Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Sounds of Inspiration

What I'm reading: Snow Blind, by PJ Tracy

And, thanks, Terry, for your great post. Wonderful bears!

Every writer has "ideal" writing conditions. Some like crowded, busy venues, others sequester themselves in closet-sized rooms. Some want to be outdoors. Some write in the early morning hours; others can't create until well after the sun goes down. Some like a cup of coffee, while others might prefer a more potent libation.

I find I tend to edit in the morning, and develop my full head of 'new material' steam in the late afternoon. I think it's a subconscious knowledge that I've done all the "real life" stuff and won't have any more interruptions.

I also have my writing music playlist. It runs for an hour, so I know how long I've been working when it's finished. It's familiar, so my brain doesn't pay attention to it on a conscious level.

I thought I'd share my playlist along with the 'why' of my choices, and how they relate to my work. I was trying to figure out how to get my iTunes playlist onto Blogger, but when blog crawling (Thanks, Mason Canyon!) I saw, another option and gave it a try. Fingers crossed that it works. I wasn't able to find one of the cuts from my Clannad album, and that's probably the only melody nobody would recognize, but I figured I'd give embedding the playlist a shot. And I've listed the songs as well, along with what they inspired.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones!

Bridge Over Troubled Water ... Simon & Garfunkel
This was a basic theme for Finding Sarah – Sarah wanted total independence; Randy had to make her understand she could rely on others.

Building A Mystery ... Sarah McLachlan
A mood piece. An early fan fiction author introduced me to her.

Canon in D Major ... Johann Pacelbel
This turned up in When Danger Calls.

City of New Orleans ... Arlo Guthrie
Easy rhythm, easy listening.

Desperado ... The Eagles
Provided 'angst' moments for heroes, especially Ryan in When Danger Calls.

For My Lady ... Moody Blues
Inspired Words, my first short story (once I realized it wasn't going to be a humorous piece)

I Am A Rock ... Simon & Garfunkel
Provided insights into Sarah's back story for Finding Sarah

Leader of the Band ... Dan Fogelberg
Lyric line provided the 'click' moment for Blake in What's in a Name?

Scarborough Fair/Canticle ... Simon & Garfunkel
Mood piece

Sonata No. 8 in C Minor Op 13 (Pathetique)... Beethoven
Heard this and knew Randy in Finding Sarah could play piano. It became a turning point for him when he played it in the book

Sound of Silence ... Simon & Garfunkel
Mood piece; back story for Sarah in Finding Sarah

Take it to the Limit ... The Eagles
When I heard it, I knew characters would have to dance with it somewhere. Ended up as a "h/h first meet" scene in When Danger Calls.

Thios Cois na Tra Dom ...Clannad
Mood piece – have no clue what the Gaelic lyrics mean. Couldn't find it on the Playlist site.

What a Wonderful World ...Louis Armstrong
Mood piece. Dreamy quality.

Your Wildest Dreams ... Moody Blues
Lyrics provide character inspiration in general. No specific character; bits in several of them.

So - what's your writing (or working) environment like?


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

This is something that's interested me for a while, Terry--the connection between music, work pace, and inspiration. Yes, I was going to blog on it!!! (For those of you that don't know this, Terry and I are totally simpatico with our blogging ideas.) :)

I like your playlist. I sometimes pull up about 12 windows on YouTube and make up a playlist that way (of stuff I don't have on my Ipod.) This is ineffective and distracting, though--I can easily get knocked off-course on YouTube. I'll have to try that link.

My work environment *does* need to have some background music.

Mystery Writing is Murder
Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

Terry Odell said...

Elizabeth - my kids are good about giving me iStore gift certificates, and around here, Office Depot often has promotions where they give away iStore cards with purchases of toner, etc. And heaven knows, I go through that stuff! I've never gone to YouTube looking for music. Heck, I've never gone to YouTube looking for anything. I only go when someone sends me a link. :-)

I only did the thingie because I couldn't figure out how to get my iTunes library playlist onto my blog. Too bad, because the one missing song is one of my favorites, and I'd love to share it!

P.L. Parker said...

I keep a screen open at work and during my breaks and whenever I can sneak a moment, I add to the story. Nothing like worrying about being caught to spice up the danger. Home doesn't work. Too many males wondering why I'm not paying attention.

Marie Tuhart said...

Now that vacation is over and I had to go back to my day job office, I use my alphasmart, I write first thing in the morning (started doing this Mid-December) and it works much better for me. I'm at work early (5:30 a.m.) by the time I get home at night (after 4 p.m.) and finally get a chance to sit down and write, I'm tired, the brain doesn't function well. So mornings are my time to write.

I like your songs, Terry. I do have the radio on at work, at home ususally the TV, but it's white noise to me, I rarely know what I'm listening to.

Sassy Brit @ said...

I'm a night owl, and like working in the peace and quiet!

Great post.

Happy New Year, Terry!

Terry Odell said...

PL - Now that hubby has retired, we're adjusting to being home together. Headphones are a must!

Marie - I like the familiarity of my playlist, I tend to be distracted by the radio.

Sassy - thanks for stopping by. Nice to see everyone has found what works for them.

Mason Canyon said...

Thanks for the mention Terry. I so want your playlist. I love all the songs on it. I especially like the idea of knowing you've wrote long enough when the music stops. A great idea to use when I'm making my travels through blogdom, then I'll know I should stop for awhile.
I'm not sure how you can add the missing song. I've got a friend who's a computer wiz, I'll ask him.

Terry Odell said...

