Music and the Muse

In April of 2007, I bought my first iPod. It was the fifth generation, on which I could watch television shows and movies as well as listen to music and play games. I bought it primarily to watch the second season of my favorite show, SUPERNATURAL, and the first season of HEROES so I didn’t have to wait for the DVD set to come out the following fall.

Between my husband and I, we had a lot of records and CDs. Because you are allowed to make an archive version of purchased music, I downloaded my favorite albums onto my iPod. But I didn’t actually expect to listen to the music while writing. I first plugged my iPod into my car to listen to the audio version of ON WRITING by Stephen King–read by Stephen King. If you like this book, and enjoy Stephen King, you’ll LOVE him reading it. It was as if he was sitting in my passenger seat talking to me like an old friend. And I’m not usually a fan of audio books because I can read faster than I can listen.

I was writing at Starbucks at the time, and eventually started bringing in my iPod without much thought. I realized over that summer that I found I wrote faster when I listened to music. In fact, harder and louder the rock, faster I wrote. So I went home and spent a fortune on iTunes buying favorite songs that I didn’t have on CD. My library is now over 1300 songs, though there’s roughly 250 that I listen to far more than the rest. (For example, I love Pink Floyd. But Pink Floyd is album music, and you have to listen to the entire album. For some reason, I find this distracting when I’m writing.)

I’ve realized that it’s partly to trick my mind–if my ears are focused on music, I’m not eavesdropping on conversations around me. Or distracted by birds chirping outside my home office. (I found out real quick that there’s a big difference listening to music through earbuds and listening through home stereo speakers. Only the earbuds work to focus my writing.)

When I have my earbuds in–and I invested in real nice, clear Bose earbuds–I hear and see nothing but the story in front of me. Amazing when you think of it — I thought music would be distracting. But I’m not actively listening–the music is simply in my head, giving part of my mind something to do so it doesn’t distract me from the story. Sounds strange, I know. I think because I’m so used to multi-tasking–not just as a mom, but in my previous career in the Legislature when I was used to juggling many projects and thinking about one thing while doing something completely different–I find it hard to focus on just one thing. The music helps me do that.

When talking to writers, I’ve found there are just as many who need complete silence or white noise–our Rob is one–in order to write as there are those who need music. And those who need music, there are about as many who can only listen to instrumental and those who need songs with lyrics. I’m someone who needs songs with lyrics. I think this is because instrumental music is distracting because I’m making up a visual story to go with the sound; with lyrics, that story is already there. And because I know the songs so well, the lyrics almost disappear. 

My 5th Generation iPod crashed and instead of getting it fixed, I bought the iPod Touch. I love it. (Well, I love everything about it–the sound, the calendar, the games–except for the sucky battery life.)

To celebrate my new toy, I created a playlist of music from my favorite television show, SUPERNATURAL, largely because the program plays music that I like. I bought some new stuff–songs written in the 2000s. For me, this is huge because I’ve always believed that no good music was made after about 1983. (I credit my oldest daughter with my ability to expand my musical horizons. She introduced me to some terrific, new rock music. So I can now listen to Led Zeppelin in the same playlist as 3 Doors Down; and Katie is one of the few teenagers who appreciates classic rock. She created her own playlists on my iPod and my husband’s iPod so when we drive together, we listen to music we both like.) Some of the songs are not available on iTunes, so I’m debating buying the CD. Some of the songs not available I already had–like AC/DC.

Right now I have 46 songs on this playlist, and I’m adding to it every week. “Oldies” like BAD MOON RISING by CCR; CARRY ON WAYWARD SON by Kansas; RENEGADE by Styx; STRANGLEHOLD by Ted Nugent; and TURN TO STONE by Joe Walsh. And “Newsies” like EVERY ROSE HAS ITS THORN by Poison; SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLE by Muse; SPEAKING IN TONGUES by Eagles of Death Metal; and MEAN LITTLE TOWN by Howling Diablos.

