Today's post comes courtesy of a suggestion by Carrie, who has the good taste to like Dead Can Dance.
I do most of my writing while listening to music, usually with headphones on so as not to irritate the rest of the universe (and to block it out).
The good thing about music is it stops me from procrastinating elsewhere. At least, that's the theory; sometimes we have system failure, but mostly it works.
If the room's silent and I'm tapping away, I might start wondering what people are saying on twitter and flip over there for a few minutes, or an hour, or two. Music locks up the Procrastination Region of my brain, which appears to constitute approx. 80% of my neurons, and keeps me typing in the right window.
My music selection is quite eclectic and changes daily. The one thing I can guarantee is I never listen to classical music while writing, which isn't to say I don't like classical. We have season tickets for the Brandenburg Orchestra. But classical doesn't have the same locking effect on the Procrastination Region.
There are core bands who always get slots. Beatles, Pink Floyd, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Fleetwood Mac, Enya, Loreena McKennitt.
I'm listening to fairly standard popular rock, with a heavy weighting towards Celtic/Folk and Etherial Darkwave.
Then there are a large number of bands who rotate through. Right now I have Ace of Bass, Toto, Alan Parsons Project, Alannah Myles, T'Pau, Extreme, Peter Gabriel, B52's, Pretenders, Heart, Blondie, Lily Allen, Boney M, The Veronicas, Sugababes, Miranda Sex Garden (mediaeval & darkwave), Garbage (band name, not my evaluation), Rogue Traders, Merril Bainbridge, Kevin Rudolf, Jackson Browne, Gwen Stefani, T-Rex, ELO, Cranberries, Ultravox, Visage, The Seekers, Flash and the Pan, Big Audio Dynamite, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Heather Nova, Tory Amos.
Sometimes the song will match beautifully. Once, while editing over and over a paragraph I just couldn't get right, and getting very frustrated with it, Fairground Attraction came on, singing, "It's got to beeee...P_E_R_F_E_C_T!" Thanks for the help, guys.
So the good news is music keeps me on the job. The bad news is, it affects the rhythm of what I'm writing. I know you know all good writing has a rhythm, and unlike music the rhythm of writing isn't constant. If I'm not careful, I end up writing a story that bounces in 4/4.
I fix that by playing different music for different scene types. It works!
Action scenes get heavy rock music. Especially fights.
Description is written to Celtic, Folk, and Darkwave. Description must not be written to rock or pop.
Dialogue gets either Celtic, Folk, Etherial Darkwave, or...silence. Every character speaks with his or her own rhythm and own speech patterns. It's really important I concentrate on a character's speech until I have them dialled in. The quieter it is, the more quickly I can hear them.
When Nico's thinking to himself, acting on his own, or arguing with Diotima, he gets Pop/Rock. The fact that Nico thinks to pop music is probably sad, but that's how it is. He's frequently surrounded by people with brains the size of a planet, such as his brother Socrates, his girlfriend Diotima and his boss Pericles, so a little light relief for his own brain cells doesn't hurt.
I can sing along and write at the same time. This is because my mouth is rarely connected to my brain.
Weirdly, I've discovered many normal readers can't hear the rhythm in a novel, but they respond to it.
FYI, this post was written to Rivers of Babylon (Boney M), Golden Brown (The Stranglers), Ebony Eyes (Bob Welch), Me Myself I (Joan Armatrading), Don't Call Me Baby (Madison Avenue), Rapture (Blondie), Funky Town (Boney M), Sunday Girl (Blondie), Midsummer Night Blues (Waldeck - great Austrian twenties band), Not Fair (Lily Allen - this song's hilarious), Lady Madonna (Beatles), She Came From Planet Claire (B52's), Another Day (McCartney), Poles Apart (Pink Floyd).