Music and Writing by Georgie Donaghey
I've heard this talked about a lot lately and never really paid it much thought, as it goes hand in hand when I am writing. It wasn't until I attended a recent course at my local writers' centre and the presenter talked about the importance of playing music when he writes. The surprised reaction from his attentive audience got me thinking; how many people use music to help inspire them when writing?
I asked a few writer friends and discovered it's about half/half. Some prefer loud music, some total silence. Others found music too distracting, especially if listening to previously unheard tracks. While those who listened to familiar music found it a beneficial component to their writing.
I experienced the benefit of using music to help spark memories or reactions in those affected by dementia, during my final visits with my mother. It temporarily released her from her vegetative state and allowed her to smile, cry and even sing. The response was amazing!
Music leaves footprints on our brain, deeper than any other human experience. It is a powerful tool that is used to inspire, entertain and to sell. Flash back to the Vegemite, Aeroplane Jelly, Louie the Fly (Mortein) and who can forget C'mon Aussie, C'mon (Cricket) commercials? It can invoke memories from times long past and comfort us in times of need. So how does music affect the writing process?
Just as music is used in movies, try watching your favourite movie without it. It can also be used when writing. If you can resist the urge to sing along and embrace it as white noise music, it can help you to focus and get into the mood of your story. It can help build the personalities of your characters. Music can be used to help frame a specific scene; for example harnessing the crescendos from a classical piece to put you into an action scene will hopefully help the words to flow. Remember Jaws.
A bumbling, clumsy scene could be assisted with the bouncy Elephant Walk song. Just as a romantic scene could be helped listening to the likes of Celine Dion or Lionel Richie.
Whatever you are working on, music can help channel the mood and allow you to translate your emotions onto the page. It can unlock doors to your memories and when splashed with an element of fiction, could be a story in itself.
Why not try creating a writing soundtrack/playlist for your next writing project. Whether it is rock, classical, country, jazz, popular or instrumental music can empower our writing. You might be surprised.
Well said, Georgie. Music intervention is used in hospitals particularly for children with burns. On a literary note, one of my favourite crime authors, Adrian McKinty, uses music throughout his writing process and the titles of his books are from songs. Me? I like it quiet!