I think one of the reasons I’m so tickled about finding new music that I like is because for the longest time I believed that only rap was produced for the last ten years. Lots of people–particularly young people–love rap. Great. But I don’t. If it comes on the radio station my teens like, I hit the classic rock station without hesitation. Because while there is some popular music I can tolerate, rap ain’t it.

My oldest daughter is a music addict. So much so that she did her science project on whether music had an impact on the behavior of goldfish (I still have two of the four alive in a bowl in my office . . . ) She learned they don’t like hard rap music anymore than I do–they swam erratically at the bottom of the bowl. And they love the Righteous Brothers and swam smoothly, using the full bowl. At least, that’s our story πŸ™‚

For fun, I went to my “Top 25 Most Played” songs and was surprised at the rather eclectic top ten:

 

  • Sweet Home Alabama Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • I’m Shipping Up to Boston Dropkick Murphys
  • We Used to Be Friends  The Dandy Warhols        
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday  U2        
  • I Hear the Bells Mike Doughty
  • Carry On Wayward Son Kansas
  • Bohemian Rhapsody Queen
  • Rocky Road to Dublin Dropkick Murphys
  • Spybreak (Short One) Propellerheads
  • Tom Sawyer Rush

 

Some of the Top 25 surprised me (like #21 “Every Day I Write the Book” by Elvis Costello.) There’s one thing that the top 25 songs have in common–they made it onto multiple playlists. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they changed over the next few months . . . 

Does music help you work, whether you’re a writer or not? What are your top five most played songs on your iPod (if you have one) or what CD is in your player? 

(As an aside . . . recently my husband bought a thingie to plug a turntable into the computer to burn CDs because, alas, we don’t have a record player anymore. Can you even buy records anymore new? I don’t think so. When my 15 year old came into the room while he was lovingly fondling the ancient vinyl, she asked, “What’s that?” And VCR tapes are fast becoming obsolete as well. Does anyone remember 8-tracks tapes? My mom had a car with an 8-track tape player. Yep, I feel old. And I had a black-and-white television until I was five.)

30 thoughts on “Music and the Muse

  1. Katherine Howell

    Hi Allison,
    great post! I too use earbuds (Koss) with my iPod, and find that listening while I write keeps the monkeys in my head sufficiently distracted πŸ™‚ I go for the ambient – Biosphere is a favourite.

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  2. Joe Moore

    Hi Allison,
    I write to music, too, but I’m an instrumental music person. For me, the lyrics get in my way and cause me to hear the words of the song rather than my own. Over the years, I’ve amassed a huge collection of movie scores (not soundtracks). Since my thrillers are dramatic, I play dramatic music through speakers in my office as I write. There are hundreds of great movie scores to choose from, but here are my top six recommendations: BEAUTIFUL MIND, BREACH, BURN AFTER READING, DIABOLIQUE, ENIGMA, and THE LIVES OF OTHERS. Enjoy!

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  3. Jessica Scott

    Thanks for sharing. I too was blown away by my ipod and am now, even in Iraq, never without it. I have the touch and it is about as multifunctional as one can get. The music is key for me to get into the zone about writing. On my website, I added links to what songs I listened to when I wrote each of my books and why that music was important or had influence.
    All time fav music to write to is Evan’s Blue, Hurt, Red, Framing Hanley. Lots of modern alt rock for me. For some reason, I can’t listen to pop or even 80s metal (yes, I’m showing my age) while I write. It’s distracting. The other big playlist i have is my soundtrack playlist with the Pirates of the Caribbean Sdtk, Blackhawk Down and Gladiator. I’m pretty much a Hans Zimmer fan when it comes to soundtracks.
    By the way, I love the Rocky Road to Dublin! I had it on an Irish Mix CD years ago and haven’t heard it in forever!

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  4. Chris Hamilton

    I, too, have a hard time grabbing hold of the newer music. Part of the reason is I just don’t hear it. It used to be the radio was on and you were forced to listen to whatever they played. I rarely listen to the radio for music any more. (There’s a lesson for the publishing industry in there somewhere.)

