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music: a vacation for your ears

"Ah yes," said the bunny. "That's totally my jam."

Music is a powerful thing. It can affect our mood in an instant, a feat that very few external influencers can manage so effectively. We all have our favourite tunes to listen to when we're relaxing, feeling down, or are ready to celebrate. Aiming to pump yourself up? Just crank the volume a little on a favourite tune. The excitement that washes through you isn't your imagination, it's a reaction your body is having to the music. It's science!

Emotions aside, music can also transport us to other times and places. Fond memories (or sometimes bad memories) come flooding back at the sound of a familiar song. I like to load my iPod up with a varied mix of tunes on a regular basis--old favourites for sure, but I like to try new artists and genres out from time to time too. Earlier this week, when I was out walking during my lunch hour, I loaded up Carla Bruni's Quelqu'un m'a dit and felt instantly transported. Listening to the lyrics (which I only understood bits and pieces of, having only first year University French under my belt) made me feel like I was in a different place altogether. The world around me seemed different. I felt a little like a tourist. Right here in my own familiar work neighbourhood! It was almost... magical. 

A lot of writers listen to specific music when they're writing so that they can be in the right mindset for their story. It's not uncommon for authors to pair playlists with their novels. While there are definitely songs that remind me of certain characters of mine, or situations that play out in my novels, I personally can't listen to to the type of music I usually enjoy when I'm writing (classic rock/modern rock/punk/ska/alternative). The lyrics get in my head and I can't concentrate, but I do like to listen to specific music when I'm getting ready to write (like when I'm reviewing my outline or some such administrative task). So while I don't usually write to music, it is often a part of my process. And yeah, sometimes I can find a good bit of film score to write to (lyric-free!) because it fits the tone of a scene I'm writing perfectly and I think in those cases, it really can help to keep my mind where it needs to be as the words make their way onto the page.

Is music a part of your writing process?


2 comments:

waitwhat said...

I find music gives inspiration for ideas but it's a bit too distracting while writing (a final draft anyway).
-Marielle

Kate Pawson Studer said...

Totally agree--I know there are some people who can listen to music while they work, but for me, it's only doable if I'm doing a routine task. Anything that requires creativity and brain power requires my full attention and music is way too distracting.