Thursday’s Children: Music

This weekend was I invited to join a blog hop called Thursday’s Children where writers share the things that inspire them. I love this idea and am excited to participate so here is my first contribution. The first thing that jumps into my head where I hear the question: “What inspires you when you write?”

Music.

The very first thing that jumps into my head about what inspires me has to be music. Stories are inspired by a multitude of things – other books, films, the news, all sorts but when it comes to actually writing things down it has to be said that music really gets me going.

A lot of people think I’m very odd because I thoroughly enjoy long car or bus journeys. I don’t talk to anyone else unless they speak to me first and even then I will generally work to make the conversation short. I don’t read. I don’t play car games. What I do is put my headphones in my ears and stare contentedly out of the window. And that is me set for the next several hours. I love music and travelling feels like one of the few times when I can completely submerge myself in it without feeling guilty for not doing anything else. And as I look out of the window, I don’t really see anything that is going past. What I see are scenes inside my head, scenes whose pace and emotion are influenced by whichever song is currently on.

Music has such a strong ability to invoke emotion. I adore the way it can make your back tingle and your stomach squirm. So many of my most beloved scenes have been written after being imagined during such a journey. Once I get home, I’ll put that track back on and find myself back in that moment, back within that rush of feeling and the words just come pouring out. The thoughts come faster than I can type them.

It can be any music as well. I have quite a diverse taste and my playlists tend to be very “let’s take all of these genres and mix ’em about a bit!” Different genres allow for different emotions, different types of scenes, even different characters. For instance, I’ll take an example from each of my two favourite novelling albums at the moment – John Powell’s How To Train Your Dragon Soundtrack and Devin Townsend Project’s Epicloud.

John Powell’s Forbidden Friendship evokes a strong sense of peace and joy in me. It is a song I listen to and stresses seem to fall away. When I hear it, I can imagine characters coming together to find a closeness they never thought could be there before. I can imagine a character finding a new found strength or acceptance within themselves. When I hear it, I can imagine a sense of blissful understanding, a character having an epiphany. As I listen to it now, I can’t help but close my eyes and sway with it, smiling as I do so. I listen and tense as it builds up and up until that final gentle peak leading onto a harmonious and soothing end, bringing to my characters some sort of resolution.

Devin Townsend Project’s Kingdom strikes quite a different chord but the emotional and inspirational response is just as strong. The music itself is hard and fast and oh so easy to work yourself up with. Great action, battle, a chase, it’s all already forming in my head. There is desperation here. A struggle. A need. And if that wasn’t enough, at around forty five seconds in Devin Townsend’s voice bursts into the song with such force and vigor that I swear I stop breathing for a moment each time it happens. That right there is a voice that makes every hair on my body stand on end. It makes my stomach knot. It makes me want to instantly stand up, clenching my fist as I sing along badly and off key. And then, once I’m hooked, that’s me for the next five minutes as characters swarm about my head in great peril or smashing victory. And while my poor characters might get dragged through hell and back in this time, whatever just happened to them, it can’t be described as anything less than thrilling.

So there you have it, one of the things that inspires me the most. I hope I didn’t ramble too much, I was desperately trying not to. I now feel the need to go and listen to some amazing music. Also, you should follow the link and check out the other Thursday’s Children bloggers. Do it.

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26 responses to “Thursday’s Children: Music

  1. So glad to have you join us this week! Music is a wonderful inspiration – sound bypasses all the “words” and gets right to the core of emotion. Then we get to rewrite the lyrics in the form of our story 🙂

    • Glad to be here! And I agree so much. With music I really love, I can feel it in my stomach (as odd as that sounds). It’s just like airborne inspiration to me.

    • Thanks! I always find I end up with a set of songs that I feel are strongly linked with a piece I’ve worked on. Are these soundtracks you’ve made yourself or are they made of songs you found particularly relevant to the story as you wrote?

  2. It’s great that music inspires you so much. I have to say I find it too distracting to listen to music whilst writing. But once when I was at university I was listening to Dido’s song ‘My Lover’s Gone’ whilst reading and attempting to write an essay on ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by the Romantic poet Coleridge. I found it helpful and so atmospheric. The song fitted the poem perfectly. So I do understand what you mean – songs can fit our work as writers and inspire us.

    • I totally understand. I think that’s one of the great things about writing – it’s so personal! There’s no right or wrong way to do it. It is in no way everyone’s cup of tea but, for me, music is all a part of writing.

  3. I’m so with you about long car rides and music…music is just incredible, it’s an entire language that we’re somehow born understanding (I think…?)
    Two of my favorite composers are Alexandre Desplat and John Williams, love writing to their music!!

    This was an awesome post, please keep em coming : )

  4. Great to have you with us! Hope you find some new inspiration from all the posts each week.

    Music is definitely one of the best. It creates a theatre of the mind and really gets the juices flowing. And yeah — those really long bus rides! I usually default to reading something, but I guess it could be a great time to let my mind go free as well. Imagine some things.

    Hope to see you back next week.

    • Thank you! I might not manage every week but I plan to try and make it a habit. I’ll definitely be checking out everyone’s blogs each week. So many fantastic posts!

  5. I know exactly what you mean about feeling the song in your stomach. For me, it doesn’t happen with every song, but when it does, it’s powerful! So glad you joined us! 🙂

  6. I’ll reiterate the welcome! I love long car trips too, I love to turn the music up and zone out. My current WIP was born out of one very long car trip listening to Brian Adams. Your examples were great too.

  7. I don’t listen to music when I write, but driving and listening to music is one of my best creative times. I love listening to songs sung in languages I don’t understand, then I can focus on the emotion better.

    • I know what you mean, a lot of my favourite novelling writing is is languages I don’t understand (mostly German and Finnish) or purely instrumental. It is easier to avoid being distracted by it if I’m feeling restless.

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