NaNo Day 8: Writing Playlist

We won the game yesterday! Also I got a picture with the Michigan Storm Trooper: 

And it made it up on the Jumbotron!

#FifteenSecondsOfFame

 

Altogether, a very cool time yesterday. (Literally, when you consider the fact I was shivering so hard by the end of the game that my body ached like I’d just done a hard workout.)

I don’t have much time to write today, thanks to two meetings, some family stuff, and the homework I’ve been putting off since Thursday. But I’m going to try to get at least my scheduled 2k in and maybe I’ll magically even catch up a little more as well? I’m starting the day at 10,500 words, after writing about 1.5k yesterday, so I am slowly heading in the right direction. But this NaNoWriMo continues to be a hard one.

On the upside, it’s been pretty easy to find music that’s easy to write this novel to. So: I’ve put together a bit of a playlist.

Without further ado:

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Mozart’s Requiem

As I mentioned in this Book Creators post, we’re learning “Requiem” in my choir class this semester. The piece and the story behind it are both so eerie and powerful, and I’ve been using them a lot for inspiration.

The Great Gatsby (2013) Film Score

I’m not a fan of this adaptation of The Great Gatsby, but I do really love its score. Composer Craig Armstrong really captures how the story is all about desperation and bittersweet sadness and want. These are some of the things I’m also using to guide Time Travel Heist Story, and listening to this score always gets me in the right mood.

When I’m not actively writing, but just trying to get into the right head space, I also listen to a lot of, like, more normal music. A few examples:

Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful”

Pretty obvious one, but this song (for obvious reasons) captures the same kinds of emotions as The Great Gatsby‘s score. Also, Lana Del Rey’s voice is haunting and absolutely lovely.

Ellie Goulding’s “The Writer”

My NaNo focuses on three friends and this song applies to all three of them in different ways. They’re all desperate for the others’ attention and to be understood and valued for who they are. Ellie Goulding captures that kind of desperation really well here.

Alesso’s “Heroes (we could be)”

This song’s a little more upbeat, but still very full of that longing feeling. (After all, it’s “we could be heroes.”) It captures the more positive notes of this MS really well.

David Guetta and Sia’s “Titanium”

Clearly I have a thing for the music of 2011. Also hero-related songs.

This song is kind of angry and amped up and confident, and it fits what I’d like my characters to become well.

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Do you write to music, or use it to get into the right mood for writing? Do you have anything specific you’ve been listening to for your NaNoWriMo project? Wanna share?

Goal for Today: 2,000 + 2,000 (from Friday) + 1,500 (from Sunday)

Overall Goal: 15,000

Current Word Count: 10,534

~Julia

Wordy Wednesday: On Playlists

The one problem with being in Europe for so long (you know, outside of being away from my dog) is that because SO MUCH is always happening, it’s impossible to keep up with it all.

Like I had an amazing trip to London over the weekend, during which we saw Richard III with Martin Freeman (he was AMAZING); toured the National Gallery; got dinner with my fabulous writing friend Shelby, who’d I’d never met in person before (read her blog here); got hit on in the weirdest way by French guys at a bar; visited Platform 9 3/4 twice (different people got their pictures taken at different times); visited the Sherlock Holmes Museum (*cough* Gift Shop) (the line for the actual museum unfortunately was too long); spent a fairly significant amount of time hanging out in Trafalgar Square; and finally had an incredible time going through the Harry Potter set tour again.

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Then Monday, my final project for my class was due and class ended and I CAN’T BELIEVE MY CLASS IS OVER and I finally endured my turn to sit at High Table during our last formal Monday night dinner.

Then yesterday a group of us trekked through the countryside for an hour to reach an amazing pub, where we ate out in the misty rain and picked apples and toured some tents that were borderline Weasley. Then I spent a couple hours walking the nature paths in my college and then we went to a rooftop bar to watch the sun go down above the city and then we watched Pride and Prejudice in the student rec room.

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And today we went to Bath, where we toured Bath Abbey and the actual Roman baths and saw the Royal Crescent and got afternoon tea at the Pump Room. Then when we got back, a couple friends and I got some really good mac and cheese (a true feat in England) at a pub then went over to the Eagle and Child, where we spent a couple hours playing Scrabble and ERS.

