I usually write to music. More accurately, I write to individual songs. I listen to one song on repeat, for hours, days, sometimes even weeks or months. I’m not sure at what point exactly this became a habit—perhaps the necessity grew out of being from a bigger family, or living with room/housemates in university and needing to block out noise to concentrate and study. While growing up, listening to music was in some ways more accessible than even books or movies. While lacking any skills to make music, I’ve always felt a connection. I think writing has deepened that connection and altered my relationship to music, serving not only to help quiet the outside world, but channel inspiration from it. The toe-tapping euphoria of loving a song often prompts the urge to write, to capture an image or idea. In those rare magical moments when it feels like the writing is writing itself, I usually find myself in an almost trance, grooving to a song I’ve listened to countless times already. This usually continues until another song gets stuck in my head, and then the process repeats. I feel a bit guilty, as it’s almost like I’m using the song, consuming it; however, I doubt the musicians would mind. If I ever found out any of my writing sparked creativity in anyone else, I’d be happy. It’s peculiar, too, when you listen to a song for that long, you really know it. Every note, every rise and fall. They become distinctly visible, and invisible while typing.
If I know I have to write, there are some songs I can return to that seem to get me in the “writing zone.” Maybe music vampire isn’t the right term...music serial dater? Either way, I feel music has become a lovely, and much needed companion in this writing journey.
Here’s a list (if you haven’t noticed already, I like lists) of some of the many songs I listen to while writing. They’re not all necessarily my favourite songs or artists, but there’s definitely some overlap. In compiling it, I’ve yet to uncover any patterns but I did gather a few insights. There are only a few lyric-heavy songs, as they can be more distracting when delving into the written word. Some are quite sad, others unabashedly fun. Most build momentum, and end in a gorgeous chaos. I think they all share a certain circular nature that helps focus my occasionally tangled brain. Anyways, have a listen if you’d like to:
[Sneak Peek: Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters has been guiding me through this time of quarantine, and one of her songs has become a writing song!]
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.