Music, to me, is a powerful thing. My dad is a huge music lover, so I grew up listening to an array of sixties and seventies music. As I’ve grown older my tastes are eclectic, to say the least. I’m just as likely to be listening to Abba as I am Beethoven; Nirvana as I am Imogen Heap and everything in between. It all depends on my mood.
What amazes me about music is how it can conjure up such strong emotions. Often it has nothing to do with the music itself, but the memories it stirs. Mercy by Duffy is a great example. It ranks high on my list of all-time favourite songs, just hearing it can sometimes make me cry as it was number one when my son was born. I don’t like the song, but I love what it represents. Similarly, there is a particular song which I used to love but now reminds me of an unpleasant time, so I physically cannot listen to more than the opening bars.
I know many writers can’t write whilst listening to music. I’m the opposite; if I have peace and quiet, it seems so unnatural I can’t concentrate. (I suppose that’s what you get from having an extremely loud three year-old.)
When I’m working on a big piece of writing, I like to make playlists for my main characters, filled with songs that sum up their journey. I find that listening to them helps me get into the mood of the story; plus, it’s something I can do even when I don’t have time to sit down and write.
In the same way as having visual aids – notes, pictures – to help me focus, music sometimes helps me overcome writers block.
Do you use music to help your writing? What influences your musical choices?