As I mentioned last week, music helped dissolve the writer’s block I was experiencing. And even when there’s no blockage, I find that playing music while I write helps to get me, and keep me, in the zone. Not only that, as I wrote ‘Change of Life’, certain tunes came to represent particular characters or scenes.
I tend to write in the first person so have to get in role – like an actor – and take on the character’s persona in order to speak their words. To make things even more tricky, in both ‘Change of Life’ and in the novel I’m writing now, I have two narrators – one male and one female. Music has been invaluable for keeping me in character.
So which tracks hit the spot?
When I was writing ‘Change of Life’, Neil Diamond’s ‘Girl You’ll be a Woman Soon’ and Dylan’s ‘Lay Lady Lay’ were crucial when I did Tom’s reminiscence scene as he told of meeting Rosie for the first time. Other’ Tom’ music included Rufus Wainwright’s ‘Sanssouci’ and ‘Do I Disappoint You?’ – as well as Tom Baxter’s ‘Our Love has Changed’ and Blair Douglas’s ‘Sonamarg’. Rosie’s music was anything by Cat Power, Karine Polwart’s ‘Hole in the Heart’ and ‘Terminal Star’ – indeed anything from her ‘Scribbled in Chalk’ album. Gorecki’s ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’ helped with the creation of some of the most poignant scenes in the book.
For the work in progress – I’m finding that the male narrator responds well to Runrig – in particular ‘An Ubhal As Airde’. Greg Laswell’s ‘Your Ghost’ – and several Bat for Lashes tracks also do the job. My female lead communicates well if I play Paloma Faith – especially ‘Stargazer’, Kate Rusby’s ‘Blooming Heather’, and just about anything by Goldfrapp. I also find that ‘Gossip in the Grain’ by Ray La Montagne kick starts each writing session for the new book by getting my head in the right place.
I’ve never been able to work in silence. Maybe it comes from growing up in a big family and a somewhat chaotic household. When I studied for exams at school and university, I had to have music playing. Research has shown that music can help children to learn – certain tempos and styles have been shown to fit certain types of task by affecting specific parts of the brain. For example Mozart is good for learning maths apparently.
So maybe certain types of music feed the muse and fire up the creative neurons.
Whatever’s going on – it works for me.