Sunday, August 5, 2012

Music and Muses

So yesterday, at my CFRWA meeting, we had a guest speaker whose topic was “Getting your Muse on Speed Dial”. Basically, the talk was about kick-starting your creativity. One of the ideas she put forth was using music or photos to get your imagination rolling.

First, she played a selection of 30 second bursts of different instrumental songs and told us to write whatever came to mind—a scene, a dialogue, a character description, whatever. Five selections of music later, I had five scenes written down.

Next, she put a picture up on the projector screen and had us write something about it. I didn’t get one word down. First of all, it took me most of our five minutes allotted time to figure out that the couple in the picture was holding wine glasses, not microphones. Then, I could not for the life of me figure out why the blonde guy in the background, who appeared to be injured, was making his way down the hill toward them. Turns out he was a zombie. It was, of course, a staged picture that has apparently been making its way around Twitter. It didn’t help that my eyes were killing me yesterday.

That exercise brought me to the stunning conclusion—well, stunning for me, because I forget things that I hear almost immediately, most notably and lamentably, names—that I am more auditory than visual. I may be incorrect in that evaluation. It may be that I am simply bored by things contemporary and/or zombie (sorry, but these two things are true, with the notable exception of soldiers). Perhaps a picture of a Navy SEAL coming out of the water... 

Where was I? Oh, yes, pictures. Maybe a picture of an archer lining up a shot in the forest or a spaceship hurtling toward a super-nova would have sparked me more. 

One thing she was very clear about—the music, for her, anyway, had to be without words. I cannot write when I’m hearing words with music, either, as I tend to sing along. Which got me to thinking; I’ve been using a lot of pagan metal to get me into the mood for a new story that’s come to my mind. Some of the music has words, but they are in languages that I don’t understand. At all. Languages like Irish, Russian, Swedish, Finnish. So, I’m going to try a little experiment. One day (this week, I hope), I am going to sit down for a writing sprint with my music. I will do this twice: once with instrumental only and once with the singers I don’t understand. I’m going to see if one or the other is easier or more difficult to write with.

What about you? Does your writing have a soundtrack? If so, do you prefer instrumental music only or do you prefer words?


Anonymous said...

Interesting post, Lynn. I'm definitely more of a visual person then audio. Many times, however, I'll write with music in the background. HAS to be instrumental. Anything with lyrics and I lose my concentration.

I like playing celtic harp, dulicmer, flute, piano, etc. I do, however, occassionally listen to music in other languagues that is soothing. I have a CD (can't remember the name of it) that is all Nordic based music. I use that one a LOT when I write!

Lynne Kensington said...

Thanks, Mae! I thought I was more visual, but I may be wrong. :)