Tag Archives: Inspiration

Musical Inspiration

Sometimes when I write, I’ll use music to set the scene within my head. I’ll allow the music to enhance the mood and my words flow from it.

Several years ago I started this part of my writing process when I “won” my first NaNoWriMo. My novel was about a guy who goes into a place called “the void” where he turns from a normal, nothing special person, into a master of fighting. He’s the only one who can make things happen in the void so he’s welcomed with open arms.

The thing about it was, he was an alcoholic. He’d drink certain types of alcohol and find himself in different situations in the void. For example, when he drank moonshine, he’d end up as one of twelve hillbilly brothers. When he drank tequila, he found himself coming to the new world with Cortez. When he drank vodka, he was on a Russian expedition. He’s not aware of how he gets to those places till later on in the story, but the novel follows his trials and adventure in these various locales.

I used music heavily when I wrote the scenes of him in the void. When I wrote the hillbilly scenes, I created a playlist based off of the soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and it was perfect. The bluegrass and old country music set the tone in my mind which helped me feel the scenes so much more.

When I had him on the Russian expedition, I listened to a ton of Tchaikovsky, one of my favorite classical composers. Those sweeping Russian nationalistic pieces made those scenes feel alive in my mind.

The following year as I attempted (and won!) NaNoWriMo again, I wrote a horror novel. The story was about child sacrifice in a small town. It was a dark story where demons forced the sacrifices and had to be defeated. For those writing sessions, I listened to heavy doses of Slayer. Their dark music helped me set the tone in my work.

Lately I’ve not used that method to assist my writing, though on occasion I will turn on the music to help inspire my words. I find it helps to block outside distractions and create the right mood in my mind for the story I’m working on.

If you’ve read any of my “Author Spotlight” interviews this year, you’ll notice I ask that question of all my guests. I think because it’s been such a vital tool for me I wanted to see if it worked for others.

What about you? Do you use music to help with your writing or does is distract from your efforts? I’m genuinely curious to see if this is something others do or if I’m some kind of anomaly.

Writing Ideas

When you write and get stuck on a scene or stuck on a story idea, what do you do?

I’ve got a couple tricks I’ve found useful when I get in those predicaments.

My go-to method for story idea generating is to search random pictures online until I find something useful or inspiring. Normally I’d go to Flickr and start searching through the public photos. I’ve found the site to be excellent at discovering new and interesting photos.

My method then is to save the image in a folder on my computer and just sit and stare. I like to think long about what’s in the image, what could be happening, what did just happen, and more. Back when I used to release brand new flash fiction on the 15th of every month, that was my tried and true method for creating new stories. I’d also include the image in the story. If you search around on my blog long enough, you’ll eventually stumble on those.

old-book-2514411_960_720Another method I like to use to enhance my writing is to listen to music. Back when I was working on my first NaNoWriMo novel called “Master of the Drunken Fist,” my protagonist would drink various types of alcohol and go into another dimension based on the the type of alcohol he drank. For example, when he drank moonshine he ended up in a backwoods, rural setting. When he drank vodka he was on an expedition in Russia.

When it came time to write the scenes in that other dimension, I would listen to various types of music. When I did the moonshine scenes, I created a playlist on Pandora based off of the “O’ Brother Where Art Thou?” soundtrack. It was perfect for setting the mood. When I wrote the vodka scenes, I listened to Tchaikovsky non-stop.

I found the various types of music, like the alcohol my protagonist drank, transported me to a different world and helped me create scenes that were more alive and more true to the feeling I was trying to evoke.

I’ve known other authors who will do something similar. I know of an author who will search through random YouTube videos for songs to draw inspiration from. Like my random photos, they help him generate ideas for stories.

As with all writing, we come to our methods in different ways. I would never tell you to do it like I do because it might not be your thing. I can suggest you try what I do to see if it works, but I’m not gonna say my method is the only one you should use. What does matter is that you find your thing, whatever it is.

Do you have something different that works for you? Share in the comments so others can try your technique. Let’s share our methods so we can all learn together.