It’s hard to get your muse in gear and actually get your work done by and by. Whether that work is writing or anything else in life that requires even a modicum of attention and energy, there are times when procrastination is key and my best friend and keeper. I know that I sometimes procrastinate without reason, even if the only one I’m disappointing is myself and a perhaps overly large pile of laundry that I’ve meant to fold and/or hang up for like, three days now.
During my writing, editing, or basically anytime I’m in front of the computer, you can guarantee one of two things. One, I will have a word document open in the potential that I will get writing done, and two, that I will have music playing. Doesn’t matter what music, unless I’m in a routine obsession with a particular song—you know, the ones that you play over and over until you’re sick of them?
They literally almost couldn’t fit all of the 80s in there into this picture.
Pandora will be coasting through everything from classical music to dubstep like my own personal tunage fairy that constantly batters me with ads. (PAY for music? Please, Internet. I grew up in the Napster and Limewire era, friend.)
While I absolutely love listening to music as I work, I know that the wrong music can be utterly devastating to writing. For instance, sometimes it’s impossible to be able to write while a song with lyrics that you know plays. I have occasionally found myself typing the words to the songs, completely oblivious that I’m doing so until it’s too late and I’ve lost my original train of thought.
I once attended a school for graphic design before switching my degree to creative writing, and I had a lovely Russian art teacher for a semester whose job it was to teach some kids who had no formal training how to draw still-lifes and use shadowing and that weird thumb-and-pencil thing to measure objects that I never quite got around to perfecting. (Or using… ever.) To this day, whenever I pick up the pencil to sketch anything, I still hear her voice in my head telling me to “Drah sroo za shape.” She was very keen on using music to stimulate creativity while drawing, and was a fan of techno beats and discotheque European music. Occasionally, we heard a cool song or two, but what I remember her for most was when she’d forget to change a library from repeating one song to repeating them all, and so we’d hear that self-same wub-wub house music song for about two hours of our four hour long class before she’d realize it was repeating and change it. By the end of two hours of Eastern European techno, you’re about ready to shoot yourself in the head to make it stop. Needless to say, some days were more productive than others.
It’s kind of a given that things that are catchy and upbeat have a tendency to capture the attention, and I definitely can’t write a sad scene to happy music, or vice versa. I find my own moods often mirror my character’s scenario as I think, and there’s no way that I can write a sad scene listening to a tune that makes me smile.
Ever try to kill someone to pop music? Can’t be done.
There are of course, always exceptions.
If only that grimace was early-onset cardiac arrest.
Music is a strange creation in that it has the ability to regulate our moods and flood our brains as we speak or try to communicate. It’s pretty unique in that it can be both inspiring and ungodly awful with only the difference of maybe a few notes between your favorites and least favorites. Used properly, it does in fact stimulate the brain to work more creatively, or throw you into mind-numbing bouts of self-depression… (Especially if that music is country).
Look, she didn’t get rich on a long lasting, healthy and fulfilling relationship, is all I’m saying, okay?