Posted in Music, writing

Writing Soundtracks: Songs and albums I listen to while I write, and tips for making writing playlists

Ooh, would you look at that! A new header!

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I got a notification this morning, and apparently I’ve had this blog running for…5 years? WHOAAAAA, OKAY, I FORGOT ABOUT THAT

I didn’t start semi-seriously book blogging until about a year ago, but thank you to everybody who has supported me along the way! (And for those of you who had to witness what this blog was like when I was in middle school…I’m terribly sorry for the horrors you experienced.)

ANYWAY, I figured I should start doing writing-related posts more frequently, so here’s my first(ish?) stab at it.

Many members of the writing community use music in a number of ways in the process of creating their WIP, be it picking specific songs or albums to listen to while writing, or creating book or character playlists. Music is an integral part of my life, and I’ve managed to weave it into my writing life as well. I always listen to music when I write, so I thought that I would first share some songs, albums, and scores that I like the most to get me writing my WIPs.

INSTRUMENTAL SCORES

I think there’s been several studies about how instrumental scores help with studying, but for a lot of people, music without lyrics is helpful to focus on their writing, and is less distracting than music with lyrics. I use a mix of music with and without lyrics in writing, but for those of you who are strictly instrumental, here are some of my favorite albums–mostly film scores, mind you–that I use when writing:

Danny Elfman - Hellboy 2 (OST) - Amazon.com Music

Hellboy II: The Golden Army original score–Danny Elfman

Yes, yes, I know I blab about this masterpiece quite a lot, but hey, it’s Danny Elfman doing the score–what’s not to like? The score ranges from whimsically spooky to action-packed to tear-jerking, so it’s perfect for writing scenes of all kinds.

Radiohead for Solo Piano | Josh Cohen

Radiohead for Solo Piano–Josh Cohen

Even if you aren’t familiar with Radiohead, this is a spectacular collection of their pieces adapted into instrumental, piano form. I particularly like “Motion Picture Soundtrack” and “Black Star.”

Trent Reznor / Atticus Ross: Watchmen (Music from the HBO Series ...

Watchmen original score–Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Much of this one is electronic, but with a wide range of moods; either way, it’s always catchy, and perfectly cinematic. Also, there’s a gorgeous instrumental cover of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars?”, so of course I’d recommend it.

Anything by Jeff Russo, really

Russo has such a wide range, composition-wise, and every single score I’ve come across by him is nothing short of stellar. Some of my favorites include his scores for Legion (FX), and The Umbrella Academy (Netflix), but he’s also scored everything from Cursed to Lucy in the Sky and Fargo (the TV show)

NON-INSTRUMENTAL SONGS AND ALBUMS

I cram loads of music onto my writing playlists, but there’s several particular songs and albums that get me more focused/motivated/immersed in my writing than others, so here goes nothing…

Kid A Cover - How Radiohead's Most Alienating Album Got Its Cover

Kid A–Radiohead

Besides the fact that one of my WIPs features a character who is obsessed with this album, the sheer range of emotion in this album is stunning. Though it’s chiefly electronic, I’ve used these songs from everything from battle scenes to a funeral scene.

Recommended tracks:

Mitski: Bury Me at Makeout Creek Album Review | Pitchfork

Bury Me at Makeout Creek–Mitski

Another very emotional album, this one’s always great for writing scenes associated with any form of love, whether it’s the promise of it, being in the throes of it, or being apart from it. Then again, you’re talking to somebody who has had zero (0) experience with any sort of relationships, so take this as you will.

Recommended tracks:

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot By Wilco Album Cover Location

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot–Wilco

Apparently they called this album “the American Kid A” when it came out, so…did I cheat and put Kid A on here twice? If so, I don’t regret it.

Ranging from punchy, classic rock songs and dreamlike, melancholic hazes of emotion, I highly recommend this album for scenes charged with emotion–doesn’t matter what emotion we’re talking about, because there’s easily a song or two on here for everything.

Recommended tracks:

Phoebe Bridgers: Stranger in the Alps Album Review | Pitchfork

Stranger in the Alps–Phoebe Bridgers

Though I don’t like every song on the album, I’d say about 3/4 of it is positively stellar. Definitely on the sadder side, but it’s perfect for channeling strong emotion in your writing.

Recommended tracks:

David Bowie - Hunky Dory - Amazon.com Music

Hunky Dory–David Bowie

Besides being, y’know, the pinnacle of music, this one is chock-full of tracks that not only help me bring emotion and heart into my writing, but with songs that motivate me to write.

