Monday, September 30, 2013

Writing To Music?

Music and writing, while they go hand in hand for most people, it rarely did for me. Usually, the only time I would listen to music while writing would be while I was applying a boat load of editing notes to a second draft of a given manuscript. Beyond that, music was a bona fide major league distraction of epic proportions.

But sometimes, certain things do change, and listening to music while writing was one of them.

I've mentioned previously that I was reworking and rewriting a very old (about six years) crime novella/novel, so that it would be more in line with what I was already writing (paranormal). However, I knew I had my work cut out for me, because while I had originally written this thing while I was still able to channel some anger into my writing, I had no such reservoir to help me now.

But... I did have an idea on how to get some of that anger, or rather, that particular mindset back. Some time ago, I remember reading a comment put forth by Charles Gramlich, either on his blog or on mine, on how he would often listen to hard rock/heavy metal in order to write battles scenes for his stories.

I thought if that can work for him maybe it can work for me.

Enter my record collection.

After going on a brief search and destroy, I found some heavy metal/hard rock to listen to. First up were two Metallica LP's: Masters of Puppets and Garage Days Re-Revisited.

That music was just what the doctor ordered as the opening notes of "Battery" instantly got me into the necessary frame of mind to rewrite the story.

Dark violent music equals sometimes dark and seriously violent writing.

It took me almost a half dozen attempts before I was able to listen to each album in its entirety. The end result from those two albums with roughly a quality pages of prose (I had originally started rewriting the lighter music, but switched up when I realized that the rest of the novella/novel required darker and heavier stuff).

As I've mentioned earlier, I started with some Metallica, but soon realized that if I wanted to continue down this vein of darkness I was going to need a larger dose of heavy metal.

A quick search of my memory bank brought up an early eighties compilation entitled The Best Of Metal Blade, Volume 1. So I spent a few weeks frying my brain cells out to early eighties heavy metal (i.e. Fates Warning, Airax, Bitch and Celtic Frost). Did a world of good for pumping up the anger quotient for my writing.

Once I mentioned to finish off that very nice double LP, I quickly search my memory banks and came up with Motorhead.

Gracing my turntable right now is the first of about four Motorhead albums, entitled 1916.

I do have some other heavy metal/hard rock floating around, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden for example, that should keep me occupied for the rest of the novella/novel.

Sometimes, you just have to open your mind to new sources of creativity, inspiration, and a new way of getting things done.


  1. If I listen to music while writing, it must be music that I've heard a gazillion times before so that the lyrics don't distract me. If it's a new CD, I will get distracted by listening to it consciously.

  2. Hmm, yes, the distracting vs. helping qualities of music are difficult to balance. I used to listen to music while studying, but I got out of the habit, and now I find it distracting when I'm trying to read. I can have music on in the background while I'm writing, but as soon as I go back to proofread I need absolute silence.

  3. Debra: Makes perfect sense. For me, if I'm going to write to music long term, it has to be stuff that 1) I'm not overly familiar with and 2) something that won't distract me.

    Nothing worse that listening to a new piece of music (like a new c.d.) or a new old piece of music (like exploring one's record collection) that start getting into while writing.

    The heavy metal music that I got, while I'm overly familiar with the bands, I don't really pay attention to the lyrics. I pay more attention to the rhythm/melody than anything else.

    S.R.: I hear you on that. If I'm reading, the most music I'll listen to are the birds when I'm sitting outdoors. Otherwise, I need quiet in order to fully enjoy what I'm reading.

  4. I can totally see how Judas Priest and Iron Maiden would come in handy in that genre.

    I like to have music on almost all the time, but although I like Ozzy, I don't think he'd help with my children's stories ;)

  5. M: Just think how great a children's story written under the influence of Ozzy could be. Children's horror at its finest. :D

  6. Motorhead is definitely a good one to pump up the aggression levels for battle scenes. My favorite by them for this is "Deaf Forever." I believe it's on the Orgasmatron album.

  7. Charles: I find Motorhead to exceptional for helping me pump up the drug culture violence as well. Not sure what I'm going to switch to the further I get into the story, but if I want to keep the entire thread in the same vein, I'll have to keep with metal/hard rock.

    BTW, just recently listened to a good mid-80's metal band called Grim Reaper.

  8. I can't do anything, whilst listening to music, it's all consuming to me. If I drive with the radio on, the off button always gets hit if I'm doing a tricky manoeuvre in the car. Music is very much, all or nothing for me.

  9. Joe: I agree with about killing the radio while driving. My hearing is really poor, having about 15% hearing in my left ear, so very often I will kill the radio while driving if my passenger is trying to talk to me.


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