Name that tune in one

Music for writing

from rock'n'roll to mellow

also known as - what's your (writing) poison?

I'm the type of writer that uses music to get into the "zone". It gets my creative juices flowing, and I find it's better than waiting around for some "muse" to bring inspiration (though she's appreciated when she turns up out of the blue). Inspiration can often be a fleeting, elusive companion. So in moments when the well does run dry, I take a spin through my musical memory lane (also known as my music library). Some writers like silence to concentrate, I enjoy the good chaos of Fall Out Boy blaring out of my speakers...

Fall Out Boy are one of my favourite bands (yes I understand how that may be frowned upon, but to quote FOB "I Don't Care"...) They're my default "go listen to" when I'm feeling down in the dumps to help pick me up. They might not be everyone's cup of tea (that makes me sound very British, I don't even drink tea), but I can't get enough of their songs. Yes, my teenage years were spent listening to the likes of Blink 182, All American Rejects and Fall Out Boy, and I will openly admit to still listening to them. But, like them or not, lyrically speaking, Fall Out Boy have some of the best lines out there today (none of that aggressive weird sexist stuff modern music seems to love spewing out, oh, and they write their own stuff). So when it comes down to writing, more often than not, FOB is my poison.

Music is much like poetry, and songs have an insight into the soul much in the same way. Lyrics go straight to the point, each song tells a story, and they have to hit the target with just a few choice words. A simple line, a turn of phrase or sometimes just a beautiful visual. Fall Out Boy have a quirky style that suits me perfectly, because if nothing else, I am definitely quirky. Their music speaks to me in a way a lot of today's music doesn't (honestly, I've not properly listened to the radio in years as I find it infuriating, though there are still some great bands out there, you just have to dig for them).

From my all time favourite "Drop a heart and break a name", to the way I often feel as a writer "The hand behind this pen relives a failure everyday"... From the way bitter breakups feel "Say my name and his in the same breath, I dare you to say they taste the same. Let the leaves fall off in the summer and let December glow feel flames" to how vulnerable life can make me feel "I'm a stitch away from making it and a scar away from falling apart". These are just a few of the many lines I wish I'd written. They might not be in a classic novel or penned by a world famous writer, but they are elegant, insightful and most of all clever.

I do listen to a lot of different types of music, depending on what I'm writing, from Bob Dylan and Jeff Buckley, to Bob Marley, Elvis, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Billy Joel, Goo Goo Dolls, and my Spanish favourites Alejandro Sanz, Amaral, El canto del loco and Estopa. Estopa are a Spanish band and much like FOB their lyrics are original and always have a twist to them that's a delight to listen to. I like a band that's witty (and when I'm feeling homesick I listen to Estopa and my world returns to normality). Writers block can easily be cured in around three and a half minutes by listening to a truly good song, whatever your choice may be.

With the lyrical theme in mind,  I'm going to be writing a 99 word flash fiction for a competition this month. My only issue, for now, is topic. For short stories or flash fiction, you have to choose a simple scene or idea and make it go straight to the point, like a song. The aim is to express something that will stay with the reader in such a beautifully haunting way that it'll keep them coming back to read more! (the biggest problem is accomplishing that impossible dream of writing perfection, because we all now, something can always be re-edited). So over the next few weeks I'm going to start thinking like a song writer... fingers crossed that it works!

I'd love to hear other people's opinions on how they feel about writing with music. Rachel Caine always adds a list of her music playlist at the end of her books, so that readers can listen to what she did as she wrote, which I think is a lovely touch... So do you prefer complete silence, the sounds of nature (I used to have software on my computer that made everything from ocean and rain sounds to birds chirping to help me concentrate whilst writing essays at University) or like me do you like a good selection of music to choose from? In the meantime I leave you with FOB and Saturday (because it's Saturday and I can't sleep)... enjoy!


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