May 1, 2008

Three Ways Music Can Enhance Your Writing

I attended the League of Utah Writers Spring Workshop last weekend. I’m going to blog about three of the speakers and what I learned from them.

Nichole Rushing has published articles in BabyBug Magazine and currently has a children’s picture book with Peachtree Publishing which will be coming out soon. Nichole taught us three ways that music can enhance your writing.

1) Music Stimulates Creativity

The brain does not have a central point for processing music. Music stimulates creativity by engaging both sides of your brain. The right side of your brain processes the music, and the left side the lyrics. Nichole suggested listening to music that would trigger the side of your brain that you want to use, depending on what you are writing.

2) Creating Mood through Music

You can use music to alter your mood before you sit down to write. Nichole suggested listening to music for fifteen minutes before you write. Listen to the type of music that will get you in the mood for the results you are trying to achieve.

Music can also affect the mood of your story. She suggested pinpointing the over feel of the scene you are creating and find a song that matches.

Music selections of various genres were played and it was amazing how the different types of music did affect the way you feel.

3) Learning from Lyricists

Music lyricists, because of necessity, use fewer words to describe their ‘story’. Country music is a prime example. To illustrate this point, Nichole used the song Two Pump Texaco by Diamond Rio:

He was wipin' motor oil off her dipstick
She was pullin' on the hair that got caught in her lipstick
And with the smell of her perfume he forgot the smell of gasoline
As he was toppin' off her tank she said, "How far to Abilene?"

He sees 'em come
He sees 'em go
From the island of his
Two pump Texaco

This song is a great example of being descriptive. Nowhere in the lyrics does it mention the word car, or small town, or gas station. It does not tell us how long her hair is, or that she has her window down, but we picture all of these things because of the distinctive word choice.

The ideas Nichole presented were interesting and new to me. I had never considered using music to enhance my writing. But, I’m going to put it in my writers’ toolbox and see if it works for me. I’ll be sure to let you know.

Look for my upcoming blogs about the workshop:
-Plotting and Outlining with Jeff Savage
-Tips & Tricks for Quick Sales with Carolyn Campbell


Don said...

I have found that listening to a particularly good song, I find myself thinking about my story and the characters in it. Sometimes it makes sense, especially if the song is from the time and place in my life that is the basis for the story.

But often the song has absolutely nothing to do with the book, and yet it "reminds" me of my characters.

Maybe the song is stimulating the creative juices, and they flow in the form of character and plot inspiration. That makes sense, I think.

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