    But I love Dropkick Murphys. and I also write better to music. But I don’t have a playlist. I just put it on shuffle and if I’m not in the mood, I forward to the next song.

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  5. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Jessica, thanks for that reminder about soundtracks – that’s a good option when lyrics become distracting.

    Some projects I work best with a soundtrack of my own music, others I need silence. I’ve found that not that I’m singing and performing more regularly again (with the Slush Pile Players), I haven’t been able to listen to music as I write because I’ll start singing or focusing on how the harmony works instead of on the writing.

    Which is kind of sad, really – because I’d rather write with music.

    I LOVE the Drop Kick Murphys and I love "Every Day I Write The Book." You’ve got as Irish a playlist as my own, AB!

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  6. toni mcgee causey

    I have found that I write better to music–it does turn off a lot of the multi-tasking part of my brain and I will get to the point where I don’t even hear the music, I’m so in the flow. It helps me get to that point faster than the ambient noise of the room. I’ve got playlists for various moods, so that when I’m writing something really dark, I’m not listening to upbeat music–I find the rhythm of the phrasing of the sentences is off when I do that. Or I’ll *think* something’s working and then when I read it later, without the music, I’ll see that the rhythm / syntax strikes the wrong tone for that section.

    If I’m struggling for the imagery of a section or I don’t know quite what’s going to happen, so I’m feeling my way through, I have to either put on instrumental or go without music, because my mind will latch onto the music in those moments and quit giving me the imagery I need.

    [I think Sweet Home Alabama should be in everyone’s top 25.]

    My music mix is pretty eclectic–I like a lot of country (well, the new stuff that’s practically the same as the rock I grew up with). Alternative music’s great–I’m finding a lot of stuff. Soundtracks are great. Some old swing music, some Rat Pack, some grunge, some hiphop. Virtually zero rap, which is about the only one I don’t like.

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  7. Sylvia

    My colleagues at work laugh when they call and hear German opera in the background, especially Wagner… "bad day I take it?" I could take out a few keyboards with the the help of some angry German opera to urge along the crushing of keys.

    When kids (pre-teens) hi-jack the iPod, let me just say you are royally screwed. Between Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers with a touch of Demi Lavato (I’m so f’ing embarrassed to even write that I know such names) you’re cruising along in a scene with Vivaldi when struck with a pre-pubescent singing La La Land

    I do love audiobooks! It’s the only way I can consume a book while getting things done – painting, cleaning, yardwork.

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  8. J.D. Rhoades

    Put me down as another Dropkick Murphys fan. But I don’t miss 8-tracks AT ALL. They jammed, they dragged when they got a little age on them. and sometimes your favorite song would have a break in the middle while the cartridge changed tracks. Who the hell thought this was a viable format for music?

    I like to write to music as well.I n addition, I’ve often found that listening to music before I write often tickles the creative part of my brain awake. Either classical or complex art rock (Yes, Rush, that sort of thing) seems to work best for the "warm up" music. But once I’m writing, I tend to lean more towards blues, rock and roll, and metal. Listening to Buddy Guy right now.

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  9. Double T

    I find listening to music does help me focus when I’m working on a project. My Mp3 has an elcetic mix on it. I inherited it from my oldest son when he got a newer one for himself. So mine has some of his music and some of mine. Nothing like a mix of Bob Seager and Styx with a little Weird Al and Smashmouth. Both of my boys do appreciate some of my music mainly because of Guitar Hero.
    Allison, I know what you mean by the having to explain what records or 8 tracks are. I have a ’77 Cadillac sedan with the original stereo in it. Yup 8 track. I don’t know what was worse, having to explain what 8 tracks were or the fact I still have a few. I know scary. The stereo still works and the boys enjoy listening to the "oldies" once in a while.
    to all the Mothers out there Happy Mothers Day!

