Thinking about listening

I have a guest post up at — The Top 10 Songs I Listened to While Writing Seraphina. It details my odd tendency to put songs on endless repeat and suck all the goodness out of them, like some sort of musical vampire.

I’m not sure how it’s possible, but I still love all those songs, even after the repetitions. You’d think they’d get old. Maybe they DO get old, and that’s what I like, treading those well-worn paths again and again. The familiarity. I have no idea. There is music I used to love that I’ve outgrown – most Beatles songs, for example, I get impatient with now – so that can happen. Other things I love even better with age. Is there rhyme or reason to any of it?

It bears thinking about. Can you use a specific piece of music to light up a specific part of your brain, and how is your written output different while under that influence? Because I’m sure I stop consciously listening to the music after a while; I have to, or I couldn’t be thinking about the words I need to write. It can be hard to maintain a strong feeling while thinking. Is music a way to keep that gate open, somehow, so there’s access to the feeling while I’m doing the problem-solving work writing requires?

No idea. But seriously, neurologists of the world, maybe y’all should get on that! I’ll be interested in knowing the results.


14 thoughts on “Thinking about listening

  1. I use the first movement of Shostakovich’s 2nd Piano Concerto to get me going in the mornings. Or I used to: I need to start doing that again; it really made a difference.

  2. I’m not neurologist but I totally agree with that. For me it’s like the music conjures images as if the whole thing were being played out like in a soundtrack to a film–or rather whatever novel I’m working on–and somewhere in there emerges a trigger and the floodgates open and words are unleashed. But that’s about the best analysis I can give.

    • LOL, right! It’s the experience of it that matters in the moment anyway, not whatever the science behind it is. I’m always interested in how my experience intersects with science, though. 🙂

  3. I’m not neurologist, but I totally agree. For me I’m listening to a piece of music like it’s part of the soundtrack to the book (depending on music piece choice, which I’m thus judicious about), and there’s always that one note or chord that triggers everything, conjures the one image and everything else falls into place, at least until I run out of steam and I have to stop and refuel the fires. But that’s about the best analysis I can come up with.

  4. Interestingly, for me Dave Matthews’ “Crush” is most associated with being pregnant with Ripley. Although it was a few tracks in that album that I gestated to. Not just that one.

  5. There is a similar visual effect, too. I occasionally change the font if I’m writing something that’s looking tedious. Funky fonts, or stiff ones, can inspire different word choices in me, and get me on the right track for whatever I’m writing. Never tried different colors but I bet that would work as well.

  6. I LOVE this! Especially since Seraphina deals so beautifully with music! I wish I’d found your blog earlier – I reviewed Seraphina on our blog today, but this music, and reading about your process, has really added to my appreciation!

    For example, you mentioned how it’s aimed at teens. I love that you didn’t write down to your reader. It reminded me of Madeline L’Engle that way, come to think of it!

  7. Okay, somehow, while looking for some fanart for ‘Seraphina’ to inspire me to get my backside in gear and write, I stumbled across this article and your song list in the link.

    Nothing in the list I’d listen to unless I was looking for something new,-meaning not at the minute,- but, the idea of using music to focus on a particular mood for a scene is something I’m going to try for myself.

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