Not In The Mood

19 Jul

Today was the day where I discovered, once and for all, that the song “Splish Splash, I Was Taking A Bath” does NOT go well with writing a scene where my main guy has just suffered some pretty major humiliation.

Not that there was ever any question about that.

Also, I discovered that it’s much easier to get in the head of a misfit who’s just been mocked by everyone he knows when my desktop background is vicious, like the one pictured here.  Lightning strikes = OUCH.  Soothing, green-more-suited-for-a-spa foliage complete with fresh, plump, hopeful water droplet?  Not so much.

I’m glad to report that despite my set-backs (read: irritating music at Starbucks¹), I still managed to write a good chunk of the difficult scene today.

However, it was only after a) clearing the clutter from my living room, b) escaping from horrid music into a haven of silence, and c) morphing my desktop from tranquil to terrifying, that I actually made some solid progress.  Some days, I can block out the stuff that pulls me from my WIP world.  Today?  Not so much.  I had to work extra hard to put myself in a mood where I could conjure up a scene with authentic heart behind it.

So, I ask you: do you listen to music when you write, or do you prefer silence, like I do?  Do you have any go-to music that helps you get into a writing mindset?  Does anyone have any other tricks that help you settle into a scene (bonus points if said tricks are used to help you transition from an irritated, distracted mind to a focused one)?

Okay.  I need to end this and let my poor Crazy Kitten out of his room, or else both the door and the carpet will be torn to shreds in a few minutes.  Better guzzle my water before he sticks his cute little paw inside and spills it over everything.

¹Which, according to a friend who works there, I “have the power to change, if I just let them know I hate it” (something I would have remembered and taken full advantage of, had I not been prone to irritation this morning)

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14 Responses to “Not In The Mood”

  1. Megs - Scattered Bits Monday / 19 July 10 at 8:18 pm #

    Music, music, music. I find the words don’t matter much, because I tend to block them out or just feel the emotions behind them. (Oddly enough, instrumental music is HARDER for me to write by. :boggles: ) But tone is everything. For intense stories, I listen to a lot of Nichole Nordeman (more Brave, less Woven), Steve MacDonald (his four Highland CDs are a Godsend), and the eclectic mixes I whipped up ages ago all based on tone.

    Mostly, I like intense. :grins:

    I have one playlist that starts out with “Adore” by Andy Chrissman (sp?), then “Hey You, It’s Me” by Michael W. Smith, “Speechless” by Steven Curtis Chapman, and “Fly” by Steve MacDonald. Usually kicks me into mood right away. When in serious need, I go for “Make Me Believe” by Katie Armiger. That’s intense.

    • owlandsparrow Tuesday / 20 July 10 at 10:35 am #

      I’m so opposite of you when it comes to words v. no words. Unless they’re in another language (such as French, which I don’t speak), they tend to distract me. I agree, though, tone is everything. That’s a good way to put it. I love Nichole Nordeman, and forgot I loved her, haha. Thanks for reminding me – I should try that album out.

      I haven’t heard a lot of those other songs, but I do like intense, so perhaps I’ll check them out, too. Thanks, Megs! :)

  2. Linda Cassidy Lewis Monday / 19 July 10 at 8:27 pm #

    Congrats for getting some of that difficult scene written!

    I can’t believe so many of you get any work done ever in a public place. I have to be home, preferably alone, in silence to get any real writing done.

    Beforehand, I sometimes listen to songs that evoke the same emotion I need to write. But usually, I just close my eyes and “live” the scene. I can’t write it until I feel it.

    Good words tomorrow.

    • owlandsparrow Tuesday / 20 July 10 at 10:41 am #

      Thanks, Linda! I finished that scene this morning, dark and early, and I’m pleased enough with it. I have a feeling I’ll need to tweak things here and there when I re-read it, but generally speaking, it’s much better.

      Coffee shops/public places are pretty hit or miss with me. This particular Starbucks feels like a living room, most of the time, since I’m friends with all the baristas and feel super-comfortable here. They know me, and they know what I’m working on and why I stay so long, so I don’t feel awkward camping out for hours with my array of neon writing tools. Usually, as long as I can get focused within five or ten minutes after I arrive, it’s a productive day. Then, there are days like yesterday, when I can’t block things out.

      Being home alone is almost always a win for me, too, though. This is especially the case if I get up and start writing around 6 or 6:30, when the world is still darkish and sleeping.

