Missing the Music in My Head


Y’all have probably seen the WIP playlists writers post all over the place. They’re damn near everywhere, and I absolutely am similar in that I create them for every single story and book I write, even if I never share them with the public. There’s just something inspiring and encouraging to have a soundtrack and atmospheric feel to what I’m working on. It’s like a light switch or a trigger to put me right into the mood of my work, and I almost always do better at reaching a flow state and getting the words to just pour out if I have the right music on in the background.

When I sit back and consider it, I think that might actually be part of my problem with my current WIP.

While I know part of the slow near teeth-pulling rate I’ve managed so far on this is due to the style of the story (epistolary is not always easy to write, especially when it comes to moving plot along), part of it may be that this is the first story I’ve tried to write in years that doesn’t have a playlist/soundtrack set aside for it. I’ve tried to narrow down one, believe me. Even something as vague as deciding on a band to let Pandora create a channel around has proven almost impossible (past ones including Imagine Dragons and Lana Del Rey – the latter being something I did NOT at all expect as I enjoy her but she isn’t one of my faves, but fit the main character I was working on perfectly sound-wise). Part of it is that the story is set in a semi-medieval fantasy time period, which makes a lot of modern music feel out of place as I’m writing. Part of it too is that my “main” main character – out of the two who write most of the letters in this WIP – isn’t quite sure who she is and who she even wants to be. It’s very much a coming of age story, more so even than any other YA I’ve tried to write, and that makes it hard to narrow down music that fits her. Because which ‘her’ should I try to fit – the person struggling to find her place, or the one she will be by the end of the book? Should I try to focus on who other people see her as? Should I put together a playlist for my other main character – even though their mood is completely different and might throw me off when I move on to a letter from the first character’s perspective?

I’m just struggling with the sound of the story, and I worry that it may keep my writing speed lagging along, feeling more like work than any other story I’ve ever written. I love it – I honestly do, and I definitely don’t want to give up on the story. But at the rate I’m going, I feel like I may never manage to finish it.

And I know my writing self well enough to know that a set playlist or theme of music would help.

If only I could find it.

Who knows – I may turn toward something like soundtracks instead of vocal tracks/singles for this one. Or even ambiance tracks just with the sound of a forest, perhaps. It still might not reach the heart of the book for me, but it might bring something to the atmosphere as I write it.

Honestly at this point, I can’t see how trying will hurt me. If I can’t settle on a soundtrack, then I’ll just keep writing at the painfully slow rate I am now.

But if I can find the right music… Well that could make all the difference in this story’s world.

Do y’all have music you prefer to write to, or even music specific to an individual story? What about when you read – does that make a difference? Let me know in the comments – I’m always looking for more writing music to try out!

All content © 2015 by C.L. McCollum unless otherwise noted.

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