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  10. TerriMolina

    OMG I so LOVE Supernatural!! Just Love Dean!

    You know it’s so very weird how my life mirrors yours (although without the whole NYT best seller thing) ;-P I listen to music occassionally when I write but unless it’s specific songs it distracts me. I don’t own an IPOD which my husband found strange because I love listening and singing to songs or CDs. With four kids my music tastes are pretty eclectic and I too followed their lead and listen to artists like Stain’d, Papa Roach, 30 Seconds to Mars, Linkin Park and funny enough they also love the classic rock of the 70s (because of my husband). Oh and if you haven’t listened to Evanescence or Paramour, check them out. But, I think one of the main reasons I haven’t gotten an IPOD is because I feel like I’d miss out on the new songs and artists if I don’t listen to the radio.

    (okay I think I’m babbling). Not enough coffee I think.

    Great post and I love that experiment your daughter did! Very creative!

    Happy Mothers Day!!

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  11. JT Ellison

    I’m always fascinated that people can write while listening to lyrics. I can’t do it – totally messes me up. I end up signing and dancing rather than writing.

    I do listen to classical while I write. Non-instrumentals are just fine. But silence is a beautiful thing, too. And I can’t have the TV on – even without sound, it’s distracting. Peripheral vision.

    My top 5 on my top 25 most played: (and I have no idea how this happened because I think it should be Fall Out Boy and The Editors)

    I Don’t Know Why I Love You – House of Love
    Stop – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
    Hate to Say I told You So – The Hives
    I Wanna Make It Wit Chu – Queens of the Stone Age
    I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor – Arctic Monkeys

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  12. Allison Brennan

    Since I slept in until nearly nine!!!! (staying up until 3:30 working and having the kids let you sleep in because it’s mother’s day is real nice) . . .

    Thanks Katherine! Monkeys in the head. That’s exactly what it seems like. They need to be tamed or I’m thinking of too many things.

    Joe, I should try some movie scores. My only problem is that I think I’d picture the movie if it’s something I’ve seen. I do have the score from the television show FRIDAY THE 13th THE SERIES but it’s not a writing score.

    Jessica, great idea about putting your playlists on your website. I’ve considered that but I never think of sending it to my webguy . . . maybe I’ll post it to my blog or as a page on my blog. Or just on MySpace. I’m behind updating everything because of these tight deadlines.

    Chris, it took me a long time to find new music that I liked, but I credit some of the television shows and my daughter. I’m really enjoying some of the newer artists. My big problem with new music (other than rap, which I have multiple problems with) is that they are more entertainers than musicians. I took my teenage daughters to a concert with multiple pop artists, and I swear I wanted to strangle Jesse McCarthy. (I think that’s his name.) It’s all about the moves, not the music, and I just don’t get that. But I was actually surprised at not only how well Kate Perry could sing (she has an incredibly strong voice) but that she can actually play multiple musical instruments. That used to be a requirement of the traditional rock bands, now it’s rare.

    Alex, I talked to a writer once who also plays many instruments and writes music and she can’t write to music, either, because her mind is geared to focus on the music and critique it or appreciate it because that’s part of who she is, so she can’t focus on the writing. I took piano lessons for eight years and can read music and technically play the piano, but I’m not a musician. I could have studied for twenty years and never been anything more than competent. In fact, I have no creative skills whatsoever except writing.

    BTW, on Irish music . . . . I have a LOT of Irish music and except for a few bands like Gaelic Storm and the Dropkick Murphys, I can’t listen to it while I write. I DO focus on the words and want to sing along (which is bad, bad, bad because I CAN NOT sing.) I had a Clancy Brothers CD in the car for a long time and you know you listen to Irish music a lot when your little kids know all the word to Beer, Beer, Beer (A long time ago, way back in history, when all there was to drink was nothin but cups of tea. Along came a man by the name of Charlie Mops, and he invented a wonderful drink and he made it out of hops. . . . )

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  13. Pari

    Allison,
    Wonderful post. I write with relative silence. Though tomorrow I have to start writing in 20-min increments because of our new puppy (and I may want music by the time I’m done with the house-training aspect).

