Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I've Got a Theory: Music and Pictures

I've read a LOT of blog posts about music and how it affects writing. How songs can inspire plot lines. How music from a certain band can inspire the whole mood of a book.
How having a playlist for the book and songs for specific scenes can instantly transport you to the mind frame you need to be in to write. How some people map out their entire book through songs.

There's even a cool website called Stereomood where you can select an emotion, and it will play music to help you feel that emotion.

Logically, I GET IT. It makes perfect sense. It sounds like a fabulous way of writing! I read those posts, and want to map out my book in song. I wonder why I haven't ever done it before.

Then I finally realized why I never do that. It just plain doesn't work for me. I don't listen to music when I write. For every scene I write, there is not a song tied to it. I don't have a band that inspires my MS. Music does not play a huge part in writing for me.

Assuming I'm not the only one, I came up with a theory.

Strong audio people are crazy inspired by music; 
strong visual people are crazy inspired by images.

I have read a LOT of blog posts about images, too. Some of us search through picture after picture of actors to find one that represents our MC before we even start writing.

Some of us find pictures of our setting, and other times the setting pictures reside only in our heads, because there doesn't exist a picture that could do it justice, and we lack the drawing/painting skills to put the image to paper.

Some of us draw their characters. (Not me, but I am totally jealous of those who have the skill.)

Some of us draw out a scene, placing everyone where they should be, no matter how unprofessional the scratches on paper are.

Some of us map out our book with images-- either drawn or by finding images through Google, making a storyboard of sorts.

Sometimes an image of scenery can spawn an idea for an entire book.

When I work through my story, I think it would go so much better if I could just get a really long piece of paper and visually plot out the book! I haven't quite figured out the perfect way to do it, but when I do, it will be epic. And when I find my epic method, I'll be sure to share with all my fellow visually-inspired writers. (If you've already figured this out, you'll share your secret with me, right?)

So there's my theory. Either we're strongly inspired by what we hear, or we're strongly inspired by what we see. Or possibly we're somewhere near the middle and use a combination of the two. Where do you stand?


Kelley Lynn said...

Ooo, I never thought about it this way. I know I fall into the audio boat... for sure. But I am also a singer so that makes sense.

However when I see that pic at the end of your post I get inspired too. (I might just use that scene if you're not... ;))

Maybe I fall somewhere in the middle?

BECKY said...

I love music, but hardly ever actually write while listening...unless it's soft, instrumental. Otherwise, I'd be dancing in my seat and not concentrating AT ALL! But, I also love pictures, too....so I guess I'm somewhere to the music side of the middle!

Abby Fowers said...

This is a very good theory. I am diggin' it. I haven't not used music to write to, although I can find inspiration from songs when I listen to them. I think I am more of a visual person, but I do want to experiment with music. I hadn't thought about all of this, so I love this post.

Ozzland said...

I'd have to say i'm in the middle, I feel I really use the visual side but I almost always "need" music in the background to focus an idea. The reason for the music for me is to make kind of a barrier between the noise in my head and what I am trying to get out. With out the music I just have to many ideas trying to be first and tend to always get the "Squirrel" problem any time something isn't visually where I want it.

DRC said...

I'm definitely an audio person. I always have music on. My own collection ranges from classical to heavy metal. I have something for every mood, and it's always on when I'm writing. At the moment I'm listening to film scores - especially Hans Zimmer and Rachel Portman.

However, I have been guilty of looking for visual imspiration too. I've even gone through and found my dream team if my novel ever makes it to the big screen (dreaming is ok, isn't it?) I have Emily Blunt and Jake Gyllenhaal :D So maybe this puts me somewhere inbetween too.

Kristine said...

So... not being a writer I don't know my answer completely. Music REALLY inspires me, but when I listen to music while I try to write things (a letter, a paper, and the like) I usually end up distracted and daydreaming instead. My daydreaming is a result of whatever I am listening to. Images do make me think about what's going on around it, so maybe that's what I am.