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And now I’m sitting here in my room and I only have a couple days left before my programme’s done and I’m not ready to leave. I am not ready at all*.

If you ever have the opportunity to study abroad, DO IT. Do whatever it takes to be able to do it. But also be aware that you are likely to fall in love with a place you can’t keep.

We’ve been our own little world the past five weeks, the forty or so people involved in my programme. It’s going to be weird seeing them out-of-context once we’re all back at Michigan (and even weirder, and way worse, not having those who aren’t Michigan students around anymore).

But anyway anyway anyway: This post is supposed to be a Wordy Wednesday, not me vomiting emotions all over you. The winning option for this week is writing process, so here we go.

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This past summer, Birdy came out with a song called “Wings.”

Something about it felt so perfect for that time of year and life, I basically listened to it endlessly during the last month before fall semester began. Now whenever I hear it–whether I’m in Michigan or Oxford–it takes me straight back to that time. The sun is hot on my face, legs curled beneath me on a kitchen chair while Sammy snores by the windows and my fingers trip over my old laptop’s keyboard. Revision notes lay across the table before me and the last bite of a strawberry Edy’s Fruit Bar melts against the roof of my mouth.

Just like “Wings” so perfectly takes me back to the end of summer 2013, I also have songs that get me absolutely, perfectly in the mood for writing certain characters or settings or plot points.

It’s important to have things that do this for you, because sometimes you’re going to need to work on a story, or part of a story, that you’re not feeling. For you, it might be a matter of eating a certain food or sitting in a certain place (I have a friend who has a hard time working unless she’s drinking hot cocoa while snuggled up in bed with at least three blankets). For me, it’s definitely music.

Music is magic. It’s a time machine and a device to hop between universes and realities.

So: on playlists.

For a novel I’m working on right now, I’ve had albums I’ve listened to while writing, and songs I’ve listened to while revising, and one particular song that always gets me in the mood for the story overall. But I recently ran into the problem that I needed music to listen to while thinking through my protagonist’s character arc (because this is the sort of thing you have to deal with on long bus rides through the Welsh countryside). I needed a playlist that felt distinctly like the sort of music Protag would rock out to, but also wouldn’t be so distracting that I couldn’t zone out and think about writing-related stuff while listening to it.

So, time to make yet another playlist for la novela.

I chose the music based on a few factors:

1.) What I was making the playlist for. If it’s a brainstorming or revising playlist, chances are you can use more “distracting” music than if you’re putting together a writing playlist. Or at least that’s how it is for me. (I rarely can write to music with lyrics, but I can read and think perfectly fine with it on in the background.)

Because this was simply a brainstorming playlist and I wanted to fill it with music Protag would like, I was able to choose a lot of music with lyrics, which was nice considering, you know, most teenagers don’t go around listening to orchestrations in their free time.

2.) How long I wanted the playlist to be. If you want something you can pop on for five minutes to get in the mood for writing a certain scene, chances are you don’t want a playlist that takes forty five minutes to put you in that mind space.

The nice thing about brainstorming playlists is that they can really be any length. The longer, the better. This one’s twenty one songs right now and runs for about an hour and a half; long enough I’m not likely to get sick of the music, but also concise enough I can get in Protag’s head within the first couple songs and don’t need to listen to the entire thing if I don’t want or don’t have the time to.

3.) And, of course, the ultimate purpose of the playlist. More than anything, you want to choose songs that are going to do the job of getting you in the right frame of mind.

My protag’s the type of person who’d have pretty average, mainstream taste in music, so I chose lots of pop and soft rock for her. Think Adele, the Script, and OneRepublic mostly. For variety, I threw in a little country and indie-sounding songs. It’s a mixture of slower, softer songs and angsty, high energy ones.

A sampling:

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What are your tips for getting in the mood to work? Do you make playlists too?

Heads up that I’m going to be on vacation the next couple weeks, so it’s the Return of the Guests Posts! Treat our guest writers well and there might be a treat in it for you once things have settled down a little after Europe. (I get back to the States just in time to move into my apartment for fall semester, so who knows when things will have settled down a lot. But hopefully a little will be enough to run a giveaway.) (WAIT GIVEAWAY, WHO SAID THAT?)

Thanks for reading!

 

~Julia

*AT. ALL.

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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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!

 

~Julia