From time to time I’ve been on discussion boards where writers talk about music they find inspiring. It fascinates me that people can write and listen to music at the same time. I keep the television turned on when I’m writing, but inevitably CSI or Law &Order take precedence and soon I’m watching, instead of writing.
Now I’m not saying there aren’t times when I force myself to write and keep an ear loosely tuned to the telly. It does happen, but not often. It’s a mystery to me how I can multitask at work, but can’t concentrate on anything else but writing, when I’m writing.
I have music saved to my computer, but when I turn it on, I can kiss any creative endevour goodbye. I’m swaying from side to side, head-bopping, singing along –doing everything else but tackling the keyboard.
That’s not to say music doesn’t inspire me. It does. There’s a huge collection of songs out there to fit just about any life situation, and I use these to my advantage.
Take my 2008 NaNo project. That story is about two lovers, both married, who plan a life together. However, the woman is so riddled with guilt, she doesn’t know whether she’s coming or going. Eventually, she gives up the affair after a near tragedy, which involves her daughter. Then she goes through debilitating emotional upheaval.
In my opinion, you have to hunker down and suffer alongside your characters if you want to write a convincing story. So naturally, I played the cheating woman in my mind – two of them, in fact. I did it so well, I began to feel guilty. To help me along, I had a list of songs I gathered as I wrote the book. The tracks didn’t all come to me at once. Some of them came months apart, but they all played their part in helping me write a story that resonated with my readers.
I couldn’t listen to these selections while I wrote. Too distracting. Instead, I sometimes sat down, eyes closed, and absorbed the words of the songs as they played. Some artistes do a marvelous job of voicing the angst of a distressed lover.
The months it took me to write this story was a disturbing time, chiefly because I was so wrapped up in the lives of the female characters. Two of them were married, and cheating on their husbands and the third was going through agony because of a self-absorbed, irresponsible man. In all honesty, I’ll say that some of my disturbance came from my thoughts about the man on whom I modeled the love interest of the main character. Enough said. But to get back on topic, here’s the list of the songs that inspired me while I wrote the novel Distraction.
Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me – Gladys Knight & The Pips
Cheatin’ Is – Millie Jackson
Have A Nice Weekend – Tom Brock
Hurt – The Manhattans
If Only For One Night – Luther Vandross
If You’re Not Back In Love By Monday – Millie Jackson
Loving Arms – Millie Jackson
My Eyes Adored You – Frankie Valli
Neither One of Us – Gladys Knight & The Pips
No Disturb Sign – Beres Hammond
Oh How I Miss You – Jimmy Cliff
Ruby – Kenny Rogers
Sitting In Limbo – Jimmy Cliff
Sorry Doesn’t Always Make It Right – Gladys Knight & The Pips
Sweet Music Man – Millie Jackson/Kenny Rogers
The Words Get In The Way – Gloria Estefan
Til I See You Again – Gladys Knight & The Pips
Weekend Lover – Odyssey
Years From Now – Dr Hook
You’re My Life – The Manhattans
Hope I haven’t dated myself with my choices.
Does music influence your writing at all? Do you create a playlist for all your novels?