Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Music As Inspiration

This is another writing tip that I've come across recently, but found that I've used it a lot without realizing what was happening.

I love genre. Going into a book store back when I frequented one weekly, sometimes a few days a week, I absolutely loved being able to walk to the horror section, or the computer technology section, and find a handful of books related to what I was interested in. Just recently I've started exploring some romances and also a few science fiction/dystopian novels. They all work so well within their defined genres - but they also surprise me when those genres are stretched and combined by gifted writers who love to play.

My first draft of the manuscript has thirty pages left to work through, and then I start the meticulous task of adjusting each page in Scrivener to reflect my notes. Once that's done, I'm sending out the completed piece for feedback, which will then lead to a final draft before publication. It's going to be hard work - and it has been mentally exhausting (I took a break from serious work last night to recharge, re-watching an episode of American Horror Story, season one!) but, I know that in the end it will be worth it. Even if this book isn't perfection, I hope it's entertaining, and I definitely learned a ton about story structure and revisions with this one.

However, as I near the ending of one project, my first ever completed novel, I am faced with a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I am thrilled that I've seen something through to the end. Just ask my family and friends how often I finish something of this scope, and they can count them on one hand! On the other hand, I am now free to work on something else. I have almost finished plotting out a sequel to my first manuscript, which was the plan from the start, but I am also curious to see if I can try something new in between that will speed up my writing process. I keep reading blog posts about fellow authors who finish a rough draft in three months, and darn it, I want to be like that! The ideas are there, but how do I nurture them into fleshed-out novels, or even novellas?

On the commute to work this morning I put in the fantastic, atmospheric, and chilling soundtrack to the film Insidious, by Joseph Bishara, and found my imagination going wild with a new idea I've come up with for a horror novel. This idea came to me a few weeks back and I jotted it down in a notebook, but was determined not to let it take over my attention before I got the second draft of my manuscript to my wonderful beta readers (who I hope are harsh on me so that I can really see what's not working, or what needs to be beefed up). Wouldn't you know that just listening to this creepy music in the car this morning got my brain working, and the characters leaped out at me - their struggles with the paranormal, their family situation, and the protagonist becoming clearer and more vibrant with every passing mile on the road.

If you are a writer like me and are searching for inspiration to nurture that idea in your mind, give listening to some genre-specific music a shot while you lull yourself into a meditative state. I find that driving is usually the sweet spot for me because I'm focused, but my creative brain isn't occupied. That leaves the door open for all sorts of wonderful revelations. If you're writing a young adult novel, give the top forty chart a shot. You might be surprised.

I don't listen to music while I actually write anything, but just getting the creative juices flowing is a huge head start for when I get to the blank page and start off sprinting. I think I might give that horror story more of a shot and see how quickly I can complete a draft when the going is good. Maybe a little distance from my other characters is what I need for a month or two before I seriously begin telling the second chapter in their story. We'll see!