Monday, June 7, 2010

Muse vs Music

I love music. I'll listen to it in the car, on the treadmill, or while cleaning the house, but I absolutely can't listen to music while I'm writing. My manuscripts are playlist deprived. That's not to say that I don't have a particular song that I associate with a manuscript. In fact, I do use music as inspiration in between manuscripts...very early on, when I'm brainstorming premise ideas. Once I'm hooked on an idea, the music has to go or my muse gets distracted.

I'm a daydreamer. A typical Pisces. Music gets me dreaming up scenarios, but it also takes me off on wild tangents. I'm one of those people who can't get a song out of their head for the life of them. When I'm working on the first draft of a manuscript (or even revisions, depending on how involved they are), I don't listen to music at all. I would completely lose my focus. When I'm writing, silence helps me hear the conversations in my head. It helps me to concentrate on my internal noise, or what some may call their muse.

If I need a break from working on a manuscript or a way to refresh my muse, I opt for a good book or a romantic movie. I'm very visual, so having an inspirational photo of my hero or heroine is much more effective than listening to music. As for books and movies, they're more concrete for me. Once I reach the end, I can put them aside and refocus on my own story. I may watch or read them again, but I have more mental control over when that will be. Songs, on the other hand, seem to get lost in the labyrinth of my ear and can't find their way out.

That's just the way I work. Different methods work for different people. Are you a playlist writer?


  1. Oh, my gosh, it's like we're kindred spirits! LOL
    I am totally the same way. I LOVE music and have it on all the time--except when I'm writing. And I find books and movies much better for inspiration too!

  2. LOL, Jennifer! I'm glad I'm not alone. Whenever I visit forums where everyone is talking about their playlists, I shrink into the background and wonder why I can't relate. I guess it's like the difference between plotters and pantsers. :)

  3. Rula, that's funny. I thought perhaps it was just me because I read so many comments from wrtiers about how critical music is to their writing and their process. I like music as well and it can be inspirational and really invoke a mood or feel I'm going for, but I absolutely cannot listen to it when I write. I need quiet. Having said that, my house is rarely quiet so I just tune everything out. I can tune out basically everything except music. If it's an actual song rather than just background noise it distracts me too much. I think it's kind of like why I can't read when I'm in the 'create' phase of writing a story. It 'intrudes' too much on the thoughts, emotions and feelings I'm trying to reflect in my own writing. I'll usually have a pic or 2 for inspiration. It's usually the hero. Yeah, it's still all about the hero!

  4. Kaily, 'intrudes' is a great way to put it. And, yes, it's that 'create' phase, or my first draft, when I'm really sensitive to noise. I can block out some background noise, but if my boys get too loud (and that's not unusual :), the words in my head get jumbled with theirs and I get frustrated. I have to get most of my work done in the early am, late pm or while they're at school.

    LOL! Keep your heroes coming!

  5. Nope, no playlist for me! I'm just like you...can't have music on when I write (with one exception of a classical CD that seems to inspire words though...nothing else works.) If I do play music, I go off on a brain tangent and get caught up in the emotions of the songs and often the memories of the songs. Which is fun to do but not conducive to writing at all! *g*

  6. Yep, Amy. I know that musical brain tangent all too well, and the emotions/lyrics do have a lot to do with it. Interestingly, I know several people who've told me that playing music actually helps their concentration because they're forced to focus past the music. For them, silence has the same affect that music has on us. Go figure!