Now Brewing: Gloria Jean’s Mudslide: this coffee has been one of my favorites for awhile now. I first got a single K-Cup of it when I bought my Keurig brewer and was given a sample pack of cups. It’s got a rich chocolate flavor that really makes it taste more like a candy bar than a mug of coffee.
Google “Music Inspires Writing” and you’ll get 73,700,000 results–73,700,000 different articles or websites which pertain to music and writing. One of the first featured articles boasts “31 Ways To Find Inspiration for Your Writing,” now I’m always looking for inspiration when I hit “one of those days” when writing doesn’t come as easily, so this article grabs my attention. Music is number 8 on this list–and for good reason.
New Orleans born jazz musician Louis Armstrong was quoted saying, “what we play is life.” For writers, nothing is more important than writing something that reflects life and allows readers to connect. Music brings people together; it’s a universal language. It can spark imagination by painting mental pictures.
Have you ever really listened to lyrics of a song? In a way, each song tells its own story. Rob Stone, high school language arts teacher in Nevada even uses songs to give his students writing prompts. He explains,
“today’s students find inspiration in places beyond the published works traditionally used in the classroom. If we truly want to reach them and make connections, we have to meet them where they are and “link” our world as teachers to their world as millennial learners.”
He uses artists ranging from The Beatles to Run D.M.C. to inspire his students writing.
Jennifer Blanchard, of the Procrastinating Writer’s Blog, challenges writers to “Let Song Lyrics Inspire Your Next Story.” Blanchard explains how many of her short stories were inspired by songs or music videos. She even includes a few lyrics she thinks would make great story-starters. Her story morphed out of the music video of “She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5.
Author T.D. Wulf featured in an earlier post, “With All The Grace of a Pig on a Frozen Pond”, It’s T.D. Wulf” told me his playlist for writing is “as eclectic as [his] stories”–and features a wide array of music artists and styles.
My own writing playlist has been growing since starting Second Shots in August of 2010. As Blanchard described, I just heard a song and the premise for my novel started to enfold in my mind. For this reason alone, music has played a tremendous role in the crafting of Second Shots. My iTunes list has expanded from this single song “Man Who Can’t Be Moved” by The Script to over 50 songs ranging from Weezer to Taio Cruz to Taylor Swift.
The choices I add to the playlist all relate somehow to a character in the novel. For example, for my main character Kyla–who is struggling with her newfound fame, “Ordinary Girl” by Miley Cyrus was added to the list.
For my recovering addict Shane, there was no better fit than “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” by Relient K.
Skyden, who’s lost her way since her parents death, made it only natural for “Weightless”–All Time Low to make its way onto my list.
In the first few parts of my novel, all of the characters are really searching for answers from a higher power. For this reason the song, “Light Up The Sky” by The Afters is one of the most played songs on the list. The initial few lyrics,
“When I’m feeling all alone with so far to go, the signs that know we’re on this road are guiding me home. When the night is closing in is falling on my skin, oh God, will you come close”
really connect with the personal metamorphosis each of my characters is going through as the novel progresses.
Songwriter John Denver wrote that
“Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions.”
By connecting songs to my characters, I’ve allowed myself to better experience their emotions and to understand their stories that need to be told. Music inspired the start of Second Shots almost two years ago–and continues to play an important part as I near the end of my writing journey.
A lot of music I find too comes from recommendations from my friends and sometimes a song just fits whatever my character I’m writing that day is going through. I love getting mix CD’s from my friends and I think that Gym Class Heroes hit it right on when they sang, “Appreciate every mixtape your friends make. You never know we come and go like we’re on the interstate.” In the simple way of making me a CD, many of my friends have influenced my writing. So, shout out to you guys! (Bet you never thought they’d be more than something I’d play in my car!)
Writing to music is just something that works for me–as well as many other people it looks like from those 73,700,000 hits on Google.
Fantasy fiction author, Terry Brooks once said:
“If you do not hear music in your words, you have put too much thought into your writing and not enough heart.”
So, writing is music and music inspires writing. What better reason than to pull out your iPod RIGHT NOW and write to something you like?
I’ve wasted too much time on this post now–time to get to work. “Let’s Get It Started…” (Black Eyed Peas)
See You All Again Soon,
Kathryn E. Weast