It’s been a long time since I have blogged here. It’s been a long time since I wrote much of anything for myself. I write a lot for other people. Blogs, articles, manuals… pieces of content that are requested and delivered.
It’s a hollow, empty thing, to write often and yet never for yourself. It helps me to keep the gears turning, sure, but it doesn’t sate the creative monster that lurks around the corner. The music in the words can still play but the voice isn’t mine. When you’re writing content for a company or ghostwriting for another person, your voice needs to fade. The voice must match all the other content for that person and for that brand.
So anyway. I’m finding my voice again. For the first time in about two years, I am writing
for myself again. And not just a blog post here and there because I am suddenly inspired by something on the internet.
I’m actively drafting again.
For me, one of the first steps to writing creatively is to find the right music. It tethers me to the mood and the feel of what i am trying to write. Sometimes, that means a specific artist. Other times, it is a collected mess of things that don’t make sense individually but make sense with that chapter. Or they make sense for that character.
Veronica Roth, author of Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant, had this to say on her blog:
“…when I find songs to write to, I don’t really consider what genre the music is or how respectable the band is or any of that. If it makes me think of Divergent characters or scenes, it’s on the playlist, no matter how I feel about the artist as a whole.”
I find that my sentiments mirror hers. The songs that I am writing to, at the moment, help me to keep my voice and my tone in the feeling of the story itself. I can’t write without music and some nights I will stay hunched over the laptop with my eyes covered, letting the music lend a hand in my creative process.
I also find that wearing headphones and tuning into a good soundtrack helps me to focus. The temptations of television, twitter and Facebook fall away. I become more immersed in the world, in the words and with the characters in my head.
When choosing songs, I sometimes take inspiration from soundtracks. They already evoke a mood. The soundtrack for Ink, a Jamin Williams film, is amazing. The music is dark and hopeful all at the same time.
Spotify has been immeasurably helpful in curating a good playlist. There are a number of writing playlists that authors have published and lists Spotify has assembled that strike specific moods and feelings. The “Deep Focus” list is a rich and atmospheric instrumental list that is great for writing. (And incidentally, for debugging code.) When you find songs you like, they have suggestions for related artists and the ability to generate a radio station based on that song. Like Pandora, only with the ability to create your own list. Victory. If you want to share in my twelve hours of music, you can check it out here.
Whatever helps you to stay focused, use it. Let the music help you find the words and let the words make their way to the page.