Writing With Music: Yay Or Nay?

Today it’s time for me to address the age-old question: should you play music while writing or not?

First off, there is no should. Some people thrive on silence while they write, some require background noise, some want sensory overload while they attempt to churn out words. Personally, I fall into the latter category. If I don’t have a playlist with several songs that fit the mood and the theme of the story I’m writing, I feel lost and can’t add the required depth to the story.

However, when I have a really specific plot, it can be hard to find songs that work for me. I’ve only found one song that fits a certain plot of mine. The weirdest, and greatest, thing is when you’re just minding your own business, listening to some music, and suddenly THIS SONG FITS MY WIP PERFECTLY OH MY GOD.

One band is my go-to source for WIP-related songs. It’s the British band Ten, fairly unknown outside of a small circle of devoted fans (I have an eccentric taste in music). Ten is perfect for me since I love well crafted lyrics that avoid clich├ęs, incredible melodies and hooks, heavy guitars and sexy voices. Once I had outlined an entire seven novel fantasy series (it’s about halfway done, before y’all ask). I had always skipped this one song on one of Ten’s albums and for some reason it came up and, for once, I didn’t skip. And no lie, that song fit the series to a tee. I mean, from the lyrics via the mood to the voice and instruments. It was as if it was specifically written for that series.

When things like that happen, it can give your motivation and inspiration a huge boost. Even now, when I hear that particular song, I immediately want to work on that particular WIP. It’s a strange sensation. And that makes me wonder how people write without music.

So, do you guys write without music? What is your reason?

And I leave you with one of my favorite songs from my favorite band:

It Ends This Day – Ten

What It’s Like Inside My Head, or The WIP Machine

Some of my writer friends call me the WIP Queen. At least, I’m assuming they mean WIP and not Whip. Because that would just be awkward. I swear I didn’t tell them– Anyway.

When I told my friend slash alpha reader Derek* about my intention to write a blog post about this subject, he said, and I quote: “That is a fascinating topic. I find your head amazeballs. Shaped like a giant inflated pumpkin balloon. Full of weird thoughts. Passions and desires. Snacks.”

Giant inflated pumpkin balloon aside, all of these things are true (and possibly deserving of their own blog posts at some point in the future). However, first and foremost, my head is filled with a WIP generator. While that might sound blissful to some, it’s a pain in the behind.

To wit, this is the process that usually occurs, while hiking, cooking, showering, snoozing, et cetera:

  1. A line pops into my head. Dialogue, or a first line of a first chapter, or a description, or maybe a faint idea of plot.
  2. Oh, that would make a cool short. But should I go route A, or route B?
  3. Dammit, I can’t choose. A divine sign that I should do both?
  4. In the span of an hour at the most, Route A and Route B both grow at a breakneck pace from short to novella to novel, adding characters and background and plot threads, until it’s a series of at least five books in the same universe with an ever expanding plot and character list.
  5. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This has led to a writing folder with 51 WIPs, at last count. Only 51, because I ignore the ideas that don’t make my writer boner go SPROINK immediately. And just about 14 of those 51 are shelved. For the others, I still get ideas, I still brainstorm, I still write. I find it hugely frustrating that I will never be able to finish all of them in my lifetime, and that the way my brain is wired means that I’ll come up with another 100 or so in the next decades that may never see the light of day.

To combat this, I’ve come up with a strategy. I focus on one WIP. That’s my main squeeze, my bb, my magnum opus. As long as I make my daily word count for that WIP, I’m allowed to play around with others. Which is necessary. The next WIP I’m going to focus on, when my current one TRUE COLORS is done (just three more chapters), is very lighthearted. I won’t be able to only write that one without also dabbling in some grimmer worlds. But that’s a topic for next time, darlings.

*Derek is not for sale. Mine.

My process, let me show you it.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about their writing process. I… don’t really have one. Recently, I did outline my three main WIPs and distilled a process from that.

So, without further ado: my easy seven step guide to writing a successful* paranormal romance.

* = success rate not yet tested.

First, you create a timeline. And no, I have no idea why it’s not neatly in the middle of the paper. It was when I drew it. You’ll see.

Second, you add the story arc. The quest, if you will.

Then, you add the relationship progress throughout the novel.

Fourth, you add vague plot details, to be filled in later.

But you’re not done yet. You need conflict. Conflict, obviously, needs a red pen.

I said seven steps, didn’t I? For the sixth step, you add deaths. No paranormal romance is complete without heart-wrenching deaths.

Finally, and most importantly, you add dirty poarn in crucial places. Because the best poarn is dirty contains character development.

See? Easy peasy. I know, it’s a wonder I’m not published yet. No need to thank me, I’m doing this out of kindness.