Using Music To Write

 

I’m a music lover. I think I love music and writing equally. So why not combine the two? When I wrote my first book I struggled to concentrate in the beginning due to my office having no door (I use the converted sun-room…awesome windows but NO privacy). The kids or the cats are always in my space and interruptions were not just by the minute, they were by the SECOND. My solution? I stole my husbands super squishy and comfy Star Wars headphones and put them on. I tried listening to soothing or mellow music at first – you know, meditation tunes and yoga music, some Sarah McLachlan, Celine Dion, Dido, Michael Buble even James Horner. I realized rather quickly that unless I wanted to nod off every time I wrote, I needed a playlist that would keep me awake but not distracted.

Thus my first Writing Playlist was born. I called it ‘WritingMess’. Well, I still call it that, because it IS a writing mess, but I love it so! I have changed my writing playlist up with each project and it ranges from the above mentioned names, with a LOT of other surprises to shake up  my brain while I write. When I’m writing a particularly sad scene, I put on Adele, Band of Horses, Damien Rice, Heart or The Wallflowers. When I need a mental pick me up, I might scroll to Ben E. King, IZ, Bon Jovi, Florence + the Machine, Jack Johnson, Keith Urban or Shania Twain. For those crazy scenes or times when I simply want to rock out while writing, I head-bang to some Simple Minds, Pitbull, OneRepublic, The Naked And Famous, MGMT, Lynyrd Skynrd, Katy Perry, Fun., David Guetta, Cheap Trick…just to name a few. I rock out a lot. Constantly. So much so that I embarrass my kids and make my husband cringe at my singing. In fact, the last time I was in a ‘rock-out’ kind of mood, I actually tweaked my neck from all my spastic head banging and fist pumping. There’s also the music that helps take me to dark places when I need it…Bush, Christina Perri, Civil Twilight, Cold War Kids, Dashboard Confessional, Evanescence, Kings Of Leon, Matchbox 20, The Pretenders, The Script, U2…again…just to name a few.

I should point out – the music above doesn’t fit into the categories perfectly that I assign them to in my head. It’s the way the music makes me feel…the memories from a certain time and place when I first heard a particular song, or the way that song makes me feel today. And most of my favorite songs could fit into every mood I feel when I’m writing. That’s the thing about good music…it’s versatile. It’s there for us to enjoy.

So if you don’t already use a music playlist for writing – and you need to block out your life – try it some time. Just make up a list of songs from your library that you think may fit your story and go with it. I find that sometimes I hit the repeat button for twenty minutes on the same song and other times I have gone through half the playlist without really ‘hearing’ anything. It’s my way to get lost in my own house.

With that thought I’ll leave you with the song that just came up randomly on my WritingMess playlist (because today I’m feeling brave and the music is on shuffle)…Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds.

Happy writing, happy listening!

Vegan French Toast for Meatless Monday!

No, this post has nothing to do with writing…not directly anyway. BUT after reading about yet another ground-beef recall after having breakfast, I remembered today is Meatless Monday! For those of you that are not Vegan or Vegetarian, like myself…do relax, this post is not meant to force-feed fruits and vegetables down your throat, it’s simply a reminder that we don’t need to eat meat every day of the week, at every meal. There are yummy and healthy substitutions for almost everything out there. 😉

I don’t drink milk or eat eggs, but I still like French Toast. And if you do too, you know that most if not all traditional recipes call for milk or heavy cream, eggs and lots of butter. Is this the only way to make French Toast? Nope! I have easy and healthy substitutes for your favorite French Toast recipe – substitute the milk and eggs with Almond Milk…add cinnamon or vanilla if desired and cook till the bread is browned on both sides. It’s really that easy. And it’s delicious. My kids – and the kiddo that slept-over last night didn’t know the difference.

Meatless Monday is not about punishing your taste buds by removing all your favorite foods from your meals…it’s about experiencing new things – giving your taste-buds something new to crave – while giving your body, the environment and factory animals a break for a day. It’s four days a month – try it, you might like it! 🙂

Happy Meatless Monday Everyone!

Sunday…all work, no play?

Well, I’d much rather be sitting on the couch with my feet propped up reading a good book (my To Read pile is quickly getting taller than I am)…but since today is Sunday, it means I have to finish what I didn’t start yesterday – yard-work. Not the fun stuff either…the down on your knees, grime under your nails, weed-pulling stuff.

After that I’m sure it will take the other half of the day to straighten my back out so I’m not walking around like a hunchback. I’m already sore just thinking about it really.

So anyway, while I’m getting dirty and pulling weeds, hopefully you are having a fantastic Sunday! Enjoy it, Monday comes next. *smile*

What NOT to do if you are a writer, with kids.

