It’s Time to Face the Music

Hi everyone.

Today I want to talk about how I use music in my writing process.

First, let me say that music is an absolutely essential part of my life. I listen to music every single day – when I’m cooking, or doing the dishes, or just generally chilling after dinner; in the car, on the el, or the bus. It’s there, like nitrogen, oxygen, argon and carbon dioxide. It’s the air I breathe.

So naturally, music finds its way into my writing, too.

Like a lot of people, I discovered that “regular” music – you know the kind with people singing words – is too distracting while I’m actually writing. Songs have a funny way of taking up space in your head, and before you know it, you’re writing down the lyrics instead of your story. (Sure, it’s funny until someone gets sued.)

Anyway, now I listen to either instrumental tracks – usually classical things online – or “white noise” things I find on YouTube. My current favorite is a writer’s cabin in the woods. There’s a manual typewriter, a crackling fire, and a wet, drippy thunderstorm going on. It’s a kind of music, and it works for me. The only negative is that it makes me have to go to the bathroom. A lot.

 

 

 

 

I also use music to inspire me when I’m getting to know my characters. Like a lot of writers I put together playlists, one for each major character. These playlists always consist of songs that I feel represent these people – like, if they were in a movie, this is what you’d hear whenever they appear on screen. The songs become inextricably linked with the characters in my mind, so whenever I listen to them I learn new things about my people. It’s like magic and when I’ve picked the right songs for them, I end up loving them even more.

 

 

 

How about you? Do you use music in some form when you write?

I’d love to hear about it in the Comments section.

Thanks for reading.

 

10 Ways to Stay Creative Despite Everything

Writers, like most people, fall into slumps – you know where our brains aren’t capable of much more than wondering what to make for dinner? And even that can be too much sometimes.

So when the dreaded slumps hit you know it’s time to shake things up.

 

 

 

It used to be that just going out and socializing with friends would do the trick – talk all night about non-writing subjects, eat some tasty junk food, and maybe have a few beers – only that’s not really a good idea now, despite what some ignorant asshats say.

 

 

 

 

So, here are 10 ways to kick start your creativity in the Covid19 world we live in now.

  1. Create an Inspiration Board – also known as Vision Boards or Mood Boards —  This can be for your current novel or something else entirely. I made my first inspiration board when I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. I covered a large piece of foam core board with pictures of beauty and health, along with images of my ideal environment (a beach house down the shore). I placed it over my monitor and looked at it every day. It helped a lot.

2. Listen to music – I listen to instrumental stuff when I’m writing because the lyrics in songs just distract me. But when I’m not writing, I love rock, pop, rap, R & B, metal, and even — God help me — some country,  (hey, Kacey Musgraves and Shania Twain… ‘sup, girls?). Music wakes up my brain and fills my soul with gladness.

3. Meditate – I started meditating a few months back, and once I got into the swing of it I realized it really did spark my writer’s brain. Plus, doing it makes you feel just a little bit virtuous.

4. Watch Netflix – when your brain is running on empty you need to pick other people’s brains. Movies and TV shows are loaded with the creative ideas of many, many people so dive in – the water’s fine.

5. Get a new hobby/learn a new skill – depending on what you choose, this can be either relaxing or demanding. Either way it will get you out of your accursed writer’s head for a while.

6. Read books – both fiction and non-fiction. I’ve found that reading in my own genre tends to make me either contemptuous or envious – neither of which is good for me. So I try to read in other genres when I read fiction. Non-fiction really ignites my brain, especially the well-written stuff. Unfamiliar times, events, and people turn me on and always give me new ideas for stories. Reading Dragon Teeth, by Michael Crichton right now.

7. Doodle or sketch – even if you’re not artistic. This is tough if you’re not artistic, but once you chain your ego to a parking meter outside (where it can bark its little heart out), it is very freeing and a lot of fun.

8. Take naps – oh, I can hear people screaming about naps being “a waste of time” now, but really, studies show that a refreshed brain is a productive brain. Take that, Corporate America.

9. Learn how to cook a new cuisine – if your idea of “ethnic cuisine” is Taco Tuesday, maybe you should branch out a little. So far I’ve cooked vegetarian, Indian, Ethiopian, Chinese, Mexican, and Japanese meals. Be brave. Even less than perfect meals tastes great.

10. Have sex – this is kind of a tricky one as far as stimulating one’s creativity goes. Some people feel energized afterwards, while others just feel sleepy. However, considering the amount of physical, emotional, and psychological energy being exchanged here it certainly couldn’t hurt.

 

 

 

 

 

Safe sex, everyone!

How about you?

What are some of the ways you keep your creativity all shiny and new?

Let me know in the Comments section.

Thanks for reading.

How I’m Going to Make 2020 My Bitch

I realize that making a public declaration like this is one of the stupidest things you can do. Everyone knows that as soon as you make a grand pronouncement like this you are essentially cursing yourself in a very public manner.  (This is probably why nearly every great undertaking starts off with very little fanfare. In secret. If it fails, who cares? Nobody, because no one knew about it.)

Well, where’s the fun in that?

I believe in the Accountability Model of Achievement (aka The Public Shaming Model)– the more people whom I tell, the more likely I am to actually do what I said I was going to do. Because if I don’t then everyone and their mother will be guaranteed to ask me “Whatever happened to that thing you said you were going to do…?” for the next freaking year. Or two.

So, the more people who are invested in something, the less likely I am to let it die a quiet, unnoticed death.

That’s the plan anyway.

So, here goes.

In 2020 I plan on finishing my novel (… that I initially started about 4 years ago in grad school. Don’t ask. I did actually, technically finish it, it just sucked so bad I couldn’t bear it. Hence, third draft’s the charm, eh?) and  publishing it.

 

 

 

I am working on getting the movie  I made a few years ago — Gameheads — broken up into bite-sized videos and put on YouTube as a serial.

I am revamping my old student blog into a new author blog. (You’re looking at it right now, babe.)

I am starting a podcast, which will be about writing plus whatever-the- hell-I-feel-like-talking-about.

I’m going to do more book reviews — both fiction and non-fiction — along with some movie and TV reviews.

As God is my witness, I am going to learn how to play the guitar even if it KILLS me!

 

 

 

And finally, I want to start

attending some writing or sci-fi/fantasy  conventions as a guest again.

 

Whew! That’s enough for one year.

How about you? What are your plans for 2020? Don’t be afraid — just spit it out! Believe me, not only is it therapeutic, but the prospect of some good, old-fashioned public shaming might be just the kick in the ass you need to get things done.