Music helps me write. There are those songs which put me right back into the tiny middle school gym with a bunch of my classmates, searching for the courage to ask a partner for a dance. I hear those songs and still wonder, did I look cool? Did I hold her hand right?
There are those songs that remind me of camping trips with my dad and brothers, where I can smell the bacon mingled with the campfire smoke and taste the sand, grinding into my teeth with the charred bacon. I remember the feeling of sleeping restlessly through a cold night only to spend most of the next day playing in a frigid river with ninety degree sun beating down.
Some songs take me back to my teaching and school counseling years. When I hear those, I remember the youth who came to me for advice, or who struggled through class, or who dealt with some situation at home or with peers.
Listening to music puts me in certain time periods, and also certain moods.
My mood and focus improve when I can listen to music. I must need some noise in the background to accompany my thoughts as they swirl into words on the page.
I discovered the value of a playlist on my iPod really improved my attention to my story and more importantly, the characters within.I listened to a playlist when writing my recent middle grade novel. It helped me through first draft and through many rounds of revisions and edits. It is filled with an eclectic mix of songs which span four decades and include genres of rock (hard and soft), country, and praise and worship. I’ll go back to it I ever write a sequel.
For now, I’m creating a new playlist to accompany me and the cast of characters in my new secret project.
So, the next time you have trouble putting words to the page, consider letting music help you find a mood and voice for your characters.