What makes the perfect writing soundtrack? To my mind it should consist of music that is as familiar to you as possible so as to create a minimum of distraction. In other words, instead of really listening to it you know the songs so well that they become a sort of mantra that repeats over and over again in your ears. In this sense the music becomes almost like white noise, blocking out all other potential distractions and allowing you to immerse yourself as far into the story as possible. (This principle also applies equally to when you’re on a long flight and are trying to sleep. In fact, in both situations I sometimes simply put on a short playlist of songs or even just ONE song and put it on repeat. Under normal circumstances that would become annoying, but as mantra-like background noise I find that this works incredibly well.)
But music has something that simple white noise and mantras don’t have. Music carries with it emotions and feeling and energy and power. (Everyone who’s been for a run with their headphones on and some high-energy track playing at high volume knows what I am talking about.)
So my goal is often to try and match emotions in the music to those that I am trying to bring out in whatever story I am currently working on. Stories are usually a tapestry of very specific emotional and energetic moments, each one leading to the next. The trick is finding the music that compliments that.
Maybe it’s something from the soundtrack of your own life? Perhaps your characters in writing are going through something that you yourself once experienced and you put on the music that brings those memories rushing back. Or maybe something a bit less close to home, something happy, something sad, something that makes you feel uneasy or slightly off-kilter? Somewhere out there in your music library there is the perfect song to match whatever it is you are writing.
As for me? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly (and definitely narcissistically) I find that quite often my own songs that I’ve written and recorded can match the moods and emotions that I am looking for. I am, after all, writing those feelings and emotions from within. Check out www.secretworldonline.com for free downloads. Maybe there’s a perfect song in there for your writing too?
Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.
Iain has published 4 books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (book 1), Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost (book 2), Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue (book 3), and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic (book 4). He is currently working on the fifth book in the series. For more information on the Kitty Hawk series, go to http://www.kittyhawkworld.com/.
Iain is also the author of The Wizards of Waterfire Series. The first book in the series The Guild of the Wizards of Waterfire was published in April 2014.