I read an article recently about someone who thought that having music playing while she wrote would help her concentration and productivity.
On the face of it, it would seem to make sense. You’re writing a creepy, suspenseful scene – a little Bach fugue is just the thing . Or Thriller, if your tastes run towards pop.
You could play something Dmitri Tiomkin-esque if you’re writing a western. Hey, it worked for Kathleen Turner’s character in Romancing the Stone. (Note to self: a future blog about writers in movies would be fun.)
If you’re writing a romantic moment between the hero and heroine you could look for a love song. I’m sure someone must have written one at some time…
Anyway, in the article, the writer spent ages loading up her i-Pod with what she thought was appropriate songs. I’ve been puzzling over this and wondering what would fit the bill. There must be a few songs that speak either directly or indirectly to the heart of the writer. Here are my choices. I hope you’ll suggest a few of your own, too.
Paperback Writer – the Beatles. The daddy of all writers’ tunes. ‘It took me years to write it won’t you take a look..?’ Oh God, yes.
Every Day I Write the Book – Elvis Costello. ‘…Between a lover and a fighter with my pen and my electric typewriter…’ And somehow, given that it’s Elvis, you really believe he’s working on that novel. Every day.
When I Write the Book – Nick Lowe ‘The pain will be written on every page in tears…’ See. Nick knows.
Dancing in the Dark – Bruce Springsteen ‘I’m sick of sitting round here tryin’ to write this book…’ Nope. Can’t relate at all.
Writer’s Block – Just Jack (er, perhaps not the mood we’re going for…)
Words – The Bee Gees. ‘It’s only words and words are all I have to steal your heart away.’ Sniff.
Tower of Song – Leonard Cohen. ‘I was born like this, I had no choice, I was born with the gift of a golden voice…’ You may argue it’s more about living than about writing. Shame on you. Don’t you know they’re the same thing?
Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield. ‘Drench yourself in words unspoken…’ She has a way with words, does Natasha.
Storybook Story – Mark Knopfler. ‘My love is like a storybook story.’ OK, it’s not strictly speaking about writing, but who doesn’t love Mark K? And it’s the theme from The Princess Bride, written by one of my all-time favourite writers, William Goldman.
Move On – Stephen Sondheim. ‘I want to find how to get through, through to something new. Something of my own…’ I know, it’s about visual art rather than writing, but art is art and the song speaks to all of us. It tells us to stop worrying what others say about the things we create and just keep moving on. This song is my anthem.