On more than one occasion, Pot has said that she could get all of her plots from song lyrics. She often finds inspiration there, and when she’s stuck, she often blames it on the lack of a decent playlist for a particular WIP. I’ve been on a crusade the last year or so to introduce her to all the excellent music that came out after the 80s–all the fabulous rock in particular. Breaking Benjamin, Stone Sour, Nickelback, Alterbridge, Seether. Hey, I married a rock musician, so he keeps me up to date on this stuff. I’ll often hear lyrics and think of a story about them. More often, I think “oh I should send that to Pot to add to the Haven playlist.”
I very rarely actually solve any of my own plot issues with lyrics. I am even willing to the fact that half the time I have no idea what the lyrics are to stuff. It’s the actual music I pay attention to when I listen. Which probably accounts for why more than half my massive collection of CDs is composed of instrumental classical, jazz, and movie scores. I adore movie scores. Why? Well, because for me, music is all about mood. My husband is constantly shaking his head over the fact that he’ll play something for me one day and I hate it, then I’ll hear it on another day, in a different mood, and I’ll love it. Not only is my opinion of a piece very influenced by my own mood, but I also turn to music to evoke a particular mood. And it’s almost always an instrumental.
Why? Well I suppose it has a lot to do with the fact that I get distracted by the words. I am one of those people who likes to have some kind of music going all the time. In the background at work, at home (I prefer this to the TV, though usually when DH is home, the TV wins), and when I’m studying or writing. Sometimes it’s to soothe the savage beast. You can take a quick scan of my Pandora radio stations and tell which ones I listen to at work. There are all these mellow mood sort of stations with lots of soothing strings. I’m particularly fond of cello. I use these to counteract the effects my boss tends to have on me. Um, stressed much? Yeah. I’d rather lose myself in the strains of a score by Dario Marianelli or Ennio Morricone than lose my temper.
But sometimes I know I’m going for a particular emotion in a scene, that I need to evoke a certain feeling in the reader. I turn to music then too because for me, instrumental music is feeling. It gets in my blood, in my head. And it lacks lyrics to distract from the story that I am telling. Does this actually improve the quality of the scene? No idea. But it does seem to help put me in the proper frame of mind to write it.
What about the rest of you? If you listen to music when you write, do you prefer stuff with lyrics or without?