Music and Happily Ever After

Please note: This post originally appeared on my former blog in March 2012. Now that I’ve moved over to WordPress, I will be bringing a few of my favorite posts with me.

When it comes to writing, I’m no different to most other writers I know – I am more productive with music. As a matter of fact, 99% of my inspiration comes through music and if I’m stumped for getting into the right mood to write a particular scene, I won’t do the scene justice without first putting on a song that sets the stage. Sometimes entire stories have evolved without warning just by an unexpected chord struck by a song, usually at a moment that I wasn’t even thinking about writing at all.

I have three kids that will happily tell you that certain songs become “car songs” that we carry with us and play over and over. They have yet to complain about my obsessive repetition, which is good, because for some unexplained reason I need this in order to feed whatever story demons inside me demand the fuel to create my stories. Sometimes the songs that choose me aren’t even songs that I would otherwise like but I listen and listen again simply because they have tickled something inside me that is important to cultivate. Even more bizarre, often you could take my story and listen to the song that inspired it and wonder how the two ever could exist in my mind simultaneously.

I can’t explain the process but I certainly won’t complain about it. It works. It helps push me from the first chapter onward until I reach the end. It helps me connect with my characters on some deeper, more meaningful level than simply knowing names and a string of facts about that character’s motivations or past history. It compels me to learn more about the people and the worlds I’m creating. It begs me to live in their shoes long enough to weave the magic that is inherent in storytelling.

In my earlier blog post, I touched upon my wonderful obsession with Muse. (The irony of their band name is not lost on me.) I listen to a lot of Muse while writing. A lot. As a matter of fact, I can’t put on their CD Black Holes and Revelations without replaying in my mind my first novel. It almost serves as the soundtrack even if no one else ever has the benefit of seeing or understanding the connection. It makes me smile. It brings back those characters like memories of old friends I used to spend a lot of time with and think of fondly. It makes me reconsider going back to spend more time with those characters. After all, their story is not yet complete. There is so much left to say about The Between World.

But first things first. I’m knee-deep in my second novel and lost in the music that inspires its creation. This time most of that centers around yet another Muse CD titled Absolution. I can’t get enough.

Is there music that is special to your creative process? Is it a specific song, band, CD, or is it a collection of songs that you put together specifically for the purposes of your novel? I’m always interested in the ways others approach writing, or any creative endeavor. Is there a song or band that you would recommend to help put me in the mood to write paranormal? (Suggestions are always welcome!)

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2 thoughts on “Music and Happily Ever After

  1. Mae Clair says:

    I’m weird about music and concentration. If I’m doing any type of computer work other than writing, I’ve a Pandora playlist or a CD going constantly. If I’m writing, I can only have instrumental music, absolutely nothing with lyrics. I find it too distracting. I’ll throw on a CD of celtic harp, piano or something like The Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

    When I’m driving or floating on a raft in the pool, dreaming up story ideas, music is great. But I need that total concentration (or just something soft in the background) when I actually write. I have, however, been known to put a music CD together of songs I think relate to the characters or events in my books after the fact!

    Music and manuscripts do seem to go together! 🙂

  2. stephanieingramauthor says:

    Hi, Mae! I can understand that. Sometimes the lyrics distract me as well. It all depends on what I’m writing, I suppose. I like instrumental too though. One of my favorites is supposed to change your brain waves to make you more creative while listening to it. I don’t actually believe that it does what it claims, but I love the music so I’ll play it often. 🙂

    That’s funny that you’ve created a CD after the story is written. I might have to try that!

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