Listen While You Work

Musical Energy

Today, I’d like to talk about listening to music as you write.  I’ve been finding more and more articles with regard to this topic.  An author who will remain nameless, said something to the effect that if a person could do that, they only listened, and didn’t write; he thought they lied if they said it helped.  I think, and I’m the first person to say we need to edify each other, but that comment sounds light years from the truth.  What’s that old saying about music, and the savage breast?  I believe it kind of works in that fashion – eases the mind, and allows the thoughts to flow effortlessly.  What about those helicopter flights over the Grand Canyon that pipe in the classical compositions – that’s how I envision inspiration for my own masterpiece.  I always find myself struggling for words or stream of thought when I’m left to silence.  I remember reading that Pope John Paul II said, “Music is my only sin.”  I do not believe this is a sin, I understand the arts being here for our enjoyment – what would this world be without your favorite artist.  But, I would in no way want to dispute the Pope, that’s just my opinion.

Therefore, when the words won’t come – when it’s like extracting deep-rooted wisdom teeth, I find breaking out the Cleveland Orchestra, and their version of Rhapsody in Blue or Joshua Bell on his violin playing Song to The Moon from Rusalka relaxing, and calming to the point of productivity.  However, those choices are just me, and believe it when I say, they are also just the tip of my musical iceberg. My mother introduced me to  the industry at a very young age, then in high school, Music Appreciation helped to smooth over the rough edges.  Being accustomed to cleaning the house to it, and getting that job done so much faster, why wouldn’t adding this to the challenge of sculpting that great American novel assist in purging those artful words lying dormant in the back of your mind.

My husband knows how much I love the stuff, so when he purchased my laptop, an iPod came along.  I can’t imagine working without that little gadget.  Nowadays we don’t have to “whistle while we work,” we simply plug ourselves in.  It’s a funny thing though, each day you must perform the test.  On one occasion, classical gets the words flowing, but the next day it could be easy listening, contemporary jazz or soft rock.  It’s always like a treasure hunt, but with tunes.  I found in 1999, when writing that first novel, a love scene would not be a love scene without the right melody.  Usually, I have to go back in time though, and retrieve the Old School Love Songs; they always seem to work best for me.  After I learned that, it carried over, and became mandatory with every scene.  But, I will admit, anything above soft rock – dance tunes, for instance – will not work; they would only have you dancing, and I don’t think a person can do the latest dance moves while trying to write, for crying out loud.

I’ve learned there really is a science to applying the mood of the song to the disposition of the scene.  For instance, if the day is to construct a heart-wrenching setting – say a situation of unrequited love, one wouldn’t tune in to Sammy Hagar’s, I Can’t Drive 55 or Jay Z’s latest hip hop release.  I know that’s silly, I only mentioned that to make a point, and not to insult anyone’s intelligence. But, regardless, your brain will tell you what’s right for the moment.  Sometimes I can get stuck in my Pop/Vocal category for days, and although I’m singing and tapping my toes, the words are still falling on the page.  Because the thing is, you know the song – you don’t have to think about it.  Then, you’re free to consider what the character in your story is going to say next – all at the same time.  Is that ambidexterity?  Making you the ultimate multi-tasker?  Like a Ninja thinker, huh?  Hey, has that been scientifically proven?  If not, a scientist somewhere should get to work on that.  For one, I’d like to know.  So, what am I listening to now – I am, like I said, stuck in that Pop/Vocal category.  Okay, specifically?  I’ve got a mix of Randy Crawford, Barbara Streisand, Adele, Basia, Norah Jones, Gipsy Kings, India Arie, and Michael Jackson, to name a few.  Can you say eclectic? Now, I can’t give you all the statistics on who listens, and who doesn’t or why one should or should not.  But, if you don’t, at least – maybe, I can spark an interest or at least set your mind to the wonder mode.  Take the time to leave a comment on what tunes get your creativity flowing.  In the meantime, I’d like to end this week’s post with a profound quote from the Nineteenth Century English Novelist, Arnold Bennett with his synopsis of this art:  Its language is a language which the soul alone understands, but which the soul can never translate.  Happy listening.

Info on Arnold Bennett courtesy of Wikipedia

Photos courtesy iStockPhoto


4 thoughts on “Listen While You Work

  1. I workout and walk with it, some jazz, some rock, mostly classical. The same when I’m using the stationary bike. It helpful with the cadence in the peddling. There are even times in the office when I turn on the music to either speed things up or slow them down. Don’t think I could exist without music.

  2. I am a semi-retired doctor and semi-professional mandolin player. I wrote most of my book with my mandolin at my side, and played my way through every impasse. It worked great to free my mind to write, especially with my genre, physician bluegrass fiction.

    Dr. Tom Bibey, author, “The Mandolin Case” (Available at this time as a free download for Amazon Prime members)

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