Ruth Josse said...

I love this theory! I find myself somewhere in the middle. Or I use each for different things. Music to inspire emotion and images to inspire the vision.

Jenny S. Morris said...

Even though I talk about music for inspiration on my blog a lot, I am in the middle. I don't listen to music while I'm writing unless I'm trying to drawn out kids screaming. I can be writing a scene and think it should be one way, then a song comes on and I hear the emotion that their feeling and I know what my character is feeling, and it changes the scene completely. I tend to use visual help when I am creating a character or an action sequence.

Carrie Butler said...

I'm definitely in the middle. I've always had an affinity for the arts, dabbling in things both visual and musical. Thank God I don't have to pull inspiration from math! ;) Great post today!

Jessie Humphries said...

Im with you Pegs. Music doest spark my muse. In fact, I feel like it distracts me as I write. I can listen to it before or after, but not during. My pea size brain cant handle it.

Leigh Ann said...

Oooh, Peggy, you totally hit on something! I'm obsessed with nailing the "soundtrack" for each book. I just "found" the "title song" for this book and it's definitely what I'm crediting for hitting my stride today. Almost 2K written amidst kids, house, meals and errands - wheeee!

linda said...

Hehe I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't relate to writing with a song in mind for every character or scene! So that probably places me more on the visual side, but I think emotion would be the strongest inspiration for me, no matter what triggers it.

Lan said...

I think I'm a bit of both actually! I like having music on in the background sometimes whilst I write but I tend to get so caught up in the song that I just sit there listening to it and ignore my writing. I find the cinema to be a great place to daydream and always come out of a movie super inspired to keep writing my novel. I agree with Linda, anything that evokes some kind of emotional response usually gets me going :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Kelley-- I guessed you'd be inspired by music! And feel free to use it. :)

Becky-- Haha! I guess it's pretty hard to type while you're dancing!

Abby-- I guess I sometimes get inspired by listening to songs, too. Just as long as it's not WHILE I'm working.

Ozzland-- I love the thought that the music makes a barrier between the noise in your head and what you're trying to get out! I had never thought of it that way.

DRC-- Dreaming is TOTALLY okay. :) And I love film scores!

Kristine-- I understand totally! Distracted and daydreaming...

Ruth-- Ahh! Music to inspire emotion and images to inspire the vision! I love it. So true.

Jenny-- I'll admit: Sometimes when my whole family is in the room while I write and I can't seem to drown out all the talking, I use music, too. I guess then it's only one distracting thing instead of four. ;)

Carrie-- Oh, come on! Math is the most inspiring thing EVER!!

Jessie-- I'm right there with you.

Leigh Ann-- That's so exciting! Ah, now see? I'm a little jealous and want to go out and find the title track for mine. Congrats on getting that much written!

Linda-- I'm glad I'm not the only one, too! And I think you're totally right about emotion.

Lan-- I find a huge amount of inspiration from movies, too! Maybe because it combines the music and the visual. :)

BECKY said...

P.S. I forgot to mention that about a year ago, I read somewhere that having a "starter song" is really good for our writing. If we pick ONE song that somehow really moves us in a certain way...you know...brings back memories or goose-bumps....then we should listen to only that song every time we sit down to write. After so many times, our brain will know it's time to write!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Wow! That might be the single coolest thing I have ever heard about using music when writing. I think I can really use that! Thank you!!

Kaylee Baldwin said...

Great post! I think I am inspired more by what I hear. I don't have a song for every scene, but I will a lot of times have a song that fits the tone of my entire book and I'll listen to it if I get blocked. For some reason it always helps me to get back on track.

Leah said...

I definitely lean towards music when I'm writing.

There are certain songs that I always listen to when writing emotionally jarring scenes that have a lot of rage or tears. A combination of sounds, lyrics, and memories make for some charged scenes.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Kaylee-- I love that music can get you right back on track like that!

Leah-- It's so true! Even for me, music can be so powerful emotionally!