    A musician that I think you would really like is Kirsty MacColl. I’ve included a link at Youtube of one of my favorite songs. It’s just the song, no real video, but it’ll give you an idea . . .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjvaqVAFuLI&feature=related

    Enjoy AND HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to you, Allison.

    Reply
  14. Allison Brennan

    Toni, the only music I DON’T listen to is country, unless it’s solidly on the rock side like Lynyrd Skynyrd. Since half my family is from Alabama, of course that song is high on my list πŸ™‚ And you’re right about the mood. I do have a "slower" more angsty playlist for highly emotional scenes, but I don’t write a lot of emotion. And my slow and easy is also very "rocky" . . . and includes a lot of Led Zeppelin and The Who. I love The Who πŸ™‚

    Sylvia, my kids are not allowed to touch my iPod. My oldest daughters are allowed to create playlists for when we go on drives, but only with my music πŸ™‚ . . . one of them has a "mom" playlist on her iPod which excludes all the songs I don’t like.

    Dusty, I always warm up to music too. I pop in the earbuds and check email, maybe do some research, and about twenty minutes later start in on the WIP. I also lose track of time, and sometimes don’t even hear my playlist end, which is amazing considering I listen to my music LOUD. If it’s soft, I strain to hear, which is distracting.

    Hey Double T! My mom’s car was a ’77 LTD. We had it until 81 or 82 when she got an Audi. (She was in real estate and had some nice cars . . . now she is retired and drives an Element.)

    Terri, Terri, Terri . . . I’m a Sam girl. But he’s been disappointing me this season drinking demon’s blood . . . and I absolutely adore Dean. My heart just broke for him in the episode the other week when they found out they had a half-brother. BTW, I started this blog originally planning on writing about the hero’s journey in Supernatural, and how Sam and Dean are switching roles, but decided it would only be talking to those who watch the show . . . someday I’ll write about it. I love that show. Sigh.

    You’re not alone, Louise. Many writers are.

    JT, I’m completely with you about the television. In fact, I didn’t watch TV for three years when I first started writing . . . . but I was also working full-time and my evenings I focused on writing. You’d never know that when I was a teenager and in college I was a soap opera junkie . . . BTW, I’ll have to check out your playlist, because you know what? I’ve never heard of any of those bands.

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  15. Allison Brennan

    Thanks Pari! New puppy? Are you going to write about him (her?) next week? We’re holding off getting a puppy until we have landscaping . . . all we have is dirt in the yard, and I don’t want the dirt in our house. And we’re not in agreement about what to get, so we may end up with two. I want a sheltie (I grew up with a sheltie) and my husband wants a lab (he grew up with a lab.) We may have both . . .

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  16. Jill James

    I love music when I write. Actually the sound sometimes disappears when I’m in the zone. I love Backstreet Boys, Journey, Air Supply, and REO Speedwagon. For newer, I like Coldplay and some of the newer country stuff.

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  17. TerriMolina

    Allison I would love to read that article! So even if you have to write it for just me…write it….haha
    Yeah, Sam is a cutie but Dean…gotta love a bad boy! lol And that episode when he caught the ghost disease…Classic!!
    Anyway, as opposed to music I actually find my muse comes out more when I’m watching shows like Supernatural, Charmed, Buffy and now Fringe. Guess it’s because I’m into the whole "supernatural" aspects (sans vampires).

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  18. Steve Steinbock

    Allison, great post. Ever since Dean Winchester did his "Eye of the Tiger" thing on Supernatural, but twelve-year-old son has been dancing around the house to that song.

    I like to "think" music when I’m writing. But I can’t write when there’s vocal music in the background. Give me crowds, hissing espresso machines, traffic noise, or even some jazz or classical music. But as soon as I hear someone singing, the verbal part of my brain gets lost and I can’t write.

