Writing and Music

I make it a person mission to write every day of the work week- it’s the only way I can justify to myself the fact that I don’t have a real, grown up job.  (Despite his reassurance, I still worry sometimes that Kevin might resent me for this freedom.  Luckily, he’s amazingly supportive.)

image from google
My husband, basically

Some days writing is easier than others.  Even if you love what you’re doing there will be days where you just don’t want to do it, right?  To help keep myself on track I’ve taken to putting on giant headphones and listening to music while I work.  However, what music keeps me motivated seems to change from day to day.  Sometimes I’ll work seamlessly for hours to Disney soundtracks, only to be thoroughly distracted by the familiar lyrics the next day.  Other times I’ll listen to soundtracks that don’t have words for the inspiring emotions they evoke, but eventually find them not distracting enough because they don’t have lyrics.

At first I dealt with the problem by making playlist after playlist in iTunes.  It got to a point where they stopped having proper names because I couldn’t define exactly what I wanted from them anymore.  I started off listening to ‘Wrock’ (that’s wizard rock, or music based on Harry Potter, for those of you who don’t know) and ‘Wordless Soundtracks’ and ended up with ‘On-the-Go’ 1, 2, and 3.  It was ridiculous.

That’s why I was so excited when I discovered the website 8tracks.

I’m not entirely sure how I found it- I think a friend might have shared a playlist on a social media site- but it was the highlight of my day.  You just put a word describing what you’re looking for into the search bar and it pulls up dozens of playlists that have been tagged with that descriptor.  If you want to narrow it down still further, you can.

Despite being a millennial I’m not nearly as tech-savvy as I ought to be, so I don’t use half of the website’s functions.  I do know that once you have a profile you can like playlists, favorite songs, and build collections of playlists.  (If you really like a song, they’ll tell you where you buy it.)  Since all the playlists are made by users I assume you can make and upload your own as well but I haven’t tried that out.  Yet.

There are a few restrictions- you can’t listen to a playlist in the same order, you can’t skip more than three songs an hour- but since they have no bearing on my usage I’m not bothered by them.  As a whole, I think this website is amazing.

Anyone out there have another tip for how to keep your mind on track?  Are any of you on 8tracks?  If so, let’s be friends- I’m BesstheKraken!

Writing Advice

Ever since I was in middle school I’ve devoured writing advice.  Whenever I came across an interview with an author in my mom’s newspaper or online (these were the early days of laptops in schools and nothing was locked down) I hunted for that all-important question, “What advice would you give to young writers?”

What the authors said, of course, was wildly contradictory.  If one author said to write in the mornings, before you expended creative energy on anything else, another would counter that you should write only late at night, after the house has gone to bed and the world is your oyster.  Where one author would insist that writing straight from ‘once up on a time’ to ‘the end,’ another would encourage readers to write their favorite scenes first and then string them together.

Whenever I saw recommendations that meshed with my own style, I felt vindicated.  I was doing it right!  If the suggestions ran counter to my preferences, I immediately wrote them off as nonsense.

After spending a few years trying my hand at responsible adulthood, I’m back at writing.  Among the many other attributes that maturity (heh) brings, I’ve come to the realization that none of the advice I absorbed, copied, and taped to my bedroom walls actually matters.  More accurately, it’s all sprinkles.  Things like “Never use a long word where a short word will do” work stupendously for that particular author (George Orwell) but would absolutely sink someone else (like Faulkner).

I’ve realized that there is only one genuinely universal truth about writing.

Writers write.

Great, right?  Whatever their method, the only thing that ever single writer in the world has in common is that they put pen to paper.  Or fingers to keys.  Or voice to recorder.  However they do it.

Talking about your genius idea isn’t writing.  Endless research isn’t it either.  If you’re not writing, then you’re not a writer.

If I’m not writing, then I’m not a writer.  So that’s what I’m going to do.  And one day, hopefully, I’ll be able to turn ‘writer’ into ‘author.’