Music as Muse


First, this blog writer never assumes that what is espoused here is the be all, end all for all people. On the contrary, I espouse what works for me–for the moment, when I am in the mood and not being lazy.

That said, I thought I’d share how my muse works to spin a tale from music. I use YouTube links for songs because:

  •  it’s easy to access for everyone
  •  it’s easy to replay the songs over and over
  • lyrics are provided
  •  the YouTube channel deals with the copyright issues

I listen to a song three or four times in a row. The first couple of times through I read the lyrics as the song plays. Inspiration can come from either tune or lyrics.

If I know the song, I sing, too. The point is to turn off the conscious part of my brain  and turn on the subconscious part. I integrate as many senses (hearing, feeling, speaking, dancing) while listening as I can. The more visceral the music experience becomes, the more likely I am to get images in my head.

(This ritual beats soaking my bare feet in a tub of fresh chicken blood under the desk; I read one famous author does that when writing.)

Then the writing starts. More than half the time I get halfway through the story and hit a wall about a conclusion. I repeat the listening ritual, and the end comes. I write it.

As I’ve said innumerable times, I have an active imagination. In my subconscious mind, stories are everywhere, under every leaf, around every door jamb, behind every melody. In any given day, a complete novel floats through my head. The problem is my memory doesn’t hold a candle to my imagination. So in the time it takes me to say, “that’s a cool story,” it’s gone for good.

Oh, well. I guess I can’t have everything.

Right now I am enjoying writing short shorts because I can capture them on paper before the music drifts away.

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3 responses »

  1. Having a mind like a sieve, I can relate to y;our memory dilemma. Ideas seem to come at the most inappropriate times — like in the middle of the night or during cocktails. I’ve tried writing quick notes to jog my memory, but in the morning, the notes make absolutely no sense at all.

  2. Ha! Great minds DO think alike, in that I read the lyrics as I listen to them as well! Never do I sing along though as, well, as it’s just best for all involved that way.

    The one thing I would add, however, is that I never watch the accompanying video and – if other writers are taking the same prompt – read other submissions until I have my idea down. My mind is too prone to thievery…

    • So cute, you are.

      I am really struggling with my story from the Live song. The raw and primal images so far are of evil. I am telling my brain “find something else.” There’s much in life that is raw and primal.

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