Similar to lots of jobs
Sorry if I’m shattering any illusions here, but being a writer is hard work. In lots of ways it’s a job like many others.
You have to turn up at your post. You have to put in the hours. You have to produce some sort of result.
Sometimes it can be tiring, frustrating and nerve-wracking.
At other times it’s invigorating, rewarding and morale-boosting.
And as long as there are more of those good times than the not so good then you’re motivated to keep going.
A different way of working
But working as a novel writer also has some unique aspects to it – or if not unique then they’re shared by only a few other professions.
Firstly, it’s a job where you have to work on your own. Even if you work in collaboration with another author, it’s still only you who can write your contribution. You can’t share or delegate.
Secondly, you’re the boss. You’re answerable to you – and so it’s easy to let yourself off the hook. ‘Not in the mood? Don’t feel writing several thousand words today? Rather wash the windows, sort your sock drawer, play around on social media? That’s okay. You’ll easily catch up when you’re in the mood.’ But of course you won’t. You’re procrastinating and the novel won’t write itself.
And thirdly, even when the spirit is willing and you’re at the desk and keen to get going, it can be hard to know how to proceed, hard to shut out the world and hard to stay in the zone.
The magic of music
And that’s where music comes in. I find that background music really helps me both get in the writing zone and helps me stay there. I don’t necessarily even hear or at least actively pay attention to it as I’m writing, but if my concentration does go then it’s the music that brings me back on task.
The plot playlist
That’s why I compile a playlist for each of my books. And it’s amazing how just hearing that first track gets my brain where it needs to be and the fact the tunes continue to play in the background helps to keep the real world at bay.
So, today I thought I’d share a sample of five tracks from each of the playlists I used for the first two books in my Skye series of novels as well as some from the one I’m currently using as I write the third book in that series.
And I love you so – Don McLean
Lon-dubh (Blackbird) – Julie Fowlis
Meadowlarks – Fleet Foxes
You are the best thing – Ray LaMontagne
I’m gonna do it all – Karine Polwart
Mad World – Michael Andrews
I still care for you – Ray LaMontagne
Your Ghost – Greg Laswell
Wherever you are – Military Wives
The sound of silence – Disturbed
Wicked Game – Chris Isaak
It’s always been you – Ray LaMontagne
I could never say goodbye – Enya
Fuel to fire – Agnes Obel
In our tears – Secret Garden
All the tracks on my playlists are atmospheric, evocative and appropriate for the feelings, moods and ideas I write about. These are just some of them.
If you click on a song title you’ll be taken to the track on Youtube where you can listen to the song for yourself and see what you think.
Do you find music helpful when you want to concentrate on something? Or is it distracting – if so what does help you focus?