Digging Deeper with Music

I’ve often heard the debate between writers – music or no music?

While I can respect both sides and I myself can write with both silence and with music, I do prefer to have a soundtrack to my story. Not that I necessarily need a structured song by song, chapter by chapter playlist matching every moment, but I do create a writing playlist and put songs on there that I think my main character might listen to or songs that might inspire a certain mood my character needs to be in at certain parts of the story.

How do I put myself into the right frame of mind when I enter my writing space?

Usually I can get back into my scene by just rereading a few passages from my last writing session. I picture in my head where I want to the story to go next and off I go. Other times it takes a bit more work. I may have just had an enjoyable conversation with a friend or just woken up in a pleasant mood. Not the best time to be writing a heartbreaking sobfest moment, is it?

When I’m writing the toughest, most intense scenes in my manuscript and I need to connect with my characters – how they are feeling when their worlds spin apart, when they’ve been dealt a devastating blow – it helps if I can access those deeper emotions in myself.

What music does for me.

The problem is that these feelings aren’t always easily accessible on my complicated surface – I don’t always wear my heart upon my sleeve. For me, the right music cuts through my over-thinking, defensive layers and lets me tap into those deeper emotions. When I listen to music like Bon Iver’s self-tilted album with tracks like Perth and Wash. and Holocene, the piercing melodies along with Justin Vernon’s haunting harmonies dig inside, deeper than I let anybody else in. They help me access the raw energy and emotions that I need to help me bring my characters to life. Once I feel what one of my characters is feeling – maybe utterly and completely alone in the world – then I can write it. That is hard for me to imagine in an emotionless vacuum  of silence. I must have access to the emotions first.

Here’s Bon Iver’s Wash. video for your enjoyment.

#writemotivation Check In

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Here are my goals for March:

  • Complete my novel revision
  • Post two blog entries each week
  • Update my journal project and keep it current

One week in on this challenge and I’m fairly wobbly on the balancing act of actual writing versus platform growth and maintenance. I keep picturing Janelle Monae performing Tightrope in my head. I did manage to post at least two blog entries and to work through fifty pages of revision on my latest project, Institutionalized: I’m not Crazy. It’s a young adult (YA) novel about a young girl who is put away in a psych hospital as an out of control alcoholic runaway after she witnesses something she shouldn’t. She struggles with the abrupt changes in her reality brought about by what she witnessed, and how to convince someone – anyone – that she’s not crazy.

Now I only have 240+ pages to go. I just have to make sure I’m revising at least eighty pages a week for the rest of the month. Next month, it’s submission time. *gulp*

I didn’t even touch my journal project. I have been thinking about doing some kind of project/book dealing with autism for a long time, but I haven’t been ready – it’s just too close to the surface, the emotions, for me to write anything good. People are always curious about what life is like with a child autism and it’s difficult to explain in general terms, sometimes. One friend recently asked me if he would ever drive a car. I had to explain that even if he could ever get over his coordination issues, he could never get past his attention issues. Children with autism have difficulty filtering out stimuli and so can easily get overstimulated. Not good for rush hour traffic. Even if an airplane flew overhead – CRASH! So I came up with the idea of journaling my life with my son Trevor for one year. Maybe that could help me show what life with autism is really like and vent all of those emotions at the same time. Trevor turns eighteen next January. All kinds of things will start to change with this birthday. It’s a good year to try it.

Even when I don’t make daily entries, I make brief notes on my calendar and I’m just really behind on putting them down in the actual journal format. That’s the goal for this week for the journal- to get those entries caught up.

How are you doing with your writing goals? I’ll leave you with this motivational song to help you keep the balance going as you try to reach your writing goals as well: