I spend a great deal of time by myself working and since I’m not in a cube farm and I don’t have any co-workers to annoy (unless you count the two dogs, two cats and two children and really I take a great deal of joy in annoying them!) I’ve come to rely on music to make the long hours more pleasurable. Well, that and a very expensive candle habit I’ve developed (my new fav is lemon-eucalyptus). When I’m working on my work writing and diving into endless operations manuals and picky formatting I listen to something really driving and pulsing like Velvet Revolver, ACDC and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Being the bright girl that I am it only took me one and a half manuscripts to figure out that listening to music while writing things less boring than restroom cleaning schedules and cash management procedures really enhanced my writing time.
For my current WIP I’m using omniscient narration, which means I really need to be inside the heads of every character - not just the hero/heroine. This story is about a magical florist who marries a gay man to allow him to make his own medical decisions as he’s dying. So, I live intown and have my share of neighbors I’ve interviewed and am pretty close to, but I’m not a dying gay man. Developing a playlist for Craig that I listen to each and every time I’m trying to write for him gives me an instant connection with what that character is feeling. So, here’s Craig’s playlist, just to give you an idea:
- Somewhere Only We Know (Keane)
- Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand (Primitive Radio Gods)
- All These Things That I’ve Done (The Killers)
- After All (Dar Williams)
- Fountain of Youth (Grant Lee Phillips)
- Mercy (Duffy)
- King of the Road (Roger Miller)
- Lay All Your Love On Me (Mama Mia Soundtrack)
- Mercy of the Fallen (Dar Williams)
- Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Roger Daltry)
- Comfortably Numb (Dar Williams)
- Bye, Bye, Blackbird (Joe Cocker)
The movement of the playlist I’ve set up for this character follows the trajectory of his own character arc so by the time I hit the last few songs of the playlist I’m feeling really sad – which is pretty much how the character feels. I’m able to instantly put myself into character just by using the music as a cue. I have a similar list for each character and sometimes I just play them all together one after another.
How do I find songs? After several years of working this way I kinda know the minute I hear something on the radio or within my own music collection that I need to note it. I connect with music, though, so I get that weird Emily Dickinson moment where the top of my head buzzes.
Anyone else have a way of using music to enhance writing?