setting the mood

i’m in the midst of discovering my writing process. here’s what i know so far:

i balance on the line between plotter and pantser. (writing out the full plot before i start writing vs. writing with no tools, no outline, willy nilly, by the seat of my pants). i need to have a list of a few major events that occur throughout the book. these act as guidelines making sure i stay on track, but getting the characters from one point to the next is where i can expand, expound, expunge, uh, let the creative juices flow.

the next trail along my path of discovery is music. i cannot write with music on. the lyrics (WORDS written by ANOTHER) infiltrate my mind like little zombies who eat my brain and turn me to mush. me slumped and drooling over the computer isn’t a pretty sight not to mention the drool could short circuit the laptop causing an electrical fire that could burn into a large, more damaging fire. so in the interest of fire safety, i write in silence.

(note to self, don’t ever google image the word silence again. it’s nightmare inducing.)

BUT, music does something that nothing else can. it sets the mood. it gets my mind churning. when trying to get into the brain of a teenage protagonist, music helps to tap into those emotions (oh, ALL those teenage emotions), so i find it beneficial to pump the jams before writing. however, my current WIP’s playlist is only 3 songs. how do you find songs that relate to your story and your characters when it’s music you wouldn’t normally listen to?

*puts headphones in*

research time.

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10 Responses to “setting the mood”

  1. Linda G. Says:

    Yay! Another writes-in-silence person. Finally.

    Music overwhelms me when I’m writing, especially music with lyrics. I can’t NOT give it my full attention. (Apparently I suck at multitasking.) But, like with you, listening to the right music before I start to write can prime the pump, so the the creative juices will flow more freely.

    As for finding the right music for your story…well, keep on listening. It’ll hit you. :)

    • abby mumford Says:

      yes, when it comes to creativity of the writing sort, i cannot multitask either. the silence not only allows my own thoughts in loud and clear, but it keeps me on track because i don’t have a bee bopping song to jam along to instead of writing scene X.

      and now i shall continue the hunt for more songs…..

  2. adriana Says:

    i assume you’ve already tried putting these three songs into a new Pandora station to see what else it recommends…? it’s a shot in the dark, but who knows.

    and i’m curious, if it’s just the lyrics that normally distract you, how do you feel about instrumental music? i know that limits your options severely… but nowadays, with youtube and everyone and their cousin doing covers of other people’s songs, you never know what you might find… just the other day Pandora played for me an instrumental cover of one of Muse’s songs. it was really great!

    • abby mumford Says:

      actually, in high school, my creative writing teacher would play us Enya while we wrote. it was quite lovely. maybe i should try that again?

      and i also haven’t done the input my playlist into pandora and see what it spits out. another good recommendation. let’s hope pandora behaves!

  3. Karla Nellenbach Says:

    I write in silence as well, but I get all my greatest ideas from music. A&F was inspired by that song “Savior” by Rise Against; SLIVER came to me after listening to “Fine Again” by Seether followed by “Apologize” by OneRepublic…which is weird how that happened. I like both songs, but something about the combination just screamed ‘suicidal sister’ to me. *shrugs*

    maybe the reason I’m having a hard time deciding what to work on now is because I havent really been listening to the radio. hmm…note to self…

    • abby mumford Says:

      i like how you can pinpoint one or two songs that sparked the novel idea. i can actually do that too, as there was one line in “the chain” by ingrid michaelson that took my breath away it was so perfect. and fortunately, i can now get that line stuck in my head at will. that sounds like it’d be annoying, but it’s anything but!

      and it sounds like you and i both need to turn on the radio and get crackin!

  4. Patty Blount Says:

    I waffle back and forth.

    There are some days I like writing to music and other days I find myself transcribing the lyrics so I have to cut it off or I’ll waste my precious writing time.

    I have been a dedicated plotter but when I did NaNo a few months ago, I flew by the seat of my pants. I am NOT happy with the result so am now rewriting Past Perfect with something like a rough outline, something that more closely resembles your list of events.

    My sense of direction is abominable; I can get lost in a phone booth. Even with maps in hand, I still make wrong turns and waste time. The outline is like a GPS; it helps guide me to where I want my story to end up. I don’t use outlines like prescriptions; they are not THOU SHALTs. Rather, they’re plans that can be adapted along the way.

    • abby mumford Says:

      waffles. i love that word as a verb and as my breakfast. yum.

      i think it’s fantastic that you wrote a whole novel in an entirely different manner (pantser) than normal (plotter) because now you know it’s not the best action plan for you.

      and i too am ridiculous at directions. i try really hard, but it just doesn’t compute. i wonder if i took to directions like i did writing — pick a few major turns (plot points) to hit and then go from there. i wouldn’t be as stressed driving/walking because the route is flexible. hmm, have we just solved one of my biggest flaws?????

  5. Jeffe Kennedy Says:

    For me, it pretty much has to be classical – or mainly in an unintelligible or foreign language, so Enya works. Classical movie soundtracks work great for me. Favorites: The Mission, Master and Commander, and Pride and Prejudice.

    • abby mumford Says:

      ah ha, so you’re of the “listens to music, but only that without lyrics” group. i bet you were listening to master and commander when you wrote some of your racier scenes, eh? ;)

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