Monday, July 25, 2011

My Muse Is Of The Musical Mentality…

If there was a soundtrack to go with my life, it’d be pretty damn diverse. Everything from Elvis – I can’t help falling in love with you (my grandfather’s favorite song) to Marilyn Manson – Personal Jesus. Other than books—and food—music is my thing. Oh. And animals. And the outdoors…

Okay. I have a lot of things.

Seriously though, music is a huge part of my existence. I can think back to most of the crucial events in my life and tie them to a song. Sometimes it’s a tune from that particular time period. Other times it’s something newer. Something that reminds me of the event. It could be anything from a single line or chorus, to the singer’s voice. Disturbed – Inside The Fire reminds me of a very dear friend. Not only does the laugh in the beginning of the song sound just like his, but he took his own life two years ago.

When I think about my husband, it’s Vain – Without You. He played it for me one of the first few times we hung out. When I hear Loudon Wainwright – Dead Skunk—and yes I have this on my Zune—I think of the trip Hershey Park my family took when I was twelve. There was a skunk, a Nun, and some candy bars. Don’t ask.

When I hear Muse – Supermassive Black Hole, I think of vampires. Playing baseball.

Come on. You know you do, too. No one’s judging. Promise.

This applies to my writing as well. Scenes play out in my head like a movie. And everyone knows all good movies need a killer soundtrack. A playlist for perfection. For my latest fight scenes, it’s been Marilyn Manson – Ka-Boom and Limp Bizkit – Break Stuff. Buckcherry – Bliss is all about my hero and heroine. And Ke$ha – Blow helped me write an awesome chase scene revolving around a rave. (PS if you haven’t seen the video—watch it. Funny as hell)

If a scene isn’t working for me, it’s usually because I haven’t found the right music to go with it. Eight times out of ten, if I don’t find a suitable tune, I scrap the scene. Sounds drastic, eh? But it’s seriously how my brain works. I did NaNo a few years ago and it wasn’t until recently that I figured out why the manuscript never worked. Every word was forced, and when I went to revise, I found myself wanting to guzzle the stuff under the sink rather than work on it. I was never able to come up with a decent playlist. I never felt the characters.

Which digs deeper. To create a playlist for a WIP, at least for me, I need to get into my characters heads. I need to know them. If I don’t know them, and I can’t feel them, then I sure as hell can’t pick out music for them. If I can’t pick out music for them, then I can’t write them.

What about you guys? Do you write like this? Live like this?

Share so I don’t feel like such an incredible goober :)


Sarah Gilman said...

Oh, yes! I often write to music (though I need quiet to edit). A must for mood!

Kristin Lenz said...

I feel like a goober for NOT listening to music while I write. I hear of many authors creating playlists for their stories/characters, and how wonderful to then share that music with your readers as well. But I write in silence - there's already enough going on in my head.

Now that you've provided all these great links to songs, I'm going to click away and enjoy! (While I cook or exercise, but not while I write.) Thanks for sharing, Jus.

Lucianne Rivers said...

A playlist for a WIP? Love it! Why didn't I think of that. Off I go to make the 2011 version of a mixed tape...

Christa said...

Well, songs strike me as matching my books, but I don't know enough about music to have a WIP soundtrack. Plus, I need to work in silence so there's that. I envy you music. The soundtrack to my life wants to be the Sex Pistols, but really, it's Radio Disney. Sigh.

Shea Berkley said...

I love music, but I could never write to it. I'd end up writing down the lyrics instead of what my characters are trying to say. LOL I like the idea of putting together a sound track for readers. Too fun.

Katy said...

I like silence when I'm actually writing, but I still make extensive playlists for each of my manuscripts to listen to pretty much any time I'm NOT writing. I start my playlists before I begin writing, then add songs as I add scenes. I like my playlists to flow with the flow of the story.

Great post, Jus, and I love that you mentioned vampires playing baseball. Muse always reminds me of Twilight too. :)

Katie McGarry said...

I write in silence, but listen to music at every other moment in my life. The muse for my books is totally music! I love this posting Jus. And yes - I do think of vampires playing baseball when I hear Super Massive Black Hole.

Kurt Hampe said...

What else would vampires play? Besides cricket, I mean. The sport has to have bats.

