Writing for a song

The title of this entry may be misleading if you recall an old saying, which would refer to performing a task or acquiring goods for little money as “for a song”. However, I’m thinking more along the lines of listening to music while you write.

This is something I do with a fair degree of frequency. And it got me thinking about how I choose the songs which accompany my work. Do I choose them for the feelings they invoke, and how well they match the scene, or is my writing more directly affected by the tone of my music?

If I kept a record of the songs I’ve listened to, you might see a soundtrack to my stories. When I find the right song, I play it on repeat, anything up to several hours at a time. The melody fades into the background, the vocals become something I might hum along with, and the emotions expressed in those sounds become a state I can fall into. There have been a couple of really important tunes which helped shape some of my favourite scenes, but funny enough, listening to those songs now will not transport me into the story. Only the words on the page can really do that.

With this is mind, I think the answer is that I utilise specific music to keep me in the right mindset. Yes, this sometimes means I seek out very depressing music (sometimes I have to write incredibly depressing scenes!), and wallow until I’ve either finished the scene, or grown so sick of the song I have to find something else.

For the curious among you, my most recent listening habits have actually been slightly different from usual, maybe because I have been doing more editing and less creating. I’ve been streaming a radio station that plays music from the 1920s and 1930s. Although it’s a slightly earlier era than in the game, it makes me feel like I’m still playing Fallout 3. And that is good!

Signing off with an update! I re-discovered why I loved the yWriter software (http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html), created by Simon Haynes, author of the sci-fi comedy series Hal Spacejock. It’s organised and packed with useful tabs and features. I do tend to get distracted easily (hence I forgot how much I appreciated this gem), but I should be able to get back into the habit of using this awesome program for all my writing. I imported my current project into yWriter, and got a lot of work done. Nothing like seeing your progress clearly laid out.