Music. It’s an expression of how we feel, it’s a way to tell someone something (if they’re listening) when we don’t really know the words, and sometimes it can change how we feel – for better or for worse. I think almost everyone has those playlists that when they’re sad they listen to them, or if they’re in a mood to bounce around an be happy there’s a playlist for that too. And Goddess knows that iTunes and Windows Media player have only made it easier. I still remember the days when you had cassette tapes. And if you wanted mixed artists, you had to create your own mix tapes (and if you’re wondering, yes I still have some cassettes. Specifically my Muppet’s tape. Mahna Mahna is too good a song to ever let go and there’s something special about listening to it on tape.)
Needless to say, being able to store all your music on a harddrive and mix in match in as many playlists has become an amazing asset. I even have a sleep playlist because I can’t sleep in complete silence but I can’t just sleep to anything either. And with Pandora, and similar websites, you don’t even need the music on your harddrive anymore. It’s just that easy to have music at your fingertips, for whatever you need. Which brings me to the point of this post. Writing playlists. I’ve seen a lot of authors talk about how this song or that song inspired them while they wrote, or that they have a playlist or a specific kind of music that they listen to while they write. Or sometimes it’s not just to write but to inspire specific characters.
Kim Harrison has lists of music that she feels, or fans have suggested, bring to mind specific characters. Carrie Vaughn actually lists the playlist that she listened to while she wrote each specific book in her Kitty Norville novels. And these are just a couple of the authors I read and love who do this and make it well known. I’m sure there are a lot more out there who do.
But it makes me wonder a little.
Am I one of the few that can’t do music when I write?
While it seems to help a lot of authors get in the mood or find that missing piece to be able to get the words to flow more like a moving river than a babbling creek, it does none of that for me. It’s actually the exact opposite for me when it comes to most music. Instead of being a beautiful help to my work, it actually takes away, distracts me, and makes sure that almost nothing will get done on my writing. If it’s lyrical, I end up singing to it and forgetting to type or losing my thought because my brain is concentrating more on getting the right words out. If it’s non-lyrical, my brain tends to pick apart the music on a level that only a musician can. It’s not to say I don’t enjoy the music, far from it. I have a large collection from J-Pop/anime to country to metal to classical to jazz. My newest obsession that I found because I adore Apocalyptica has been 2Cellos, specifically this song they play – and the electric cellos are so cool too. I absolutely love music. Just… not when I’m writing.
And yet oddly enough, through old episodes of Reba on the tv and I can write up a storm. Go figure.
Part of me is curious if anyone else out there is like me, not necessarily in the why but specifically in the fact that they can’t do music while they write either. Feel free to share your thoughts, comments, or experiences.