Characters, Habits, Music

Writing Habits

Hey, kids. I have a question. I want to know if I’m alone in this:

Do you make playlists for your characters?

I mean, I know that lots of people have playlists for specific stories, and almost everyone listens to music of some sort while they’re writing (let me know if you don’t!), but how specifically targeted is that music? What is it that drives the choice? It is even conscious?

I, for one, have almost ten different playlists currently on my iPod dedicated to specific characters. Some of them have been on there for years. Some of them only have four songs, while others have thirty. I choose the songs based almost entirely on lyrics, but sometimes tone has an effect, too. For some reason, Linkin Park gets along swimmingly with one particular story from my past. If you ever want to write a story with excessive angst, I’d highly recommend them as musical inspiration.

But do you know what’s really strange about me? I also like to put the playlists on even when I’m not writing. I put them on when I’m walking to class, or to the bus, or even when I’m just hanging out in my room. I sing along and pretend that I’m the character speaking, and I imagine who they would be saying those things to, and how they’d say it, and under what circumstances.

Sometimes, I even find songs that represent more than one character, and then I stage entire scenes in my head–epic arguments between friends and rivals, sappy love scenes between romantic interests, sometimes even battles. There are also, often, cut scenes with the characters up on stage rocking out to their songs, like a music video. Most of them are rock stars.

Is this normal? Or am I, yet again, proving myself a freak of nature? Maybe this is just because I’m a movie person and a total sucker for musicals? Let me know. Because sometimes I wonder about my own mental health.

But, to be clear, I’m not saying I think character playlists are a bad thing. I would be a mighty fine hypocrite if I did. In fact, I think music is a brilliantly effective way to get inspired to work. After all, art comes in all forms; I’m just borrowing from one to develop another. I’ve even considered writing a story entirely based on lyrical sentiments in CDs, but then it would just be an episode of Glee. Not that I don’t like Glee. Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that.

In related news, no, I haven’t made a playlist for my novel yet. Although I do have a pre-existing one consisting entirely of reggae music that is filling that position fabulously. Oh, Bob Marley, you are fabulous.

Lyrically yours,
M.M. Jordahl

“Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.” -E.Y. Harburg

Progress Report
Bottom of the Garden: uh…not sure what my word count is ’cause I’ve been handwriting…but almost halfway through chapter 3 for the second time! Stupid outline changes….

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5 thoughts on “Writing Habits”

  1. I do all of the above, which you probably knew, and oh wow is it ever fun. There was actually a post on Fandom!Secrets of all places about this today–though it was more about associating songs with fandom characters and imagining said characters singing the songs, but a similar principle.

    One of the (many) things I admire about music–well, good music–is that it’s got the art of suggestion down. There are the lyrics, & there’s the music, & there’s a space between them you can sorta crawl into and set up shop in–a place where lots of different kinds of characters can live & relate–if that makes any sense…

    1. Well, I’d expect as much from you. How many times did we listen through the entirety of Meteora, singing along with our characters? XD

      I do not know what Fandom!Secrets is. Is this a problem?

      1. It’s…really not a problem. Fandom!Secrets is sort of like postsecret only just about fandom, but it’s very silly and often pretty dumb so I wouldn’t recommend it at all. xD

        & oh, Meteora…

        Nearly all the playlists I have are character playlists. I’ve started putting some of ’em up on 8tracks, which you should really check out sometime.

  2. I really like the idea! My writing music doesn’t get too far beyond making sure I’m listening to something not too distracting–normally classical music, although in editing BHOH I had the song ‘Jail’ by Down on repeat for literally hours, it’s just hard-wired to my productivity circuits somehow (BHOH itself was partially sparked by Within Temptation’s ‘Hand of Sorrow’). But giving characters a leitmotif which you listen to when you don’t write sounds really smart, it’s like tricking yourself into thinking about them so you have more ideas. I may try to emulate (:

    1. Haha, yeah, if there’s anything I’m good at, it’s tricking myself into doing things.

      What’s your play count on that song? Although I dunno if your knock-off music player tracks those sorts of things…:P

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