27 August 2010

The Sound of Music

Lordy! It’s already my turn for the motivational thingy again?!? I think this particular subject is the toughest one of all, especially for procrastinators like Yours Truly. Some days I am almost flying high on the Motivational Jet Plane, while other days I’m sinking faster than Titanic into the murky waters of the I’ll-Do-It-Another-Day ocean.

It’s really annoying, this motivational malarkey. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulously handy thing to have around, but when it’s not there you’re kind of screwed. And sometimes you need to be motivated just to get motivated, if you know what I mean, and quite frankly some days I need a kick up the butt just to get out of bed, never mind do anything that is the least productive.

Of course, this motivation thingy applies to anything and everything, not just writing, but seeing as this is supposed to be an informative and useful writer’s blog, I suppose I should probably try to stick to the subject at hand.

Which is motivation, in case that wasn’t obvious already....

Anyway, I’m probably the last person to ask for advice about pulling your finger out and using it (along with your other digits) to write that bestseller, but in a funny way I am probably also the best person too. Confuzzlegasted? I’m the worst because I can safely say that I am the least motivated Burrower in the history of the, er, Burrowers (which isn’t all that long now that I think about it, which kind of takes the point of the phrase away, but never mind), so it’s kind of like asking the Devil about feather boas and fishnet stockings (which, now that I think about it [I seem to be doing this a lot today, sorry] might not be that strange at all if he’s a kinky kind of Devil).

What was I talking about? Oh, yes – something about me being the worst and the best person all in one. So, as for me being one of the best people to consult when seeking motivational advice, I say this because although I’m notorious for slacking in the writing department, when I do get my Motivational Mojo flowing, I can type like the Devil himself (though not that kinky one with the feather boa and fishnets).

So on those rare occasions when I do get fired up, what were the triggers? What was it that gave me the push that was big enough to get me out of my writing slump? I don’t have many triggers, but there are one or two things that really help. I’m going to use an example from a recent(ish) writing ‘success’ for today’s blog (yes, I know it's a ramble and a half, but I do get there eventually).

Back in January 2009, I had been hearing the same song over and over on the radio for weeks on end (luckily I liked the darn thing or I would have gone doo-lally). I was re-reading the final Harry Potter book one day, and I happened to hear this particular song just as I was reading the chapter which detailed, through a series of flashbacks, the relationship between two peripheral characters. I didn’t really think anything of it, but when I went to bed later that night, my brain was humming the song and thinking of the characters from the book at the same time (I know, the fact that my brain did two things at once shocked me too *snort*). I don’t remember dreaming about it or anything, but when I awoke the following morning, I had a full story in my head and proceeded to write it over the next three days. Now this wasn’t a novel by any means, but it was 15k words, so not bad at all in my humble opinion.

It was the song that did it. Okay, the fact that I can get kind of obsessed with writing the history of Harry Potter characters that we know little about helps, but it was the song that pushed me into writing. I’ve always enjoyed using songs and their lyrics to inspire short stories, but it wasn’t until I wrote this particular story that I realised how powerful a tool music can be. Since then I have frequently used music as a motivational tool; whatever genre you are writing, there’s bound to be a music type to suit. Enya’s haunting voice was constantly in the background when I was writing my first ‘original’ novel (I really need to dig the CD collection out actually, because I still haven’t finished that particular story *shifty*), while when I was writing my NaNo novel last year, I had MTV Hits on in the background, which mostly played disco-y stuff at the time what with the festive season approaching and everything. This was absolutely perfect for getting into the head of my main character, who is sort of a funky modern-day Cinderella.

Yes, music could prove to be a distraction – I wouldn’t recommend blasting it till your windows shatter, for example – but the right music can really make a difference, and if you haven’t tried it already, then I highly recommend it. If it can help me, the Person Most Likely To Never Finish Her First Novel, then maybe it can help you too.

*Image courtesy of publicdomainpicturesdotnet


Jan Morrison said...

definitely music for me too. Not neccesarily playing but in my mind...that sounds weird but hey. Also little pictures and do-hickeys that remind me I chose this life.
Jan Morrison

CA Heaven said...

It's strange, but there are some songs I associate with certain books. For instance Stairway to heaven (Led Zeppelin) still reminds me of The Hound of the Baskerville, bacause I was listening to the song over and over when I read that book back in 1979 >:)

Cold As Heaven

Amie Borst said...

other than being a writer, i'm a musician, too. so i could never go a single day without music. especially when i'm writing. there's a huge difference in my productivity when i listen to music, vs. when i don't. huge.

ViolaNut said...

I love listening to music when I write, but there is a catch - it cannot, under any circumstances, have lyrics. I'm totally incapable of what I call double-verbal multitasking - I can't talk and read, or talk and type, or read while listening to the news, nothing like that. Maximum of one verbal activity at a time, or I either garble them up or completely block one out, making it pointless. Give me a string quartet any day (no really, give me a string quartet, I miss it!). ;-)


Deb and Barbara said...

I totally relate to music being a great trigger for writing or for solving writing dilemmas. Funnily, though, I can't do the actual writing with music on. Hmmmm...

Hart Johnson said...

Tara, I don't think you are 'least motivated' by any stretch of the imagination--you have finished a book and written part of a second!

And I don't think there is any doubt at ALL that the devil likes boas and fishnets--all bad boys do by the time I'm through with them.

I think I am like Leanne--I don't think instrumental would interfere, but I can't WRITE with lyricky stuff. I DO occasionally though, get inspired by a song (my 2nd book in my trilogy goes with an Offspring song *shifty*)

Cruella Collett said...

I constantly listen to music when I write, both as a means of blocking out other sounds, and because the music motivates me. I sometimes find myself typing along in the rhytm of the song... Good if I'm on the right track, not so good if I'm typing nonsense... (as I often am, of course)