Some writers create in silence. Not me. Most of the time, when I’m at my computer, I have a CD playing in the background. It keeps me flowing and helps me focus. Sometimes the right music can enhance a mood or heighten the emotion in a scene—especially if it’s a love scene.
When it comes to music, I enjoy everything from rock & roll to Rachmaninoff. A peek at my CD collection would leave you shaking your head. I have a lot of ethnic music, especially African and Middle Eastern. These I can’t play when I’m writing because they make me want to get up and dance. But they make great energizers when I need to clean the house.
Show tunes are great energizers, too. My favorites are “Chicago” and “Man of La Mancha.” But trying to write with words going on makes me crazy, so I save those for car music. My other car music includes The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Firewater, a new artist my daughter turned me onto. I also have Edith Piaf and Billie Holladay and have resolved to buy some Country Western albums just to balance things out.
My classical music collection works nicely for writing—soothing music like classical guitar is nice when I can’t sit still. But my favorite writing music is movie sound tracks. I tend to pick a sound track that fits my story and play it over and over and over (hey, I live alone, I can do this). When I wrote my African book, MACKENNA’S PROMISE, I did the whole thing to the score from “Out of Africa.”
There are more Western sound tracks on my shelf than anything else. My favorite movie composer is Ennio Morricone. He wrote all those catchy tunes from the Clint Eastwood westerns like “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and “A Fistful of Dollars.” Remember those? You would if you heard them. They’re a lot of fun, but Morricone wrote other sound tracks that are just breathtaking. The one from “Once Upon a Time in the West” almost brings tears to my eyes. I used another of his scores, “Once Upon a Time in America”, which has a more modern sound, to write my early 1900s book, ON THE WINGS OF LOVE.
How about you? Those of you who write, does music help or distract you? What works best? And all of you, what, if anything, is playing in the background of your lives?