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Monday, September 23, 2013

Tuned IN!



I love music.  I sang all through school, and though I haven’t sung formerly in years, if you sneak up on me in my backyard while I’m gardening, you might have to endure my version of “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess, or “Stormy Weather.”  You could catch me singing a tune from My Fair Lady, West Side Story or even a hymn in Latin.  All those years ago, standing up on risers, reaching for a high C, eyeballing the conductor while our voices swooped and fell like invisible birds, songs seeped into my pores.   At the end of those long ago performances, I felt like I could fly.

With that background, it may surprise you to know that I rarely listen to music.  I have 600 songs on my I-tunes playlist but I only reach for it once in a while.  I don’t crank the tunes when working around the house, and while sometimes the radio is on when I drive, more often I travel in silence.  I like to hear what is around me, the cark of a seagull, the wash of the sea, the scurrying of my own rabbit thoughts. As for writing, I know a lot of folks swear by their play lists, but I was afraid of the distraction.

Until last week.  A late bloomer always, I’ve just begun listening to Pandora Radio. What a luxury. That first time, I selected one of the most lyrical performers I know.  Next thing I knew, song after song of evocative music from similar musicians poured down into the depths of me.  I loved it so much, I sat down and worked on my current project while plugged in to Pandora.  Two thousand words later, I was a convert. 
 
In less than a week, I am more than eight thousand words further along on my manuscript.  Generally I'm pleased if I write five-hundred words a day.  But with the ear buds in, I swear inspiration came more quickly, the words jostled each other in my brain in their rush to get out.  The answer to a huge hole I’ve been pondering for months presented itself to me as I wrote and wrote and wrote.  It was if the music floated me on a river through a forest lush with creativity.   

Suddenly, I understand writer sound tracks.  The music carrying me along fits with the theme of my story and in the morning I wake up now, not only anxious to write, but to tune in, too. Today, it seems to me that a song reaching to the depths is the same as a poem, like umami for the mind.  Or a blessing--a combination of thought and nuance that floats its way down like a feather and brushes your heart, just right. 

What do you listen to when you write?


15 comments:

Jennifer Shirk said...

Usually, I don't listen to music when I write. But I have been listening to music as I edit.

But you've convinced me! I'm going to try it!

Old Kitty said...

8,000 words!! Yay for you!! I tend to latch onto one song and play it ad nauseum!!!! Music really does enhance the mood and makes other senses tingle! Take care
x

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Awesome! That's a lot of words. Glad you discovered Pandora. I think it's great for discovering new music. And yes, I always listen to music when writing as it inspires and helps me write faster.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I think music touches our creative side and opens it. I know when I'm writing I do listen to music, but it's got to be turned down low or it will distract me. I do have some songs on playlists that have lyrics but I tend to go for intrumental. The music soars and the fingers type.

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I always run to music and wonder how I managed before I had my iPod. I usually have a movie playing in the background rather than music when I write. I do crank up the music though when I cook or do housework.

Bish Denham said...

I listen to music when I'm writing if it doesn't have words. Melody helps me along like tubing down a peaceful river. Words... other than my own, distract me, confuse me. I'll start listen to the words in the songs and I can't write.

Robin said...

I have yet to try music. I really thought it would be horribly distracting. You are making me rethink that attitude with this post!

Arlee Bird said...

I do like to listen to music when I write. I tend to focus better when I'm listening to classical or mellow jazz. Over the past year I've been going through my entire CD collection bit by bit. Internet radio makes a lot of sense though.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Liz Blocker said...

Is it inappropriate to say OH HELL YES?

Music is an essential part of my process. Sometimes I get too lazy to turn it on, and then I wonder why it's so hard to write. Duh.

For my writing playlist, I'm a huge fan of atmospheric, strange, either wordless or sung not-in-English music, like Sigur Ros, or Moby (Hotel, volume II), Dead Can Dance, etc. It's so creative and out-of-the-box that it help ME do the same thing.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Ohhhh, but I love a good convert!

Music has inspired so much of my stories. It always seems like when I'm stuck, just the right song will come on to unstick me. So excited for you! And so happy you're making such great progress!

Lynda R Young said...

Sometimes I'll turn on a particular piece if I'm after a specific mood that I want to capture while I write. Music is so inspiring.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Intriguing! I'm a long-time singer, too, and music has always uplifted me, but I've NEVER listened to it when I'm trying to write. I figured I'd get so lost in the music, I'd be unable to concentrate on writing. Now you've got me second-guessing myself. Cool.

Catherine A. Winn said...

I love music and listen to it all the time, but I'm one that has to have quiet when I write. Music, noise of any kind becomes an unwelcome distraction.

Words A Day said...

I'm inspired to try it - I love how you describe that river music floats you down. I never use music in the past, that might change:)

glnroz said...

I listen to a recording of rain in the forest...music is a giant part of my personality,, but don't listen to "wordy" music while typing...

Mainly,,,am glad you are doing your writing at such a great pace..
thank, glenn