The Writing Zone: Stage 9 - Inspiration from Music
As I wrote this very post, the intense thumping and deep bass of fast-paced music played in my ears via a pair of isolation headphones, ensuring that nothing but the music could be heard by me.
But at the same time, many individuals are hearing this music with me. All of them are characters in places around fictitious worlds that do not yet exist on paper but have lives all their own in my mind, whether I know it or not.
For me, an incredible tap of inspiration is music. From something as fast-paced and intense - and yet filled with nostalgia - as the main theme for Pac-Man CE 2 to more contemporary music by Imagine Dragons, I've always found an intimate connection between the worlds that I create and the sounds that represent various aspects of them.
Why associate music at all to one's written work?
I have a better question for you: Why not?
- Music can help define your book for your readers.
- We've all seen at least one movie or played a video game where its theme song stuck in your mind long after its conclusion. Similarly, you can use music to help others get a sense, before even turning to the first page, of what to expect when they dive into your novel.
- Music related to your characters or major scenes can help you get into the writing zone.
- It's not just for your reader's benefit. During the year when I wrote my first draft for my book, I found that associating various tracks to various moments in my book - both written and unwritten - played a role in my slipping into that world. I used Spotify to organize my book soundtrack, allowing me to, in a way, listen to portions of my book while I drove my daughter to and from school. Though I wasn't writing, the music elicited emotions and thoughts in my mind that, once I got in front of my computer to write, allowed me to start translating my flowing thoughts into words immediately.
Now to be clear, I'm not talking about adding a literal soundtrack to your book, though there is an audience for such an experience (check out Booktrack which sells ebooks and audiobooks with soundtracks integrated with the readings). I personally love to read in silence, allowing my mind to generate all the experiences that the book in front of read wants to generate for my senses. The eleven songs that I selected for my first novel are played whenever I needed to give myself a boost of inspiration, or - now that I've finished the draft and am eyeballs-deep in editing - a reminder of the kind of emotions I want others to feel when reading various scenes.
I believe that, like any medium where one willingly enters a fictional world and experiences it vicariously, books should - and can benefit - from being associated with music. It is just another way for your readers to experience your creations - and to be reminded of said experience long after they got off the ride.
Do you find music and books to be united as much as music and movies, or music and video games?