Nora’s Sunday Quickie: Writing Mix

Sorry this is a bit late. Just got back from a phenomenal retreat with my writers’ group, in which we took over a couple of historic farmhouses in Gettysburg, PA and did nothing but write for 5 days. (Well, OK, there were breaks for watching movies, making communal dinners, etc.) I spent most of that time writing quietly, because my companions were the type who needed quiet to function, and I’m cool with that. But my preferred writing soundtrack is actually pretty varied, and pretty unquiet. I change it up every so often, but here’s a sampling of what it contains at the moment, and the moods I try to create with each type:

  • Lots of Seal, Prince, and Erykah Badu, for mellowness
  • Video game music and Jpop (e.g., “Time’s Scar” from the Chrono Cross Soundtrack), for adventuring
  • Fight music: Rage Against the Machine, Drowning Pool, Linkin Park
  • Portishead and Annie Lennox for sex scenes (…yeah. Don’t laugh.)
  • Various indie artists, including some only released in the Open Source music scene (e.g., Manolo Camp, Camu Tao, Hydroponic Sound System) whose music just speaks to me in some way. Great example: HSS’s “Delirium” contains the lyrics “I just can’t sleep tonight/every time I try I feel the need to write/so I get up and throw on a beat that’s right/and I hit that (writing) pad/if I’m tired in the morning, too bad”. This is the story of my life.

What’s interesting (to me) is that so little of this music adheres to my usual musical tastes. I’m mostly a bebop and old school hip hop kind of girl; favorite artists are Q-Tip/A Tribe Called Quest and other Nineties artists. But I’ve discovered that jazz is the worst music to write to because sometimes it’s too mellow, and when it’s not I get into it and start paying more attention to the music than what I’m doing. And the Nineties stuff triggers too much nostalgia; I start remembering that I first heard this song at a sorority party, or that song when I met my best friend, and so on. The music I write best to is music that jars me out of my musical comfort space; sometimes it’s music I don’t even like. But if it helps me write, it goes into the mix.


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