      Living the scene helps me, too. It definitely did, yesterday, and I nearly cried for my little guy just imagining what he was suffering.

      Thanks for the good words, my friend! I wish them to you, too!! :)

  3. Merrilee Monday / 19 July 10 at 9:27 pm #

    Well done you for sticking with it!

    I can’t write to music, though I do brainstorm to it, sometimes. I prefer the silence of my own thoughts :)

    • owlandsparrow Tuesday / 20 July 10 at 10:46 am #

      Thanks, Merrilee! It frustrates me when I desperately want to stick with it and then get irritated-because-I’m-distracted/distracted-because-I’m-irritated! It’s such a vicious cycle!! I’m glad, though, that I was able to break that cycle, push through it, and get something done. Not all days end so well after beginnings like that, haha. :) Thanks for your encouragement!

  4. Lua Tuesday / 20 July 10 at 11:06 am #

    I write with music. Headphones but not so loud and not just with any music- each project has its own soundtrack and for me it really makes a difference. I feel like I write much better with music, I wrote my entire novel listening to Bright Eyes (and only Bright Eyes). Thank God they have more than 20 albums :)
    That said, I can only read in silence otherwise I read the same paragraph twice ot three times just to understand.

    • owlandsparrow Tuesday / 27 July 10 at 6:15 pm #

      I love your idea of making a soundtrack for each project! I’m going to have to try that some day! You’ve inspired me to look up Bright Eyes – I’ve heard of them, but have never actually listened to them. Hope all is well! :)

  5. joyofdawn Tuesday / 20 July 10 at 12:22 pm #

    Music is great for writing. I agree with Merrilee though, I only use it for free writing/brainstorming. Music with words is a no no because I’ll sing and not write. I love music and writing but sometimes they don’t mix for me.
    Silence is a wonder. If people are talking I turn them off as background noise. If I can’t then there is no writing.
    Where I’m writing has a major impact on what I write. What I’m using to write with or on can have an affect too.

    • owlandsparrow Tuesday / 27 July 10 at 6:18 pm #

      Yes! Music with words = Kayla singing along. Which is why I can usually only write to no lyrics or foreign lyrics.

      For being so musical, I’m really turning into a fan of silence, too. I made a 2.5-hour drive to East Texas last week (and back again, of course) without turning music on even once.

      I’m also with you on the where and the what-I’m-writing-with stuff. Those things do make a difference.

  6. Meredith Tuesday / 20 July 10 at 3:22 pm #

    It’s got to be silence for me. I can’t even handle classic music in the background.

    Although I don’t mind putting on some international groove/belly-dance lounge music and dancing a bit before I sit down to write. I don’t know why, but sometimes moving around and forgetting everything and sinking into the music helps me to connect with my intuition.

    • owlandsparrow Tuesday / 27 July 10 at 6:21 pm #

      Hey, Meredith! Sorry it took me so long to write back! :)

      I love the thought of belly-dance lounge music/dancing as a pre-writing ritual, lol. Although…um…I’d definitely have to remember to close my blinds first if I ever tried that. I’m wicked uncoordinated in all things dance (though I’m improving, thanks to zumba class…).

      Thanks for the comment, hope you’re having a great week! :)

  7. Elena Thursday / 22 July 10 at 1:06 pm #

    Every time I put music on I forget it’s playing as I get more involved in writing, and then my writing suspiciously starts to feel…different…any my characters are saying things that don’t seem to fit the scene – and that’s when I realize that the music is choreographing the scene for me and totally messing up my connection to the characters.

    So, no, I don’t use music. I do use music to come up with ideas, however. Nothing like an iPod, a dark night, and crickets surrounding you to get in the inspiration zone.

    I also find when I’ve got a difficult scene to write that changing my writing location can make it less intimidating, like taking the laptop outside or into the car and writing there for a bit, just to put some fresh scenery around you.

    (I do like your idea of changing your desktop!)

    • owlandsparrow Tuesday / 27 July 10 at 6:29 pm #

      Hi, Elena! Thanks for stopping by and commenting – please forgive my super-untimely response!

      That’s such a good point (about the music affecting your writing subconsciously). I so identify with that. Music inspires me, too, but I hardly ever make a point to sit and listen to it. Dark night + iPod + crickets = sounds awesome to me. (Except, right now, crickets are a sore subject in our house. Last night, my husband had to search and destroy one who had made our porch his own personal chirping zone. At midnight-ish.)
      :) Thanks again for stopping by, and for your comment! Hope to see you around again.

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