Mar 10, 2009

Music To My Words

by Valerie Ipson

One of the questions that ANWA founder, Marsha Ward, has often asked in author interviews is "Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what types?" Now I loooooooooooooove music. I crank it up when it's time to do housework or I'm driving in the car, and back when I had a preschooler still around, she'd have to ask me to turn it down. "Trying to play here," she'd remind me.

So, suffice it to say, music gets me going, but it is a distraction when I need to sit at the computer and string two or more words together in a coherent thought. It is too hard to tune out the lyrics and not sing along, and more often than not, I can't tune out the beat that will eventually get me up and dancing. (This generally just happens when I'm home alone...okay, and sometimes driving down the street--depends on the song). If I went the classical route as some authors report, I wonder if that might have the opposite effect and put me to sleep.

I was further intrigued by the whole idea of writing and music when I read that Stephenie Meyer says she can't write without music, and on her website she lists several bands that inspired her through the writing of the Twilight series. Then I started noticing that certain songs on my computer's playlist made me think about my novel's main character, her relationships, and her trials. The songs put me right into her teenage world. Any song by Taylor Swift, for example, makes me think of my character and the boy she's falling for because Taylor's songs are so fun and teenagery and a little bit country. There's a song called All Fall Down by One Republic that absoutely must be the song played during the opening credits of the know, the one they make out of my novel...but I'm getting ahead of myself (slightly!?).

I still need to turn off the tunes when I write, but I listen to them for inspiration before my fingers hit the keyboard. While my fictional world looks like just black words on a page, there's music in there, and when I finally let my main character overcome all her challenges, the beat is going to get her up and dancing! When I'm all done, I'll be dancing with her!

What songs inspire your writing and the fictinal worlds you create?


  1. Sounds like you and me have the same taste in music. I find when I listen to music it awakes the muse in me and I find myself being more creative as well as bouncy. Something good I think.

  2. I like bouncy. It gets the blood pumping and the juices flowing when I feel too tired to write.

  3. I wish I could write while listening to music. I can't. I need quiet. But I do listen to music while walking and daydreaming/plottting about my characters.

  4. Loved it Valerie! I listen to a my Dish TV station "Aura" channel 977. It has eerie, mystical music that puts me in my dragon world. No lyrics. I also have one of those spa alarm clocks, and I often turn it on to the birds chirping, or if the villains are around, I turn it to the storm sounds. Again, no lyrics for me.

  5. I love your post!
    This is interesting to me, I would love to take a poll to see what we all do.
    For myself...I would have to say I do both.
    Sometimes it HAS to be quiet!
    But usually I listen to music....and depending on what I'm writing depends on what "soundtrack" is appropriate.

    I have a playlist of nothing but movie scores - and I have them sectioned off from quiet to intense.

    Then I have a playlist of "love songs" secular/popular. For those amazing love scenes. Dreamy mood music.

    Toward the end of my book, it's Christmas time and while writing those scenes I listened to nothing but Christmas worked perfectly to bring the mood, especially since it was October when I was writing it.

    I LOVE music...and I even burned a cd of all the songs that remind me of my Main Charactor (and named it Riley's soundtrack- My son thinks I'm crazy)- the fun teenage songs that express all those feelings I've been writing about. Too Fun!
    Thanks for your post, I loved it!

  6. I enjoyed reading of your love for music, and its inspiration. I think I've been there and done that.

    Maybe I'd still do better with music playing, but when I'm alone I find I thoroughly enjoy quiet. I read in quiet, I think in quiet, I write in quiet. For the past year I've seldom even turned on my TV. I have an iPod with wonderful music on it, but use it only occasionally, and sometimes exchange the music for poetry or scriptures.

    Don't get me wrong. I haven't become anti-music. I still listen to music. I enjoy music, I am inspired by music. I even write music. I hear it in my head many a time when all is silent.

    I'm probably not making sense. Perhaps my desire for quiet when I'm alone is merely a phase I'm going through. Yet, I like it.


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