Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Sweet Sound of Silence

Music. It affects moods, elevates game play, and inspires creativity. I know a lot of authors who write with a play list. Others randomly select certain types of music depending upon what they're writing. Classical for an epic novel, alternative or grunge for YA dysfunction, country for, well, a western.

Me? I like the blessed sound of silence. Nothing but the low burble of a water filter in the fish tank that I can't for the life of me stifle. It became SO much easier to write when my youngest kids finally went off to school full time. Then I had a teenager drop in again when college didn't go so well, and the muted sounds of the television just outside my door drove me freakin' nuts. He's gone now, working and living successfully on his own. But the other teenager, recently graduated from high school, is still finding her way. Thankfully, she's as quiet as a church mouse, so no worries there.

To put together the right words for the right mood and tone, I need to concentrate. I have a difficult time doing that when my brain has to compete with lyrics to a song or the upbeat tempo of something lively when I'm trying to convey deep stillness or sadness.

I do like to listen to music and story-board when I work out though, and I often accompany a pounding techno beat to an imagined action sequence for a pending story idea. Since I like techno and rave, I often imagine kick-ass heroines pounding bad guys into the dirt. The music is like a personal sound track and gets my legs pumping and my brain thumping.

I've always been envious of other authors who can listen to music, have kids crawling over them, and create in a rowdy, raucous atmosphere, because I can't imagine it. My muse is strictly a no-noise kind of guy. And now, he's telling me I have to get back to my work in progress. I'm up to 37K words and still going strong. So much for ending at 40K.

As I end this post, I'd like to share a recent find courtesy of satellite radio. The song is an oldie but a goodie, and I'm totally into it. When I work out that is, not when writing. Enjoy the Sneaker Pimps' Spin Spin Sugar (Armand's mix)

Oh, and if you liked this, you might dig the Sneaker Pimps vs Ying Yang Twins too.


Cindy Spencer Pape said...

We're all so different, Marie! Nothing blocks my writing more than the sound of silence!

Donica Covey said...

I'm a total MUST have MUSIC person. I prefer to be alone in the house--obvious exception is the spoiled Cairn terrier under my chair and the pampered Ragdoll Hymalian lying on my DH's desk who ignores my very existance.

My books were each written to a specific sound track. The H/h "told" me their musical likes and dislikes andI create a playlist based upon those.

I would go insane wihtout writing to music. And funny enough, When it's on, I dont know what I've heard until I stop to take a break and it dawns on me I missed a specific song. My brain knows it's there but it's like I zone in and tune it out. So why bother? Because if I didnt, I wouldnt be able to write.

I too envy people who can write with a flurry of activity around them. When my DH was unemployed for 19 months, I couldnt write, he was ALWAYS home and constantly in the room. My DD is a college student and has a job so she's now rarely home. I LOVE the solitude!


Keri Stevens said...

I'm with you. Total silence. I can edit with lyric-free music on, but I cannot draft with ambient sound.

Marie Harte said...

That funky, wacky, creative process. Such a mystery, ah, Cindy?

:) Marie

Marie Harte said...

I used to have my dogs--both labs--in the room. But then Floyd would start licking, and Slim start clicking around with his nails, and it drove me nuts. That grooming when one dog slurps the other's ears annoys the crap out of me. My study is a no-grooming room!
Yeah, the poor dogs. I feel sorry for them too. haha


Marie Harte said...

Thank you, Keri. I think you're the first person who's also said she can't work with noise. It's weird, but I too edit with low music on. To make it a little more fun, maybe?


Miranda Baker said...

I usually create a soundtrack for each WIP. I'll listen to it to get in the mood to write but usually turn it off in annoyance when I really get going. I can't turn off my four year old son, though!
Music is absolutely essential to my process. I usually get an "ear worm" stuck in my head for weeks on end that really inspires me. For my novella (coming soon!) it was Eminem and Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie." Love it!

Becka said...

I have one dog. Two cats. And five kids. In order to write, I need to zone. In order to zone, I need my headphones and some music. Sometimes lyrics distract me and I end up singing more than writing. That's why I have a few instrumental channels on Pandora.

I feel my writing is better while listening to music. If the song is tugging on my heartstrings, I'm more likely to put more emotion into the scenes.

But I also need relative isolation to write, which is why I drag my laptop around the house to get away, because all my kids but the toddler can read, and that's not always a good thing. ;) But the headphones help drown out the background noise.


Marie Harte said...

I LOVE that song. I don't know what it is about Eminem, but I find his voice and his music really addicting. Not his content, mind you, but his voice and beats. I don't know why...

Marie Harte said...

Holy crap, Becka! You need a nanny!

Well, I write in silence, but I close my door because I have teenager at home. And now that the seven year old is reading everything, and the five year old can figure out four letter words, it's not so easy to write with the door open anymore. sigh. Not like the old days.

Jane Lovering said...

I'm with you Marie! I've got five kids, four cats, two dogs, a husband who talks to me while I'm trying to work...and it drives me INSANE! Always someone banging on the door, watching TV, yelling...why would I want music to add to the background cacophony? I crave peace, perfect peace and silence to write, and since I can't get it I wear noise-cancelling ear-defenders while I work. Ha! Let's see them yell past those babies!

Marie Harte said...

Hey Jane.

Yeah, I've had a few "come to Jesus" moments with my husband about interrupting when the door is closed. A knock, followed by "Whatcha doing?"" drives me crazy. He knows darn well what I'm doing!!!! But now that the kids are in school and I no longer have to write at night, it's a lot easier to work without everyone underfoot. I feel for you. I truly do.


Annabeth Carew said...

I'm with you, Marie. I cannot have any music at all. It is impossible for me not to be distracted by music, and I know I will start tapping my foot or singing along. Gotta have silence!

Shona Husk said...

I always listen to music when I write. And I create playlists. They help bring me back to the story when it's time to edit.

Marie Harte said...

Exactly, Annabeth! That's my take on music too. I get way too distracted too easily.


Marie Harte said...

Hey Shona. Seems like playlists for folks who like to write with music are the way to go. Think about what life was like before iTunes! :)

Sandrine O'Shea said...

Put me in the "silence" camp, too. Music is too distracting when I'm writing, though before I write a hot love scene, I find Leonard Cohen's "I'm Your Man" inspiring.

Mary Hughes said...

Oh, thank heavens. I thought I was the only one who can't have music going when I write. Maybe because, as a musician, I've been trained to listen to music with my full attention...which makes for some fun in the elevator or grocery store :)

Thank you for this post, Marie!

Marie Harte said...

Hey Sandrine and Mary. Silence-lovers, unite! haha. I always feel somehow inadequate that I can't tune everything out. Now when reading, I pretty much ignore everything. My house could burn down and my eyes would still be glued to a novel. But writing, well, my muse likes it peaceful. So much easier to come up with words when you're not competing with lyrics.