by Robert Gregory Browne
That is… completely frightening… please, seriously, don’t sing… GAAAHHHH
Singing? Is that what you call it? 🙂
Heh. I listen to music a lot while writing, mostly to drown out the sounds of two teenagers in the house. I also find that listening to music stimulates the creative center of my brain.
Sometimes I crank the music on the computer (we subscribe to a service called Rhapsody, which allows you not only to buy music online like iTunes, but to “stream” it over the computer speakers for the price of the subscription. There are hundreds of thousands of songs available, and it’s a great way to check out stuff you haven’t heard before). I also have an Mp3 player that I listen to when I’m writing in the back bedroom or on the deck.
What I listen to varies widely. Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams fueled a lot of the first three books, but so did AC/DC, Metallica, Motorhead, and Warlock.
Lately I’m finding that instrumental music works very well at stimulating without distracting, so I’ve hauled out a lot of Tangerine Dream and Vangelis.
Bastard. Now I’m going go have “Mandy” in my head all day long.
I can’t write with music playing. Too distracting for me. Especially if there’s vocals.
But I do often take YouTube music breaks during the day. Say, like this guy:
I don’t normally listen to music, either, but I sometimes use Cesaria Evora to get into a happy, creative mood.
World music in a language I don’t know is best. I don’t want to be unduly influenced by words and lyrics when I’m struggling to put my own on the page.
Great video, BTW!
Just loved your rendition of “Mandy,” Rob.
Like Mark, I don’t listen to music while I write, because most of what I listen to has a great beat and I’d just want to dance rather than sit at the computer.
But I do reward myself frequently with dance breaks. Yesterday, I played this video of the Squirrel Nut Zippers several times:
though I usually opt for African or Latino music.
Okay, I think I’ve recovered enough now to respond.
As readers of the notorious Ink Slinger Bog will confirm (all three of them), back in early 2006 I talked about the iPod/iTunes being the single greatest invention for the writer since the quill.
I can’t do what you and SJ Rozan and others do – write in silence.
For me I HAVE to have music. In fact, I can’t write without it. I remember getting dangerously close to deadlines on Judging Amy and I hadn’t even started the script because I didn’t have the right music.
The music doesn’t distract me, but rather pushes me deeper into the feeling/mood/tone/vibe/etc. of what I’m writing. I have specific playlists for each thing I write – script, short story, whatever. And like I said, I can’t even start until I have the music.
But in addition to all the mood stuff, I think another reason I like having music is the same reason I like writing in public. It’s to feel like I’m still part of the world. Still connected.
Writing is such a lonely, solitary endeavor – we spend hours and hours with no human contact – that it is a comfort of sorts to have the music there, or to be in a diner or coffeehouse with other humans milling about, just out of my focus.
Okay, now I’m going to go play that Mandy scene again. And again.
Oh Rob. You made me smile. Nice guitar, by the way!
I’m an absolutely yes on the music, but it’s got to be classical. Each book usually has a theme song — Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, Rachmaninoff’s 3rd, Tchaicovsky’s Violin Concerto, Dvorzak #9 — you get the idea. I can’t do lyrics though, I get distracted and start singing away.
Which is much, much worse than anything you could ever try. Trust me.
Mandy. Oh, my.
No music for me while I’m doing the first draft. Then lots of music during rewrites. Especially songs about strong women bent on revenge.
Naomi, thanks for the introduction to Cesaria Evora.
And Guyot? Yeah, the music makes me feel like I’m not such a mushroom after all.
Do they make bleach for the ears?
(And here I thought you were shy.)
Like Louise, I can’t really listen to anything while writing the first draft, but always have something playing during the rewrite. I tend toward a very eclectic mix, everything from blues to rock to some country to celtic. The lyrics tend to fade into the background, though like Pari, I tend to take dancing breaks.
I see Karaoke in our future.
Music – depends on the project. THE PRICE – not at all. Too painful, although one of the characters is based on that Sweeney Todd song, “Joanna”.
This new one? Goth and dark 80’s. Psychedelic Furs, The Cure, The Stones. I usually make a soundtrack CD to play when I need it.
Holy crap! A little warning next time. I mean, first you call me out, and then that Mandy scene? I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. I’m sure Barry Manilow is shaking in his high polished boots right now.
Dude, seriously, don’t sing. Ever.
“Writing is such a lonely, solitary endeavor – we spend hours and hours with no human contact – that it is a comfort of sorts…”
What is this, Guyot on masturbation?
“My needs are few and I serve them myself.”–Emerson (or maybe Thoreau)
Battles and I are doing a duet soon. We’re still working on our harmonies.
Like Dusty (Devil’s Right Hand) I’ve gotten a lot of writing milage out of Steve Earle and Lucinda.
Nobody can generate angst with a simple statement of fact like Lucinda. i.e. “Sylvia was working as a waitress in Beaumont,” a perfect one line lament. Her song “The Night’s Too Long” inspired a character that I built my whole first novel around. I was going to do a short based on her “Pineola” but, I really believe there’s a novel in there. I’ll write that sucker eventually, (if Dusty doesn’t beat me to it.)
Took another character for that first book from S. Earle’s “West Nashville Boogie.” (I was writing about a clan of bad-ass shitkickers.)
Buddy and Julie Miller bring inspiration, mood and tone by the bucketfull, either singing together or seperately.
The Waifs, Fred Eaglesmith, Bob Seger, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Kid Rock, Emmylou Harris, Stones, and Dylan were co-pilots on my latest effort. (which I completed, [wa–FUCKING–hoo!] yesterday. Lean and mean at 87,000 words.
Now I need to marshal some new musical troops to help get me through the first re-write.
…oh my goodness…
Mandy, huh? Yeah, okay.
May I also suggest Pandora for musical background opportunities. You can even make your own Manilow station there, if you really want to.
I finished the last 1/3 of my manuscript listening to 80s music between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. while recovering from abdominal surgery (no, not a tummy tuck….although I need one). I figured I couldn’t sleep so I might as well write through the pain. Fortunately, hubby and baby daughter are heavy sleepers!
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