Even my cat loves music!
Like writing, music is a big part of my life. I am married to a musician, and that means plenty of song, heaps of sound, and loads of (real) rock band. I have consequently become a “drummer-in-training” for accompaniment purposes. Yes, my (writing) life is a melodious one.
When it comes to writing, there is always music playing in the background (in some form or another), and I’d probably be lost without it. As I write this, I am listening to Arcade Fire (The Suburbs), their “sprawling but intimate new album.” Some other faves from the soundtrack to my writing life, are: MGMT, Weezer, The Cardigans, and (forgive me for this), Vinyl 95.3.
According to research from the University of California, listening to music creates new neural pathways in our brains that stimulate creativity. Music can train the brain for higher forms of thinking (bonus!). For me, music definitely inspires and sets a mood. It can also unleash writer’s block, relax the brain, jump-start a session, and infuse fiction with rich emotion. Music might just be my perfect muse.
How to use music as part of your writing practice:
- Claim a starting song: Okay, this is vaguely similar to Pavlov’s famous experiments with dogs. Sound the bell. Play your song—every time you sit down to write. Consider Aerosmith’s Back In The Saddle Again.
- Reflect the time period: Connect with your characters in every way possible. Are you chronicling the 1980s disco period? If so, you should, like, totally fill your writing brain with M-a-d-o-n-n-a.
- Set the mood: Play music that reflects what you’re writing. If it’s action, how about some Smashing Pumpkins, Muse, or even Guiseppe Verdi’s, Stiffelio.
- Keep it light: If this is all too much for you, give Mozart or Vivaldi a try for background music. Higher brain function will be yours.
- Silence is golden: Use your starting song to get going, and then turn it off.
I. Love. Music. I am always surprised how quickly my brain responds to music. Give it a try. Do it often and be consistent; consistency is, after all, the age-old practice of successful writers.
What is YOUR music to write by?
Imagine a place that is close to everything yet away from it all. A place bordered by the Niagara Escarpment, the Royal Botanical Gardens and acres of lush farmland. This is where we live. We are situated just close enough to blow kisses to city folk from our front porch—yet far enough away to wish upon a star.
We are a neighbourhood of thirty-or-so homes with our very own distinctive sense of place in the urban collective memory. We shop at the farm across the street, even if Tim Hortons is only a hiccup away. We roam the Bruce Trail and enjoy the picturesque waterfalls that spill from the Escarpment edge into the valley town below. Our children enjoy wagon rides, tire swings, and mini golf. The sun rises on our radicchio and sets on our solar lights. We share this setting sun with wild turkeys and coyotes; birds of prey and bunnies.
Our homes are simple, yet they hold the imprint of more than one generation. Our neighbourhood is blessed with character and characters—and we know the footpath to each other’s castles. We are a modest and conserving group of neighbours, complete with weeds and well water.
As neighbours, we ‘catch up’ over the fence while sharing a cornucopia of tomatoes, pears, apples and pumpkins. We recount drought stories, war stories…and love stories. We are writers, rock stars, farmers, teachers, veterinarians, and skygazers; we are all kinds, all cultures and all ages. Garage sales, corn roasts and outdoor movie nights keep us connected and preserve a sense of belonging. The place we live contributes to our wellbeing as individuals as well as to the vitality of our little community.
We live in the simple and in the sublime. We’re a little bit country, and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. In the words of Steven Tyler of Aerosmith: we’re livin’ on the edge; you can’t help yourself from fallin’—in love with this place we call home.
Living on the Edge
Note: This post is a recent submission to the Royal LePage “My Great Neighbourhood” Contest. Please vote for my submission here! P.S. Great places make for great writing. Do you have a place you are fond of?