NaNo Day 3: Writing to Music

Sunday! I managed to get the requisite amount of work done on my genetics homework yesterday at around 8:00 PM, which meant that I then had time to actually relax with dinner and HGTV for an hour, then I joined Hannah in one of the dorm lounges to write for the rest of the evening. I stayed until 1:00 AM and managed to catch up to my goal for Saturday, despite being so behind from day one on Friday. So I wrote around 4,000 words yesterday.

Throughout the entire day, I had my November Splurge Movie Score playing on loop.

Every November, in honor of NaNo, I let myself buy one new movie score to write/do homework/live life to. This year’s Splurge is the score from Ender’s Game, composed by Steve Jablonsky. (I mentioned I really liked the music, right?)

I love how it’s got all of the louder, more in-your-face sounds of your usual scifi/action movie score, but also the softer, more contemplative cello weaving throughout it all to tie everything together. It fits my NaNo this year very well. I’m glad Ender’s Game came out at such a perfect time for me to get my hands on this for writing this November.

Here’s a preview of the score:

I write a lot to movie scores, since they’re good for not only helping get me in the mood I need for writing particular scenes (sad scene equals sad music, etc) but also for blocking out the rest of the world around me. Because I live in a college dorm, I always have neighbors and hallmates and friends going about, living their lives all around me. And that can be really distracting when I’m trying to focus on something. So: movie scores.

As a novel progresses, I find that I always end up getting attached to listening to one particular score–sometimes even just one song from it, on repeat–while writing. It’s funny because the movie that score is from could have absolutely nothing to do with my actual project, but the sound just makes the words flow somehow.

Here’s a list of the movie scores I’ve listened to for various novels. I definitely suggest checking them out, because they’re all beautiful.


1. Petra’s Driving School + Inception

I’ve mentioned before that my incomplete novel Petra’s Driving School was the precursor to Cadence. I absolutely COULD NOT work on that project without Inception (composed by the one and only Hans Zimmer) playing in the background. The story very much had a sort of desperate, mind-twisty feel to it, so I think that’s why I latched onto Inception so much with it. (Also, I’d just like to mention: Inception is one of my favorite scores EVER. It’s such beautiful, complicated music.) (Inception is also my favorite movie, so that might also have something to do with it.)


2. Dreamcatcher + Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

You’d think Dreamcatcher, which actually has something in common with Inception (dreams), would flow well with that score. Nope. I wrote most of this novel to the tune of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II by Alexandre Desplat.


3. Cadence + Titanic

Yeah, I really don’t know. I mean–Titanic (by James Horner) is a gorgeous, brilliant score. Another one of my favorites. But the music has Irish influences and incorporates the sounds of a ship (one of my favorite moments in the song above begins at around 6:03–when I listen to the violins in that part, it sounds exactly like what I think an icy cold shiver would). Cadence takes place almost entirely on land, in Chicago, no boats or icebergs in sight. But I guess just something about the starcrossed love story and the desperation imposed by feeling restricted by your lot in life appeals to me. Cadence has a teeny, tiny bit of those themes woven throughout it as well.


4. The End Where I Begin (first attempt) + Man of Steel

I really only ever listened to “Sent Here For a Reason” from Man of Steel (composed by Hans Zimmer) while working on the last version of my current NaNo novel, The End Where I Begin, during Camp NaNoWriMo in July. I’m not a big fan of the rest of the score, but that one song has such an inspiring, get-your-butt-to-work feel to it, so I’d play it on loop for hours at a time. It fit perfectly with the story I was trying to tell then. (Unfortunately, TEWIB just wasn’t working that way, so I had to abandon a lot of what I was doing with it in July and restart from scratch with the novel this month. It’s a much different story now. Hence Ender’s Game.)


So, those are some of the scores I’ve noveled to in the past. Other favorites include the scores from The Hunger Games, the Chronicles of Narnia movies, The Dark Knight trilogy, The Amazing Spider-Man (whenever I got tired of Titanic with Cadence, I’d switch over to this one since it’s similar but just enough different to, you know, be different), Star Trek (2009), the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tron Legacy, the song “Aurora” by Hans Zimmer (I do homework a lot to this one–I know, I’m a terrible person), the cover of “Bring Him Home” from Les Mis by ThePianoGuys (that was another major Dreamcatcher song), and more recently the score from season one of Once Upon a Time.

Do you like to write to music? If so, what kinds? Do you like listening to score music? What are some of your favorites?

day 3

Off to work on the Spanish essay due this week. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish it with enough time to actually write for a bit today!



Labor of Love

Today while doing/procrastinating from my homework, I’ve been listening a lot to “Labor of Love” from the STAR TREK (2009) movie score. This is because I woke up with it playing in my head–that exact song and scene on loop every time I closed my eyes–even though I haven’t watched STAR TREK in probably half a year.

It’s a sad but beautiful song, so I decided I might as well listen to it for real. But I finally just now, after an entire day of having it on in the background, realized why it resonates so much with me: It’s a song about surrendering something very important to you for something even more important.

I don’t really want to go into the details today, although maybe I will in a couple months once everything is definite and past and a layer of dust has settled over it all so it’s not quite as raw. But I did want you to know that I’m going through something noveling-related right now that feels a lot like this song. And while it’s hard, extremely hard, I know that the decisions I’m making today will be better for me in the long run. Even though they hurt right now, these are choices I can recover from, while the others lead to something that I would never forgive myself for.

Sometimes the easiest and hardest things can be the same for different reasons.

I haven’t been posting on social media as much lately, or talking to people as much in general, because I’ve been letting this Thing crowd out everything else in my life. I’ve been so focused on it, it’s become difficult to see the world through any other lens. And I’m sorry for doing that. I’m missing out on life–books and beautiful weather and friends–by doing that.

No more. For all I’ve thought about letting go, surrendering, it’s time I actually just did it.

Here is me saying goodbye to one smaller dream in order to allow myself to keep chasing a bigger one. Here is me committing a Labor of Love (gosh, that’s such a bad pun in the context of the movie).

Here is me saying that I love and believe in myself enough to let it go.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy from here on out, but maybe it’ll at least be easier. And that’s something I really, really want right now. That’s something I’m willing to work for.

I’m sorry if you can’t follow much of this–I know I’m being cryptic. But thank you, again and again and again, for all the support. I wouldn’t be able to do any of the wonderful things I get to do without you. And while I’ve hit a bit of a roadblock recently, that’s not to say that this is an end of any sort, except maybe the end of a chapter–a single, really lovely adventure–on my way to bigger and better noveling-related things.

There’s a difference between giving up and letting go. Today I’m doing the latter, with “Labor of Love” as my soundtrack–something sad but beautiful. Very, very beautiful.