Recommended tracks:

GENERAL WRITING PLAYLIST TIPS

I saw a piece of advice the other day about making two writing playlists: listen to one of them while writing it, and a different one when you’re editing or making the second draft, so that you’re put into a different mindset while re-reading it.

For making the playlists themselves, I usually just dump several songs I like, and go through songs as I write. If there’s a song that takes me out of the writing or has been in circulation for a few times too many, I take it off and replace it.

Just for fun, here are snippets of mine:

And yes, I did color-coordinate the album covers. It’s fun…

(Or, alternatively, “the one that I accidentally dumped all the Weezer on” and “the one without any Weezer at all”)

I also like to cobble together playlists for each of my WIPs: here, I include songs with lyrics that relate to the story, or that just have the general vibe of the WIP. For some of them, I also create character playlists going off of the same rule. For my sci-fi book, there are six different perspectives (or, I’m going to make it that way once I get around to editing it), so I have a playlist for each of them. For my current WIP, however, there’s only one perspective, so I just keep it at the protagonist.

What do you think? What are your musical techniques for writing? What’s your favorite music to write to?

Since there’s a boatload of music in this post, consider the entire thing “today’s song.”

That’s it for this writing post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Random, Stories, writing

On Writing, and Overcoming Unexpected and Frustrating Obstacles

Two posts? In one day? It’s more likely than you think.

 

The other day, I added a little image to the sidebar of this blog, the winner image for NaNoWriMo 2019. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers post about their progress with it, but I neglected to even think about updating my progress on here, for no apparent reasons other than my inherent laziness. But yes, I did participate in NaNoWriMo 2019 (It’s a lovely program for all you writers/aspiring writers, if you haven’t tried it out). 2019 was my third year participating, and I can speak to the amazing results that it produces. 20,000 words, people, 20,000 words!

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And on that subject…yes, I love to write. I want to be a writer when I get older, and I’ve currently got 3 WIPs in progress…none of them even close to finished, but we’ll just ignore that. Even though I wanted to go into biology until about middle school, I think that my passion for writing’s always been there, it just took me a while to realize that it was more of a passion than a hobby. (*glances at my current grade in Honors Bio* yeeeeesh, okay, goodbye, biology…) Currently, I’m not super comfortable with sharing the premises of said WIPs, but one of my goals in 2020 is to try and overcome that fear, little by little. I mean, I’ve got to do it eventually if I want to get these bad boys published…

Two of my three WIPs are kind of on hold at the moment, as I kind of hit a lag of inspiration for both of them. That, and both of them were written before it dawned on me that I should probably outline things before I write them down.

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[present self glares at past self]
The third one was the one that I started during NaNoWriMo 2019. For now, all I’ll say is that Star Wars was a major, major influence on it, and it involves a lot of patriarchy smashing, rock music, and reluctant familial bonds.

On the subject of said sci-fi WIP, I encountered a problem with it the other day. I had about a half an hour before I was going to leave to see The Rise of Skywalker with my family, and I decided to crank out some writing. I’d gotten to a scene that I’d played over innumerable times in my head, and I was absolutely ecstatic to get back to writing. But…all of my dreams were crushed when I opened up the file and got a series of messages about invalid file formats and Pages not being able to read it. With a little help from my mom (thank you so much for trying to help, by the way) and the internet (thanks for nothing, Mr. “Your file is probably toast”…I mean, you were right, but…), I tried to do technological CPR on my writing, but to no avail. I was considerably frustrated and distraught at the thought of almost 40,000 words, 60 pages, and many long hours of writing had promptly been flushed away.

But after the initial shock (and a healthy dose of Star Wars), I decided to try and turn my attitude around. Maybe this could be a growing opportunity, an opportunity to start all over, but with some different elements. I’d wanted to change my perspective from 1st to 3rd person anyway, right? And so, I polished up what’s done of my outline, (See, past self? It’s not so bad…), and I started the WIP over last night. (And I actually saved the file to my computer and backed it up on my Writing flashdrive, so that’s probably a better idea.) I’m only at about 1 1/2 pages and barely 1,000 words, but hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere.

Moral of the story? Anything can be an opportunity to start anew. Whether or not you’re dealing with an uncooperative Pages file, starting over, though it can be awfully tedious, is not your enemy.

Oh, also, save important documents in more than one place. That’s always helpful.