Friday, May 12, 2017

Best Writing Tip Ever: Use Music. Seriously.

Sometimes silence can be deafening. It can bring out your doubts, fears, and worries. Silence might even make you step away from your keyboard and give up for the day. Silence can silence you.

Here are some ways music can help you avoid that.

Music and Brainstorming

We've all been there, staring at the blank page wondering--what's going to happen next? Or, maybe even--where in the hell do I even start?! You've got an outline, you've got a beatsheet, but just thinking about fleshing that out into an entire novel makes you freeze up like a deer glaring into an oncoming truck's headlights. 

That's where music comes in. Swoops in like a superhero. When I'm frozen in place, I turn to soundtracks from movies or video games. They've always got a throughline beat, which makes it extremely easy to just loop a track and get lost in the music as you backtrack and visualize the scene you're trying to write. 

Music and Focus

Have you ever entered a writing flow state? While writing to the beat of Erik Satire's Gymnopedie during a transition scene, it's easy to get lost and simply flow with the story. Now, while achieving flow is also possible with complete silence, I've found that it's easier to kick out my inner critic if I've got a piece of particular piece of music playing.

Flowing with the story may also require that you understand your story's structure before you move along and let your characters be. Story structure comes naturally to us--as long as we're ignoring our inner critic as we write. What's the best way to ignore a frustrating know-it-all buzzing in your ear like a mosquito? Music.

Music and Inspiration

Writer's block and writer's burnout are all too common when you write every single day. It can be unavoidable, especially when new ideas just aren't coming as fast as they used to. Or, if they're coming so fast you feel as if you simply cannot finish the current project you're working on because you've got this burst of inspiration nagging at you telling you to start another. With both problems, listening to music can help you in two ways: 1. in brainstorming for your next novel idea, and 2. in brainstorming for your current project. 

If you've got the urge to throw your current project in the recycle bin, try closing it. Try sitting back in your chair and visualizing the ending you're working toward. Pull up Youtube and search out epic soundtracks (Two Steps from Hell make some pretty inspirational tracks) that you wouldn't mind blasting in your headphones for ten or so minutes. With the music, write down everything you love about your current project (or, what you used to love, anyway). Get excited about finishing--about writing your next scene, about pulling through to your next plot point. 

And if you're absolutely determined to just scrap your novel and start fresh, try brainstorming about that awesome new idea. Chances are, you'll find that it's not as shiny and special as you thought it was while plowing through the doldrums of your current project. If it is, take the time to journal about it. Find some fresh new music and let that be the soundtrack to your brainstorming session. This is something I recommend all writers do especially if you're like me and you get loads of new ideas every writing session that you can't just drop into your current project. Brainstorming new ideas is a great mental workout that will often pull you out of the doldrums and set you with the inspiration to write.

What are your thoughts on listening to music while writing? Tell me in the comments!


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