Music While I Write
For some writers music is essential for getting those elusive creative juices flowing, for inducing the correct state of calmness to ensure optimum productivity. For others it is a nuisance, a distraction, making it impossible for the mind to focus because of its inability to tune out the background noise; some people must work in silence.
I am somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. If I am alone and writing I like to have some music playing, just to keep me company. But I do not like to have the volume turned up too far because it can reduce my concentration to nil and I then experience severe mind wanderings.
Different kinds of writing can tolerate different kinds of music (I have deliberately said that it is the writing that does the tolerating, because it is the writing that dictates the mood, not me.) When I am writing a hub, which generally contains opinion and possibly a little factual information, I can listen to music with voices in it. The radio is fine when I am hubbing, if it is a music show and not a chat show. The BBC Radio 2 lunch time debates with Jeremy Vine will not do at all because I am too tempted to fume and rage, and to then abandon the writing completely in order to text or email my opinion in to the radio show. Likewise, music that suits my voice too well cannot be listened to whilst writing is supposed to be in progress. Sometimes I cannot help but sing at the top of my voice. Oh dear. So I have to save my current favourites for non-writing time:
- Michael Bublé (yes, Michael Bublé, deal with it!)
- Eliza Doolittle
All far too distracting, especially that last little lady, who not only forces me to sing, but also causes me to dance - I seriously doubt that there is anyone who can write and pogo around the kitchen at the same time. Anything else should be safe for me to write along to, but I have to take care to not allow the music to colour my work.
When I am writing fiction I cannot listen to music with lyrics, so for me classical is the only option. A classical radio station is no good at all because it has talking in between which I cannot tune out (ads for double glazing, central heating, incontinence pads, etc., very distracting) so CDs only. But, not CDs of classical music from the movies. Soundtracks from Superman, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, E.T. (John Williams's entire back catalogue in other words,) Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean are all just far too rousing and far too powerful. I mean it is ridiculous when you are writing about a school girl with a bad bullying problem, and you suddenly feel an irrational urge to write an orc into the scene. Well, fair enough, it might be nice for said orc, let's call him NarGlok, to come tripping around the corner and spot the bullies laying into your heroine, decide to intervene and rip the bullies' heads off. Nicely done, certainly. It would sort out your heroine's problem, no doubt about that. The only thing is, NorGlok would be unlikely to stop at the bullies, and he would probably eat your heroine as well. Well, that just would not do at all.
So, for me, it has to be classical music that does not create too vivid images, but only induces a creative mood. I have only been able to find a limited selection of music that I find suitable for fiction writing. I would appreciate more suggestions.
- Debussey - perfect
- Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (though sometimes this piece conjures images of sailing on calm seas, and might bring about a little touch of disconcerting sea sickness)
- Something with classical guitar (I am sorry, I know this is vague, but I am not a connoisseur of classical music, and I am still trying to build up my collection)