I think I already wrote another blog post similar to this, but at the request of a friend, I felt compelled to write about it again.
If I drew a pie chart of where I draw inspiration from for my writing, at least 50% of that chart would be “Music”. On one of the many “writers” pages I follow on Facebook, one asked, “What is a must-have for you when you’re writing?” You’d think most of us would have responded with:
Instead, most responded with “A quiet place by a bay window overlooking a meadow as the sun rises and birds sing in the distance” or “Coffee!” I answered with, “My iPod.” Seriously. I don’t go anywhere without it. Music is with me wherever I go—in a car ride to visit family two hours away, or making a trip to the gas station 2 minutes away. Something to play music on is as necessary to me while showering as soap is. If there is ever a quiet moment, I’m either putting my headphones in or blasting it while I do mom-stuff around the house.
I mean, haven’t you ever just listened to a song and thought, “Man, this is EPIC!”? It may be a song that is totally unrelatable to you, but there’s just something about it that makes you keep it on repeat. It makes you feel something, even if you don’t know exactly what that “something” is. For me, the moment this occurs, I start asking myself, “Why is this epic? Who is this about? Why do they feel this way?” Snippets of what look like scenes from a movie never made flash through my mind, and suddenly I can see and feel all the things that this unknown character does, all because of a song. And then, I WRITE about it, because I want to share what I just experienced with other people.
Writing to me is more than just putting characters and their stories on paper (…or my computer screen, I suppose, would be more accurate). Music isn’t just about filling the silence; it’s an experience. The lyrics, the tone of the music, the passion in the singer’s voice or in the instruments sets scenes up in my head. I listened to Joshua Bell play the violin for “o mio babbino caro” and it set up not just a scene in my novel, A Captive Heart, but that song created a connection between my two main characters that endures throughout the entire series. While listening to Sia’s “My Love” when I was in the middle of writing the sequel to A Captive Heart, all of a sudden, I began to see the heroine of my novel in a room full of mirrors where she…well, I won’t ruin it for anyone since that book hasn’t even been released yet, but I knew it was a scene that had to be worked into my book. It ended up becoming one of my favorite moments in the series.
Sometimes, it’s not even a scene that music inspires for me. “Beautiful, Beautiful” by Francesca Battistelli helped me understand and better develop my character, Sophia, in my series, Sophia’s War. Just the same, “Let Me Go” by 3 Doors Down helped me develop Adrian in the same series. (I could go on and on giving examples of where songs have assisted me in character development, but I fear it might give away some facets of my characters I’m not willing to reveal outside the series…I like to surprise you guys, you know!)
And other times, songs blanket an entire book or series with its overall essence. For instance, I can’t listen to “Praise You in This Storm” by Casting Crowns or “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons without seeing the entire Sophia’s War series play out in my head as if I were watching a music video. Same thing for “Love Story” by Taylor Swift—all I see when I hear that song is Cassie and Friedrich’s lives from A Captive Heart playing out in my mind.
I may not be on my computer or jotting down notes on a note pad every second of every day, but I, like most writers, am always writing, especially when I have a playlist going. Also, when a song has enraptured me (one can usually tell this after I’ve had it on repeat for the past five hours), it’s dangerous to interrupt my thought process. I am prone to get angry like a gorilla being taunted by some kid making faces on the other side of the observation glass…amiright?
I think it’s pretty awesome that artists can inspire one another, despite the different way we choose to express ourselves. For instance, go on YouTube and you will find many unknown artists who have written songs inspired by a character or book. Ask any writer what songs influence their writing, and if they are like me, they will most likely begin to gush about what song reminds them of a character or story they wrote. [*WARNING: I will not be held responsible if you approach an author with this question and ultimately find yourself unable to get another word in edgewise.*]
What about you? Whether you are a musician, a writer, a painter, etc., do you find inspiration in music? If not, what do you find inspiration in? I’d be delighted to know! Sound off below! I always respond 🙂
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