    I just checked my "Most Played" itunes list and was surprised: it was all songs from Beatles’ "Abbey Road" and a few songs by Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso. What’s odd about that is that "Abbey Road" is one of those albums that can’t be listened to in "Shuffle" mode. At least not by me.

    Incidentally, I was in the local supermarket yesterday and was pleased to see an "Allison Brennan" end-cap rack filled with your books! You are obviously a hit in Maine.

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  19. Catherine Shipton

    I have mixed success with music. Sometimes I need quiet, absolute quiet to get to the next step in whatever I’m working on.

    I’ve produced exactly one painting since highschool, yet I played Gershwin nonstop for hours till I finished it. I’ve recently had a strange little mix of daft punk, the knife, the panics, and the ramones playing while I painted my office. I walk in the rainforest with ludacris, the wombats, rick james, josh pyke and assorted others. I’m pretty sure my youngest just put some John Coltrane and Fleetwood Mac on her ipod from my computer yesterday. There is very little cohesive thread through what I like.

    I’m wondering Allison if your thing that burns records into CD’s is like an alternate verson of the record turntable with ipod dock that I bought for my daughter last year? It’s pretty snazzy. I bought it for her because she likes looking through old albums in second hand shops…and small amount of the new bands are recording onto vinyl for the different sound resonance.

    Personally I’m just happy that I have the access to as wide a set of music as I like.

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  20. toni mcgee causey

    I grew up listening to country. (My dad had control of the radio and the record player for years. I did not know there was other stuff besides Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. For years, probably ’til junior high.) Then I hated country and loved the rock. It cracks me up to see half of the bands and/or songs that we all considered "rock" show up on the country charts now. I spent some college years tearing up the dance floor to country (only decent place to dance around here. I don’t think they let you live in Louisiana if you don’t listen to country, or the blues.)

    [I have seen JT’s list of music and wow. I want her list. I came home from Tennessee with a whole pot full of new people to try last year.]

    Reply
  21. Catherine Shipton

    After reading Toni’s comment, maybe there is a straight line (sort of ) reason for my listening habits. Each family member seemed to have different tastes. I’m sure a soundtrack of Johnny Cash plays to accompany my uncle’s life. Lot’s of Wagner from my Aunt that left country Australia for developing software in London in the 1970’s. For Mum and Dad it was classical and showtunes. For another uncle it was jazz. I’ve talked around all the music I listen to.

    My Top 5 playing now

    Glass Danse -The Faint
    Lets dance to Joy Division – The Wombats
    The Lighthouse Song-Josh Pyke
    We share our mother’s health – The Knife
    Echoes – The Rapture

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  22. Allison Brennan

    Jill, I used to love Journey. Haven’t listened to them in awhile . . . the barista at my fave starbucks says I should listen to coldplay . . .

    Terri, ditto your viewing list, except for CHARMED. I never got into that show. My daughters and I are in the middle of season three of BUFFY (I bought an eight-season boxed set last year.) We’ll get back on track after SUPERNATURAL finale . . . I’ll write that article sometime. I’ll probably add it to one of my workshops on the hero’s journey and character, because that is the most character-driven television show I’ve seen in a long time. Almost any other tv show an external plot or conflict drives the show, but SUPERNATURAL has the strongest internal conflict of any show on today, and they show it so well it’s amazing.

    Steve, that episode was hilarious, even though it was sad and scary–my teenage daughters love Dean (surprise, surprise) and I’m a Sam girl, but I think that’s my maternal instincts. Now they are drifting toward Dean because he’s truly the most tortured character this season. I could write a whole book on SUPERNATURAL.

