J to tha M: Music as Inspiration

Gettin’ Our Jam On

music as inspiration for writing

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M:  You use music to write quite a lot, don’t you?

J:  oh, yes

it’s my favorite

and it’s important to me

M:  we use music with writing so differently

J:  I think so, too

you’re usually a silence only

M:  I can’t have any distraction while I’m actually sitting in front of the computer writing

J:  exactly

and sometimes I can’t write that first word unless music is filling my head

M:  when I listen to songs, I get distracted by the music and the lyrics and tend to sing out loud and get into it too much

J:  for me, it becomes a setting, a mood

if I’m writing action, I like to have driving, hard, fast music going

and for romance, something lush and chill-inducing

M:  I use it before I sit down to write, but pretty much for the same things

I use it more during my mulling stages for a scene or a character

Listen to songs that fit my character, what they would like

or ones that fit a scene, or ones that inspire a scene

J:  I actually use it that way, too

but accidentally

sometimes I’ll hear a new song out somewhere, and a scene will come to me

maybe something I’ve been contemplating for a while but couldn’t get quite right

and all it took was that tiny door opening

whatever trigger that song tripped

M:  I love that inspiration

when a melody or lyric or combo of the two hits a nerve – an emotion

and I want to translate that into a story or scene

J:  music has always been so important to anything I do

it is my first love

I can’t imagine not including it in my daily activities

I’m listening to music right now

while I chat and work and train. I think I’d freeze up without it

M:  music has been a huge part of your life – more than just a basic appreciation

and it’s interesting how you integrate them in your creative processes

J:  I imagine most musicians would be the same–even when they’re not creating more music

like, I wonder if some of them need music in their head just to walk around

can’t function without it

M:  just like writers

finding constant inspiration, ideas, scenes and stories floating around in their heads

J:  what song inspired you most recently?

M:  oh boy

the oddest things inspire me from songs. A line, a thought, an emotion

One of my all time favorites is “The pleasure, the feast, and the memory, the soar of kissing her lips”

just yes

from Bobby Long’s “Being a Mockingbird”

and Foo Fighters’ “These Days” was a big inspiration for our hockey hero Brody. The song itself, and as something he’d listen to.

It’s so great to have a song trigger a visceral response – happy, sad, romantic, tragic – and then try to interpret and take that feeling, that response, and put it into a story and character. I love that tug right in your heart or belly

That’s the response I think we all aspire to, no matter what you write in any discipline

J:  I have a playlist for every story

like a soundtrack of sorts. And an unofficial/official song for each. Like “Do Not Hang Your Head” by Elizabeth and the Catapult for Side Effects, and “Visions Part II” by The Ugly Club for Oracles.

M:  a lot of people do, and a lot of readers really enjoy them

I just am not that organized

J:  I think it helps me keep the mood consistent throughout the story

but I often add to the list as I find new music

M:  Inspiration is great no matter where you get it

J:  Getting some right now

brb

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About Jen Barry

Author of Young Adult novels. Reside in Nashville with my husband, a gorgeous Irishman. Drink too much coffee. Online way too much.

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