Mason - no problem. Glad to give credit where it's due. And glad you enjoyed my list.

Linda Poitevin said...

Nice playlist! I'm another one who writes best with music, and the kind of music I play is critical to how well a scene works. I discovered that when trying to write a car chase scene to Bach's violin concertos...couldn't for the life of me figure out why the scene was so awful (slow) until I plugged into one of my daughters' playlists by accident, hit some hard rock, and the scene practically sprang to life in my head. I've been building my own playlist ever since! Excellent post, Terry. :)

Mary Ricksen said...

I'm with Sassy Brit, just give me peace and quiet, maybe a breeze off the jungle in my yard, and I will write. Sometimes I find music distracting. I could never do homework with music or TV on.
However, I think some pre-inspiration would help!

Shawna Thomas said...

Hi Terry,

Like you, I have a playlist. The songs help me immediately get back into character of find the 'mood' of a scene.

I tend to write in the morning and edit in the afternoon. Around here, the mornings are quiet but the afternoons are full of children and interruptions. It's easier for me to stop editing than writing.

Thanks for an awesome post.

jan springer said...

I tend to write best outdoors in the sunshine via longhand, sitting in a lawn chair (eating potato chips)and listening to the wind or the birds. lol
I used to sit on the frozen lake up at our cottage with a fire going (lots of floods when the top layers melted) and I would write while sitting on the lawnchair wearing warm mittens...but now it's just too cold and I stay indoors...I must be getting old. :-)

Great post Terry!


Silver James said...

Thios Cois na Tra Dom sort of means to walk down to the beach (or strand). My Gaelic is far from perfect but I love Clannad and Enya, too!

This is a wonderful playlist and several of those songs are on my own. I tend to find CDs that work as a soundtrack for the book/scene I'm writing. Now that I have an iPod, iPhone, and Macbook to sync up, I hope to sit down one day and get all the songs separated into playlists to match the books I downloaded the song for. I've started matching songs to my characters for some strange reason. One more thing to procrastinate with? *nods* Probably! LOL!

Great post, Terry.

Carol Kilgore said...

When I create on first draft, I like music. Doesn't matter who or what. Something's nearly always playing. When I start to edit, instrumentals only. Vocals get in the way of the words on the page. When I'm getting down to the nitty-gritty word-by-word stage of editing, however, I need quiet.

I like your list :)

Terry Odell said...

Linda - I used to do data entry and quickly learned Scott Joplin was NOT a good choice!

Mary - I don't like a lot of noise - could never do original work in public surroundings, although Allison Brennan writes most of her books at Starbucks listening to loud rock music.

Jan - longhand brings me to a complete halt! I could never read what I'd written. And where's copy and paste on a pen?

Silver - THANKS for the translation -- that's probably why the sounds of seagulls are in the background of that track. It does fit.

Carol - I'm more the opposite. Music inspires the draft, but once I know where I'm going, I'm not so picky about what I'm listening to as I refine.

Terry Odell said...

Lynne- didn't mean to skip your comment. With no kids around anymore, I don't have those issues. But my brain seems to require a couple of hours of getting the 'real life' stuff done before I can create. So I edit the previous day's work first, do all my chores, blog crawl, etc., to get it all out of my system before settling in.

Roz Morris aka @Roz_Morris . Blog: Nail Your Novel said...

Linda - I had a similar experience with a chase scene. It was all really boring until I put Fatboy Slim on. Then it got cheeky and boy it MOVED!

Nice post, Terry. I listen to any old music in the first draft stage, on headphones while writing. Then in the revise stages I work in silence, but go for drives and listen to the radio. Often a song comes on and takes me by surprise by crystallising the key emotion of a scene. For instance, Seal's Crazy came on Radio 1 - hardly original, but the right song at the right time for my characters. Suddenly what the hero was thinking came sharply into focus. I go on like that, plucking songs out of the air and building a playlist that becomes a soundtrack for the book.

Terry Odell said...

dwc - those click moments are fantastic, aren't they? And I can't make a song match a character; it has to happen. So when I'm still developing the characters, I tend to listen to random music, and something connects.

Jemi Fraser said...

Very intersting! I also have music playing when I write, but I just set it on shuffle. I have almost 1000 songs on my list and I like the variety.

Terry Odell said...

Jemi - I do that when I'm 'brainstorming' but when I need to settle in, I don't want to run into the 'wrong' kind of song. Trying to ignore it, or stopping to hit 'skip' can pull me from the mood.

Anonymous said...

Cool post. I make playlists according to my pov characters. I totally dig my ipod. : )

Rock on, Terry!

Drue Allen
The Cost of Love, 3-17-10

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Drue. Music has so much to offer.

Maryannwrites said...

I can't work while listening to music. The music always pulls me out of the story. I even had trouble focusing on filling out a form today while playing a CD

Jana Richards said...

Hi Terry,
I fall into the "can't write while playing music" camp. I find it too distracting. Even at work at the day job, if I've got something I really need to concentrate on I have to turn off the radio. I guess I've got a one-track brain!


Terry Odell said...

Maryann, Jana - for me, it'll depend on what phase of the writing I'm in. I wouldn't use a radio if I had to concentrate because it's 'unfamiliar'. I'm more likely to listen to the radio when I'm not writing, because that's where my click moments come from. Once I have the 'right' music, it'll go on my playlist.

Megan Johns said...

I need silence to write, but frequently music can put me in a creative mood and trigger ideas. I love the way you have related pieces of music to specific works

Terry Odell said...

Megan - I usually plot when it's quiet, then write to music!