Growing up, music was a way to understand emotions I couldn’t quite put into words. It was also a way to express, in a more socially-acceptable manner, feelings which I could no longer keep inside. It was easier to sing my heart out to Lifehouse or Matchbox Twenty, than to try and explain the emotional turmoil I was going through to concerned loved ones.
Even though I’ve long since graduated from my angst-ridden teen years, I’m still able to access those deep emotions when I need to. I play the songs that marked the milestones of my life, and I’m instantly transported to those moments as I listen to them, I remember my first kiss, my first heartbreak, my first fight with my best friend. This certainly comes in handy as I’m currently writing young adult fiction.
Music has an amazing ability to evoke emotion, and I try to harness this power in my own writing.
I log on to my Pandora online radio account before I even sit down to work. When I’m ready to write, I switch to a station that plays nothing but instrumental music or soundtracks from movies or Broadway shows. When the first strains of that piano piece, or that orchestra music comes on, my mind automatically switches to writing mode.
I also look for soundtracks or songs to fit the scenes I’m writing. When I’m working on a particularly dramatic scene, I listen to doleful songs like Jim Chappell’s “Gone.” Escala’s heart pounding “Palladio” inspires me when I’m writing a heart-pounding action sequence, and my Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Stardust soundtracks play in the background as I flesh out my fantasy worlds.
A lot of authors have been using this technique for years. Fantasy authors Sara Wilson Etienne and Jenn Reese both have specific soundtracks for when they’re writing, as does YA author Cecil Castellucci.
Cecil even introduced me to largehearted boy, the music blog where authors can share playlists for their books. It’s a great site to discover new songs, and I always have a blast finding out what songs some of my favorite authors write to.
Do you listen to music while you write? Do you have specific playlists for each of your novels? Who are some of the artists/ bands on your writing soundtrack?
Nutschell (pronounced new-shell and not nut-shell) is a middle grade/young adult fantasy writer who hails from the Philippines and now lives in sunny Los Angeles. When she’s not masquerading as an accounting clerk, or busy with her SCBWI or CBW-LA duties, she pursues her many curiosities. A Jane-of-all-Trades, Nutschell’s interests include traveling, taking pictures, sketching, playing the guitar and drums, playing basketball, badminton, billiards, and singing in the shower. She also practices the Filipino Martial Art of Escrima, and bakes yummy marshmallow cloud cookies. Nutschell haunts Twitter @nutschell and she blogs at The Writing Nut