Hello Parents Who Write!! 😀

I’m still new at managing my time between writing and being a parent. So I have little advice on how to make your days perfect if you happen to have a current writing project under way and small children under foot. But I’m an EXPERT now at what NOT to do. How about I give you some suggestions so that you may laugh along with me? Laughing by myself always makes my eight year old nervous. Just a disclaimer – I will not confirm nor deny that the following has or has not happened in my house:

  1. Prepare snacks and meals ahead of time. It never fails that the moment you sit down at your computer, someone will be dying of hunger or thirst.
  2. If you haven’t seen your pets in say…the last thirty minutes, go look for them. Chances are they’re being held against their will by your preschooler who thinks that doll top would look FABULOUS on Mr. Kitty. Or just for practice, the kids could have locked poor Fido in the bathroom. You know, for potty training of course.
  3. Lock up all permanent markers. This needs no explanation.
  4. Lock up all lotions, toothpastes and anything else that can be squished from a tube. This also needs no explanation.
  5. If the 3 year old blames the cat and the cat rolls her eyes at the 3 year old and then casually begins bathing itself – blame them both for the entire roll of toilet paper that is now draped across your living room floor, furniture and light fixtures.
  6. Don’t let anyone under 10 years old outside to play without you. Even if you have an amazingly child-proofed backyard and sit at the window to write while they play. Someone will get hurt, always. It’s the best time for your son to think he’s superman and attempt to fly by climbing to the top of the tool shed. Or your daughter may think this is a great time to finally scale the lemon tree, and fall out backside-first.
  7. If he says ‘I did wipe my butt!’ check anyway, even if you are in the middle of writing an intense sci-fi action scene. There are some things you just DO NOT want to have to scrub out of your living room sofa at the end of the day. And if it smells bad – don’t wait…track down the offending child and change them immediately. Again – there are some things you do not want to scrub out of the sofa at the end of the day.
  8. Matchbox cars are like landmines – DO NOT ALLOW THEM INTO YOUR OFFICE. They will end up under the cushion of your chair – unpleasant. Or beneath the wheels of your chair – dangerous. Or scattered around the room waiting for that moment when the kid screams like a finger just got cut off and you bolt across the room not looking at the floor…remember – landmines.
  9. Be careful with this statement and use it only when another adult is in the house: “Leave me alone unless someone’s bleeding or stops breathing.” This opens up many opportunities for children to explore other possible ways to destroy your home.
  10. Last but most important. Suddenly you can concentrate and you’re on a roll, having pumped out 500, maybe 1000 words without one single interruption. Because it’s quiet…too quiet. Children that are too quiet are either hiding because they broke something, or they are sitting under the dining room table popping Children’s Vitamins like candy, perhaps they are giving the dog a haircut – or using the cat de-shedder to make bangs on their own head. They may be drinking the sippy cup they found under the sofa from last Tuesday, dumping everything from your closet to get to the ‘good’ dress-up clothes, seeing how far a battery goes up a toddler nose, or they may not be breathing at all. Unless you have an infant who is sleeping in a bassinet at your left elbow while you work, assume that silence is dangerous.

And yes, that’s dental floss. Call it simple mummy curiosity.

The Dreams are Baaaack…

It seems I might actually be starting a THIRD writing project this year. No doubt, this is ambitious to say the least. And why would I start another series when my first just came out and my second is still in editing? Well, because the dreams won’t go away. I’m not exaggerating either…three times in the last week the same dream has popped up which means I’m getting little to no sleep and am waking up grumpy. The only benefit is that having multiple dreams, with slightly different scenarios means I’m basically writing the plot out in my sleep.

What shall I do about this, when I’m already busy enough with other projects and life (there are two kids in this house…somewhere…)? And then it dawned on me – what about a writing calendar with a writing schedule? DUH! I’m sure many other writers do this very same thing, but I like to write when I feel passionate about a certain part in the story, when the house is quiet enough and well, when I feel like it. I don’t use a schedule, and now that my schedule is crazy-busy, I need one.

Does this mean I must organize my life a bit more? Yes, yes I think it does. Ok, so many of us are familiar with Google Calendars and I use it already – not as often as I should, but I do know my way around them. But if you don’t, I found this blog most helpful! Thank you Words on a page for the tips. Now what I need to do is figure out how best to manage my time between life (you know, parenting, chores, etc…) and writing. And now blogging. Plus there’s research to be done too. And…and…a whole lot of other stuff I’m not prepared to remember just in my brain. Which is why I need a calendar. And a schedule. Yuck but necessary.

Now if only I could schedule my dreams…that would be perfect!