writing about writing

On Writing and Music

Posted by Flood on May 17, 2006

I’ve read two bloggers who mentioned music and the writing process recently.

Bernita Harris
– “So it’s no surprise that writers often comment on the type of music they play to energize the process and drive their imagination…”

Fringes– “I use my jukebox to create my environment and, apparently, I was in need of a revamp… “

Well, it never occurred to me to use music. I’m an idiot.

I remember in high school, our English teacher played the radio during writing assignments and told us that when we couldn’t hear it anymore and were completely focused on what we were doing, that was ‘the zone.’ In the days of long hand I would get in the zone so deeply that when I came out of it, I couldn’t remember who talked to me or if I answered them or the house had caught on fire. I was shocked by the time that passed. We’ve all had those moments, completely absorbed in some activity and the world falls away.

Since using the blog and word processor (or whatever the thing is I use,) somehow, I decided that real writers who actually type, need complete silence, no interruptions, no distraction, no-fun-allowed, while agonizing over their craft. They need to brood. They need to be grave, earnest, solemn, sedate, staid and somber. They also need to be completely dedicated to their thesaurus. In essence, somewhere in this adventure I determined that the intellect was more important than the imagination.

Flood’s imagination: Remember when we got all in the zone and shit? That was tight, man.
Flood’s intellect: Perhaps that was before we considered other people perusing our work.
F’s imag: Whoa! That was, like, totally the point. Sharing our wicked ideas with other wicked people.
F’s intel: Yes, well now we have to make sure that everything is clear and concise.
F’s imag: Dude! Can’t we just work mad skills out in front of people?
F’s intel: I suppose, but we had better be coherent when ‘working it out.’
F’s imag: Could you zip it once in a while, though? You take the fun out of everything.
F’s intel: When we wrote privately, you begged for my assistance to give credibility to our work.
F’s imag: You don’t understand me. I’m outta here.
F’s intel: Take the vampire storyline with you. It’s been done.

Yes. My imagination is a petulant 14 year old boy.

I pressured myself with expectations that made my imagination throw a temper tantrum. I have to destroy self-doubt and get imagination and intellect to work in tandem again. I’ll try anything. Therefore, armed with this idea of music being helpful, I put on my headphones and tried it out tonight.

track 1: Lose Yourself – Eminem. No good. Danced too much. Took up the entire kitchen with my booty-shaking. Kids whisper among themselves and look at me as though I have three heads. Mister wants to know if I have been drinking. No writing done.

track 2: Shake That – Eminem. Just had to keep dancing. Worked up a good sweat. Considered the social message of the song. No writing done.

track 3: Crash – Dave Mathews Band. Trying to bring it down a little, I pick a slower song. Now, I feel pretty, ’cause Dave thinks I’m hot. No writing done.

track 4: The Boxer – Simon and Garfunkle. I figure a song that tells a story is just the thing. I am right. Words are coming now. Yes, they are the lyrics, but I’m typing.

track 5: Doo Wap (That Thing) – Lauryn Hill. Obviously, I did not learn my lesson from Eminem. No writing done. I’m getting a good workout, though.

track 6: Horses – Tori Amos. I think that maybe moody chick music will be the key. I’m wrong. I go to my piano and rock out until Mister interrupts me. He asks me if I want to go for a walk. I tell him I far too busy to leave the house. “With what?” He asks, as though it’s not perfectly clear.

“I’m writing.”


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