Monday, 29 April 2013

The Writing Process Described in Songs

If you are anything like the rest of us music junkies here at ATWN, and you're also a writer, you probably have extensive writing playlists for your novels. You probably listen to a song a hundred times over just to be sure you're hitting the mood you want just right. Choosing the perfect songs and creating the playlists that will keep you writing long after your mojo has run out is complicated.

But, then, so is writing. Writing is complicated. Last week I was talking to my husband about a new book idea. We'd been throwing scenarios and questions at one another, and it was I had just finished (first round) revisions a couple of weeks ago on my last WIP, and it felt good to be brainstorming something new. It was exciting, and it got me thinking. Our books have playlists, but what about us writers? It kind of makes sense for the writing process to have its own playlist, doesn't it?

Here is how I envision my own writing process to play out in songs:

The shiny new idea:

LET'S GET IT STARTED by Black Eyed Peas 

I especially agree with these lryics. I mean, it's like they were taken from my own head:

C'mon y'all, lets get woohoo!
Lets get woohoo! (in here)
Lets get woohoo!
Lets get woohoo! (in here)
Lets get woohoo!
Lets get woohoo! (in here) Ow, ow, ow!
Ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya...

After I've been writing for a while, and things are probably going waayyyy too smoothly, I almost always hit THE DREADED SAGGING MIDDLE.

That's when this song makes the most sense:

LOSER by Beck

You can't write if you can't relate anyone? 

But then it happens! I pull myself out of that no man's land and suddenly the fire is back. I'm writing with more intensity than before and I know my characters and story better than ever. That's when this song fits:


I think we all know the lyrics to this one, especially the hook (okay, maybe I'm not walking around saying "yo" but I can sing the crap out of this song):

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo

And before I know it, I've reached the ending. It's always a bit rushed on the first few drafts, but nevertheless, the book is written. I've completed an entire draft! So of course this is how I'm feeling:


Seriously, is there a better song for that moment? Maybe, but I still kind of feel like this every time I overcome that first draft hurdle.

Then there is always the fun of revisions, but maybe I'll make another writing playlist for revisions, because let's face it, revisions are a totally different beast. They definitely deserve their own post.

How would you describe your writing process using songs? Which songs would you say fit your method best?


  1. "Wake Up" by the Arcade Fire is probably the song I return to the most when I need motivation for almost anything. Kids getting on my nerves..."Wake Up"...WIP getting ornery..."Wake Up"...just poured a bowl of cereal and then discover there's no milk..."Wake Up"...I can't go wrong with Arcade Fire for a little get-up-and-go. I find myself most often writing to music that doesn't seem to get in the way: M83, The Field, Daft Punk...stuff where the lyrics don't really get all tangled up in my words.

  2. Paul, "Wake Up" is a great song! I can see why that would be your go-to song. Now I'm in the mood for a little Arcade Fire myself. :)

  3. Great post Cindy! One of the tracks I've been returning to a lot during revisions is the Franz Ferdinand remix of the LCD Soundsystems track All My Friends. It's beat just keeps me rolling, and it can often find itself on repeat!

    Oh, and also Japandroids The Nights of Wine And Roses. Another track I have listened to over, and over again lately.

  4. Oh, I <3 this post Cindy! I totally need music when I draft, and I tend to latch onto an artist or song for each WIP, or WIP section. One that captures that MC voice or the manuscript's "feel" at that moment.

    For NIL, I listened to tons of Rise Against, Lana Del Ray, Pendulum, Spoon, and Linkin Park. :) And you're so right, revisions are a different beast entirely, and require different tunes.:)