music as a manufactured writing space

by Shannon

A lot of people talk about writing environments. They have favorite desks and chairs and levels of light and times of day. “I can’t write unless I’m alone in my room.” “I can only write in the dark.” “I can’t have anything on my desk.” “I create a nest of clutter.” “Utter silence.”

I don’t quite work that way. Certainly I have preferred locations. As we speak, I’m typing this from my favorite armchair, by the windowsill in the middle of my family room. I like it because it’s big, easy to curl up in, the windowsill is convenient for my coffee mug, and the arm is a good height for my laptop. But it’s not essential.

What matters most to me is the feeling. In order to live in a scene I need to feel like I live in it. I need the somber exhaustion of the rain my characters feel, the aching, twisting feeling of their regret in my gut, their pang of fear, their thrill of happiness. And the great thing is that, unlike the specific conditions of a particular room, this feeling can be manufactured anywhere.

Writing Soundtracks are a big thing for me. Any project I work on has a short list of songs I use to get into the proper mindset. Molly Worthington started with Of Monsters and Men, specifically their songs King and Lionheart and Mountain Sound. The Asphalt Messiah is best suited by The XX. Each of these is associated for me with the particular ‘feel’ of a story and the world it lives in. I can drown out the world around me with one of these songs on repeat and fall straight into the right mindset.

So, the following are a few songs I have been using lately to ‘get in the mood’:

What are your writing tunes? Share them with me!