mind words and lyrics in my music, and I don’t have specific songs I am using to drive myself or the narrative or the atmosphere along, I go for my set of four:
Desert Rose by Sting
Sound of Silence by Disturbed
A Song of Storm and Fire from the anime Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle by Yuki Kajiura
Yoake Umarekuru Shoujo from the anime Shakugan no Shana by Yoko Takahashi
When I don’t want sung lyrics in English but I don’t mind words in general, I often pull up the Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle soundtrack, or, if I’m in a really bright mood, the music from the anime Macross Frontier by Yoko Kanno. The advantage of both is that I know all the songs really well and I know all the lyrics, even in Japanese, and I can generally listen to them without being distracted. The disadvantage is that, if I’m even slightly likely to get caught up and NOT focus without singing along in my head, they can bring me to a complete and total halt in a matter of minutes.
Lately, if I’ve wanted music with no lyrics (in English or otherwise), I’ve been drawing on the instrumental soundtracks by Ramin Djawadi, with particular emphasis on Iron Man and Pacific Rim. Game of Thrones works, too, but I don’t love it nearly as well.
And then there are stories and series which have their own specific soundtracks.
For example, my Tears of Revelry series from 2013-2014 was written with a very particular list of songs associated with it:
Seven Devils by Florence + the Machine
Remember the Name by Fort Minor
We Are One by 12 Stones
Lexington by Alpha Rev
The Temple Steps Alight the following year had a soundtrack I actually described in detail in my massive “here’s what all went on in my head while writing this behemoth” story:
Through Glass by Stone Sour
I Will Not Bow by Breaking Benjamin
Bright Lights and Cityscapes by Sara Bareillis
Aquarius by Digital Daggers
The entirety of my Fate Is A Gift series has been given a single anthem, which I really only identified around the time I was writing #14 in the series: All These Things That I’ve Done.
The series that’s been going up all year, The Death-Knell of Silence, has a soundtrack of one song per book/act in the story, but I’m going to refrain from putting them up here because the last one hasn’t gone live yet! Similarly, the stories I’ve written this year that will go live next year have soundtracks of their own, with a whole bunch of new music I’ve recently discovered (with a lot of help from Sarah and her various radio stations).
If you ever hear an AWESOME song that you think to yourself, “Hey, that would make a good theme for a story,” send it my way! This past year, I’ve added more music than usual to the ranks of the songs I use for soundtracks and inspiration and chapter titles, and even themes. A few of the songs Sarah found for me actually induced me to write something new.
So if you have something, let me know! Who only knows what it will inspire me to write next time?
Of all the songs I’ve ever associated with writing, though, there’s one which always, always works for me. One song which, no matter how distractible I am, no matter how hard it is for me to get my words moving, will center me and reignite the part of my brain that can think and create and write. One song in which I lose myself, and always find myself.
And, no, I have no idea WHY it’s this one. But I’m going to trust in it to carry me today and tomorrow for the end of my writing year 2017!