Some people must have silence to work, and others need noise.
I’m somewhere in between. Every day noise distracts me, but when I listen to music, I’m focused.
Music makes me happy.
That’s no surprise to those who’ve studied the effects of music on the brain. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m a better writer when I’m listening to music. Music inspires me.
When I’m writing, I listen to music which transports me back to 1895 small-town Texas. Not the songs of that time period. I think that would drive me crazy! The music in my ears has more to do with tone than historical accuracy.
I listen to music that creates a mood. A good story communicates the emotions of the characters. We readers want to feel their joy, sorrow, stress, and humor. But layering in those emotions can be tricky. That’s where music comes in.
I created a playlist of songs that help me as I write. These songs may have no meaning for anyone else, but to me, the emotions and images that flood me when I hear these songs inspire me to take my scenes a little deeper. I’ve categorized the songs by the mood they foster. Try some of them out and see if you have the same take on the music.
Why a playlist?
These songs set the mood for certain scenes. My songs are mostly country/folk, but some are love songs, some are full of angst, some make me cry (Go Rest High on That Mountain is such a tearjerker!). When I go back to add flavor to scenes, if I’m listening to angsty songs, I’m able to make the scene more tender.
But so far, I haven’t found anything to inspire funny words. If you have suggestions, send them my way. But as it stands, when I’m writing something humorous, the music’s off.
Are these my favorite songs? Not necessarily, although I have several that are standard on my playlists, like Jericho, Sweet By and By, Stand Up, and Say Something. Each song makes me think or feel a certain way:
Jericho, for the spiritual struggle between good and evil
Sweet By and By, for its lullaby-like quality and love of family
Stand Up, an anthem for courage during hard times
Say Something, calling out injustice
My favorite these days: You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive, written by Darrell Scott. Nothing compares to the YouTube of Chris Stapleton, Morgane Stapleton, and Patty Loveless performed at the recent CMA awards. There’s such a heightened emotion while they sing, proven by the CMA audience, who are compelled to stand while watching. There’s this raw, gritty, and tender quality to the storytelling as Chris Stapleton and Patty Loveless sing about hard times in their home state of Kentucky. I can’t relate to the time, the situation, or the place…but when I watch the video, her Kentucky is mine. Her ancestors and their challenges are mine, as well. Her music makes the story personal. Check it out here. Even she is moved by the magic of the moment, mouthing “Wow!” to Chris Stapleton at the conclusion.
What Patty Loveless and Chris Stapleton brought to this story, I want to bring to mine. We have different modes of communication, but the same purpose—to move people.
If you’d like to know how to story can to be, go to it here.
What kind of music moves you? Leave me a comment, I’d love to know.