I write with music and I don’t. That helps solve the question. I write with music when the music is necessary for what I’m writing. That is, I don’t put it on in the background. I often write in silence.
I’m one of those freaks who after a while doesn’t need anything in the background. Sure, I start off with an episode of Frasier or 30 Rock that I can easily tune out, but after 20 minutes it’s gone. And I write without anything going on. Just writing.
Personally, I think this is something important to do. It took me a while to learn how to do it, but I discovered that my writing output sky rocketed. Rather than pecking away at a few hundred words here and there I got to the point that I was cranking out thousands of words in a sitting. I think this is because I don’t have anything influencing my thoughts. Even though the music or television is on in the background, that tone, temperament will find its way into what I’m writing. If I’m listening to downtempo music, I’ll write in a downtempo way, if I’m listening to metal, I write aggressively and in shorter sentences.
I can tell the difference already. I wrote this back to back with my previous blog post because I noticed just how dramatic the change is between writing with music on in the background and writing in total silence. Currently, I’m listening to XX and it’s downtempo electronica about loss, love, and possession. It’s causing my sentences to naturally flow on and on in longer constructions. I swear that the difference is that remarkable. I also don’t rush. I have longer pauses between sentences and I don’t just plow ahead banging out more words than I really need.
Which is also why I listen to music when writing. When I listen, it’s not in the background, it’s actively driving my mood and influencing my writing. I might be alone in how profoundly it affects me. Being bipolar it’s hard to tell what a normal human reaction is. I know it affects people, but I have to be careful what I listen to because it can ruin days by dramatically changing my mood. Listening to (III) by Crystal Castles will make me aggressive and manic-like. Purity Ring will send me all over the map. XX will pacify me.
An instance of how I use it is what I’m currently working on. I’m writing a particularly painful scene in my book where my main character loses her chance at being with a kind and nurturing man so then she goes off and self destructs. It’s hard to get into that headspace. I’ve never been in her position, I don’t think a lot of people have, to have someone slip through your fingers by a matter of hours and be subjected to failure after a divorce surrounding infidelity. XX helps me get into that headspace. Writing the massive orgy scene is choreographed to the B-side of Amnesiac. I’ll probably also throw on some Fever Ray when I need to get to the aggressive meltdown of failure that is coming up. Concrete Walls should do the trick.
What do you do with music? Is it background? Is it choreographing?