Tag Archives | writing playlist

Music to Write Girls By

photo © luca

Much typing here at writingislovely towers as I try to get this nth draft finished, in order to begin on the next and meet my deadline. Each draft adds more words, more detail, another layer of paint. Plenty gets cut, too, but please let’s not dwell on wordcount today.

This week I’ve been working on my heroines. Making them strong on the page, making them 3D – even though two of them are, at least in this telling, villainesses. Well, they need detail too, don’t they? Why would all the other characters cower and scatter at their approach, unless they have real substance? These ladies think they’re in the right, they think a Happy Ending is the one where they win and everything and everyone that was once in their way lies blackened and ruined. So, I’ve been spending time with them, imagining them centre stage, figuring out new nastiness for the violent one, new vanities for the cruel one.

And my ‘good’ heroine? Gah, she kept crying through one of the first, skeletal drafts. She didn’t like the forest, or being far from home, and she was worried she would lose and everyone would laugh at her. Okay, I see her point – but the heroines I like to read about, and the ones I want to write, have more courage than that. Of course they don’t like the scary forests, who would – the clue’s in the name, scary – but they figure out winning ways to get through it, tossing about quips and feats of cunning while they are at it. Hmmph. It is not as easy (of course) to write a character who is heroic, yet real, as it is to read one. Someone relatable yet still fantastic enough to warrant a tale. I’m getting there, but it will take a few more drafts ’til I am satisfied.

So. Here are some songs to write heroines by – whichever side they are on, good or evil. I didn’t want anti-man songs, or love songs if I could avoid it – the songs should be about how ace they are, not how rubbish boys are. These are songs that give me a swagger, so I hope that’ll be the case for your characters, as well.

As usual, if you don’t see a player please follow this link to 8tracks.com

(8tracks can only play songs in the same order twice, something to do with copyright & licensing. Here’s the tracklisting for the first couple of listens:

Wang Dang Doodle – PJ Harvey
Not Too Soon – Throwing Muses
The Littlest Birds – The Be Good Tanyas
Gone Again – Patti Smith
Walking Back to Happiness – Helen Shapiro
Rock ‘N Roll – Elastica
Monster Hospital – Metric
Feed The Tree – Belly)

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Music to Write Words By


I knew this post about background music was coming up, and I thought about trying to appear learned, discussing studies and suchlike and making a serious point. I was going to do research and links and everything.

But you know it already, don’t you? Background Music = Good. It can transform a load of tedious work into a sing-a-long-a-coding afternoon, it can help you input stats faster, or take you to that ‘zone’ where you concentrate and create. Either you have favourite tunes that you turn to, or you prefer silence but have to play something to drown out the traffic/CBeebies/howling wolves.

Here’s a mix of some songs from my ‘Writing’ folder – they are all wordless, so you won’t start singing along or find that the phrase you thought so original and poetic is actually a Ride lyric (yes, that has happened to me).

I live within earshot of two nurseries and two garages, but that’s not the only reason I have special ‘writing music’. I know that pre-mixed, timed playlists help me focus. The selection I’ve linked to below plays for about 30 minutes, and that’s important. It’s easy to get myself to sit down for half an hour, and while the mix is playing I don’t look up. I don’t need to look at the clock, or my phone, or anywhere other than my notebook or computer screen, because when it’s time to finish I’ll know – the music will end. And I’ll have half an hour of work done.

The music in my writing folder has been played so often now that certain songs sound odd unless I have a pen in my hand. That’s important, too; ritual is good for creativity. My brain knows that The Mercury Program or Tristeza always mean writing, and switches to work-mode faster that way.

Have a listen, let me know what you think, and sort out some playlists of your own. Tweet me your recommendations. They don’t have to be wordless (recently I’ve been playing a lot of Sonic Youth when writing, there’s something motorik about Daydream Nation that trances me out nicely), and if you always get your best work done to Hue + Cry, no one else has to know – just make sure it’s easy to press play when you sit at your desk.
(if you can’t see the player, I think it’s to do with Apple browsers. Have a listen on the site instead while I figure it out).

(8tracks can only play songs in the same order twice, something to do with copyright & licensing. Here’s the tracklisting for the first couple of listens:

1 Stolen Moments – The Six Parts Seven
2 My Only Swerving – El Ten Eleven
3 Dayvan Cowboy – Boards of Canada
4 So Long, Lonesome – Explosions in the Sky
5 Lori – Amiina
6 Open Sea Theme – Sven Libaek
7 Golden Hill – Tristeza
8 Isi – Neu!)

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