Seriously, though, this is a good post. If music works for you, then that's all that matters. Exalt in your gooberdom. I rarely listen to music while I write, but believe me, I have goob deep down in my soul.

And when you need to write a scene about a guy who's in the dumps because he can't get any love, check out Del Amitri, especially their early albums Change Everything and Twisted. Got to love a lyric like: "Nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all. The needle returns to the start of the song and we all sing along like before. And we'll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow."

Lisa Kessler said...

Great blog! :)

I use music when I write too!!! And when I read "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You" I was instantly transported into one of my Werewolf books because that song was on that playlist...

Music works like pavlov's dog doesn't it? LOL

Lisa :)

Aubrie said...

Great post about music! I write to music all the time: but I use classical music with no lyrics. That way, I can come up with my own.

Kristen Simmons said...

Oh God. I totally think of vampires playing baseball. LOL.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm like Kristin. I don't listen to music when I write. But it sounds like it really works for you.

Jus Accardo said...

We've been out of power allll day, so I'm playing catch up.

Sarah - I think I need the music even more when I edit, lol.

Kristin - I envy the people who write in silence. I work right at the dining room table and the TV is right in the next room. My poor husband has a hard time hearing while I work :D

Lucianne - Lemme know what you come up with!

Christa - How about the Sex Pistols dressed as Disney Princesses? (I need sleep :P )

Shea - OMG. I've actually done that before!

Katy - That song has been stuck in my head ALL day.

Katie - Do your H/H have a song? Love to know what it is!

L.D. Robwell said...

I have to have music playing. I try to base it on the moods of the story, the people and the themes I plan to explore.

Tricky is my fave in general.

With my project I listen to M.I.A., massive attack, rage against the machine and Glee.

Jus Accardo said...

Kurt - Gooberdom. LOVE it! Running off to check Del Amitri after this :)

Lisa - I think it's like the first song I ever remember hearing because my grandfather sang it all the time!

Aubrie - I've got a few classical tunes in some of my playlist. Very relaxing!

Kristin - I swear that song has mind control abilities or something.. :D

Natalie - I tried working without it a few times. Totally couldn't concentrate. Thanks for stopping by!

jenn said...

I absolutely agree that tying music to writing is great. Although I am not a writer, I can truly relate to you in a way because I feel music centers around the mind. I use music all the time whether it is to make a difficult day seem better, accomplishing tasks I dislike or to refresh my ideas through the day, music is there with me. Music surely has been an important part in my life and I continue to become inspired by it.

Nicola Marsh said...

Writing to music always interests me, Jus.

I know some authors who absolutely have to have music to write, I'm the opposite. My day is filled with noise and kids, so when I sit down to write at night I love peace!

I've tried writing to music but it distracted me.

Love how we all have different processes!

Rachel Firasek said...

I have a kick-a&& playlist for Piper's Fury, but my phoenix series was much harder to develop. I think my fave song on the list is Southwest Voodoo by Insane Clown Posse. Jus, I hear you on the mood setting the music. ;)

Jus Accardo said...

L.D - Rage is awesome! :)

Jenn - Thanks for stopping by :)

Nicola - I know, right? I love hearing about other authors processes.

Rachel - The Clowns kick some serious butt! :D

Boone Brux said...

I'm jealous of anybody who can write to music. I find myself kicked back and daydreaming if I have music on. Plus, I would spend as much time creating a playlist as it takes to write the dang book.

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Colette Ballard said...

I LOVE finding that perfect song or line that fits with my story, but i can't write while listening to it. I get swept up in the lyrics and then my brain makes a long detour...

Kurt Hampe said...


Looks like you stirred up some passion. As long as we're listing bands, I'll show my age by adding Candlebox and Cracker. And in mentioning Del Amitri, I should have noted their first full album, Waking Hours.

In my days as a software instructor, I'd listen to the hardest rock I could find on the radio to get pumped up for work. Then I'd listen to classical on the way home to come down. One day, when I was teaching far away, the carpool listened to all of Pink Floyd The Wall on the way to work. I don't think we said more than five words the whole way. I've tried listening to it when I try to write, but I end up incorporating the ideas behind the lyrics rather than my own ideas.

Good post.

Jus Accardo said...

Boone - Creating the playlist is half the fun of writing the book :D

Colette - I have my fair share of detours, trust me :P

Kurt - Candlebox is AWESOME :D