Friday, July 16, 2010

I write with music

Today I was having difficulty again with a section of my script that's supposed to be pretty funny and at the same time tense. One of those Hey put your gun down no YOU put your gun down no you first! kind of things. I was just staring at the screen, drawing a blank. I just wasn't in the mood for tense comedy.

Then the cat crawled into my lap so I had to pet him for like 15 minutes. You know how that is.

Then I realized I had my music set to "Romantic." I have three different music lists that I cycle through while I write: Romantic, Action, and Writing Music. Writing Music is my default setting, with music that's at a sort of natural pace and won't distract me. Action is lots of fast pace tunes that make me want to run and punch stuff. And romantic music is, well, romantic stuff.

I was listening the Romantic list today because I had just finished a scene where my hot male lead had a moment with my hot female lead, but forgot to switch it over. As soon as I switched back to Writing Music, it's like I pushed a button on my muse. Suddenly I was able to be all funny and whatever.

So another day where I started out sucking and ended up not sucking. Thanks to the ITunes this time.

I'm not sure I can write without music anymore. How about you? You write with music?


  1. I'm not sure I can write without music anymore. How about you? You write with music?

    I write to whatever is playing at Starbucks. I have no control over it.

    That said, I think it's a mistake to talk about not being able to write without some specific thing (music, your special pen, quiet apartment, a cigarette, everything on your desk just so). I used to do that, but my life conspired to take all those necessary things away from me one at a time.

    Music may be a useful tool, but if it becomes something you can't do without, it's a crutch. You can move faster without them.

  2. I guess if the day comes when music no longer exists, I'll adapt.

  3. I'm not a writer -- I'm mostly just a pain in the ass.

    My girlfriend is a writer who writes and listens to those random cable music channels on Time Warner. I noticed there was no rhyme or reason to the selected channels meaning it could be 1970s, show tunes or death metal. I asked and she said it didn't matter what the music was because if she could hear it she wasn't where she needed to be.

  4. That's an interesting perspective. That's always so interesting to me, how different people work with such different auditory input.

  5. Anonymous8:11 PM

    I'm both amazed and impressed by people who write with music or television in the background. I'm from the absolute silence, no distractions whatsoever school (even the hum of an air-conditioner annoys me). My ideal environment would be a sound proof basement with no windows and perfect climate control. I've tried to write with music and had no success. Have you tried utter silence? Did it have any impact? I find that it calms me and enhances my concentration.

  6. I hate writing in silence. Hate. It makes me feel incomplete, like something's missing.

    Weird. I also know a guy who watches TV while he writes, which is equally baffling to me.

  7. Anonymous11:24 AM

    51 pages into your new script. If music is your fuel, those are some major mpg! ;-)

  8. I find when writing hot steamy romantic scenes, it helps me to listen to Benny Hill music. It really keeps me in the mood... hehe.

    That may or may not be true.

  9. I could not write without music. Even back when I was 17 and taking my first attempts at screenplays instead of my working on my A-levels in school, I had my cassette walkman going (and giant first Minidisc player as well!)

    What I'll generally do now is make up a massive playlist of songs and score tracks that embody the feeling I want the script to have, and stick that on random. Sometimes I'll need one specific song on repeat to help me nail scenes - usually the more emotional ones. I'm making a movie this summer and one scene required about 20 plays of Snow Patrol's Signal Fire to get me through the first draft (yes, I know it was written for Spider-Man 3, but I've successfully managed to forget that whole two hours and twenty minutes of my life)

    Another death scene I wrote needed the main theme from Carrie played over and over. No idea why that one popped into my mind, but it worked well. Without music, I could probably still write, but it wouldn't be as fun, and it would go a hell of a lot slower.

  10. I also cannot write in silence, but love writing in public places, especially a friend's café, inspired by David Mamet's Writing in Restaurants (just idea in the title, not the actual content of the essay/book).

    When I sometimes write on the subway during my daily commute, I listen to music (film scores, anything with words would distract me too much) but mostly to drown out the inane conversations of my fellow commuters.

  11. I find more people need sound - be it other people, music, TV, or all of them.

    When I worked in restaurants, I'd get to work and start prepping in silence. One of my cooks would arrive and stop still in the middle of the kitchen and ask if the radio was broken. I'd say, no, just didn't think of turning it on. They thought it was totally bizarre behavior on my part.

    I prefer to write late at night, when most people are asleep, with nothing other than the ambient sounds of the room. Sometimes, if I'm having trouble feeling a scene or character, I'll pick some music - but can rarely actually write until I turn it off. If there is music on, or any other sounds or people - I simply have to block them out.

    When I do, I can be quite intense about my focus, and it takes a shake of my shoulder to rouse me.

  12. Anonymous3:41 PM

    Contemporary Jazz, pure and simple. It just gets my creative juices flowing. Sometimes classical. You can always write with Mozart playing. But no vocals. That's too distracting. And I never write with the TV on. I guess I am pretty routine-oriented.


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