    Hey, and I’m so glad people in Maine like my books! I love Maine even though I’ve never been there. Two of my all-time favorite writers live there πŸ™‚

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  23. Allison Brennan

    Oh, and Steve, I think that there are visual people and auditory people and tactile people. And you can be all three or lean one way or the other. I’m very visual. I see my stories unfold, which is why I sometimes struggle with dialogue because I don’t "hear" them talking. But action scenes I’m much better at because I see them step by step. Maybe that’s why I need the words, because I don’t really "hear" them . . . if it’s just music, I make up stories to go with the tune, which sort of defeats the purpose of getting lost in my writing!

    Catherine, I don’t know about the record thingie–that’s a husband toy. πŸ™‚ . . . but I didn’t know that there were still vinyl recording! There is definitely a difference, I didn’t realize it until Dan was playing records on the turntable when he first got his toy.

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  24. LizC

    Music absolutely helps me write better. Not creative writing but when I was in college and grad school and writing papers and theses I had to listen to music and it had to be through headphones. It also had to have lyrics for the same reason that it helped me focus in that I didn’t have to focus on the music. I could zone out to the lyrics and focus on what I was writing.

    What I listened to depended on my mood and what I was into at the time. I listened to a lot of Aida the musical soundtrack when writing. Or any soundtrack, really. When studying for finals I listened to a lot of Trisha Yearwood or Beauty and the Beast. In college I just had my good old fashioned portable CD player so my play list was limited to what cds I had or burned.

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  25. Doug Riddle

    Allison,

    love that you know who the Howling Diablos are….a great local Michigan band. What I listen to depends on what I am writing. If you want to check out a great mix of old and new music go on iTunes Radio > Folk> Mvyradio…….Martha’s Vineard Radio……a really great varity of music….just make sure you ignore the weather reports…..lol.

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  26. Gretchen Jones

    Sometimes at work I’ll plug in the bose noise canceling headphones and turn up the volume on something righteous like Tony McManus (An Irish Scot who does blazingly fast fingerstyle guitar flavored from Scotland that isn’t traditional Celtic music which I find repetitive) or Tommy Emmanuel (An Aussie amazing guitar virtuoso – blues and jazz), but I usually do that when I’m angry about something.

    When writing fiction I’m still at the stage where it’s hard to concentrate and get the story to come out. I don’t zone quite as well with fiction as I do with fact. Maybe I don’t know my stories as well as the cr** I write at work. If I can get in the zone nothing distracts me. Phone calls, smoky burnouts, lights or sirens, tornadoes don’t even register.

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  27. Allison Brennan

    Hi Liz, I barely remember my two years of college . . . LOL. I do remember, however, that after I had kids I rarely listened to anything but kids songs. Getting the iPod helped me rediscover my love of music. We still listen to Disney and Irish folk music in the car.

    Hey Doug! To give credit, I discovered them through the TV show SUPERNATURAL. There’s this great website somewhere that lists all the songs in every episode, and I’ve been going through them picking the ones I like. Sam and Dean, the two main characters, use the names of rock stars as aliases. And some of my teens movies have great music, so I try to seek out what I like. I prefer a bit harder stuff than my kids, which is hilarious when you think about it. It used to be the kids were the rockers and the parents couldn’t stand the music . . . I was about 10 years after my musical time, and very jealous of my husband who saw Pink Floyd THE WALL in concert, among others.

    Hi Gretchen! I’m definitely going to check out Tony McManus, sounds exactly like something I would like! I’m the opposite with writing . . . in non-fiction, I generally avoid music. I also don’t listen when I’m researching.

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  28. KarinNH

    I’m catching up on reading, since I was picking my son up at college this weekend and didn’t go online for days!

    Allison, you can get new vinyl records! Many of the alternative bands release vinyl when they release CDs–my sons tell me there is a segment of the market that likes the sound quality of vinyl better and with the introduction of MP3s, CDs don’t have much of an advantage–buying a record gets you a free MP3 download, with all the sound quality of vinyl with the convenience of MP3. Plus, you get real cover art!

    College towns almost always have a record shop or two that specializes in vinyl. My son bought Radiohead, Block Party, Spoon, and Bon Iver all on vinyl this week.

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