I know a lot of writers who post their writing soundtracks for certain novels – I think it’s so interesting to see what people are listening to, what kind of music gets them in the writing mood.
For me, I have a process that seems to work really well in creating the perfect “soundtrack” for each novel.
For every manuscript I’ve worked on, I’ve first created a massive playlist that I listen to during initial drafting. I choose albums with the right vibe, message, or esthetic for the time period and characters I know I’ll be writing about. My first novel, about small town plagued by a serial killer who may or may not be a vampire, had a playlist full of low-key, soulful (some of it eery) music, like Neko Case, Duffy, and Vampire Weekend. The second novel, about a girl who spends the summer in Oxford, had some Brit pop mixed in – Robbie Williams, the Beatles. The manuscript I’m working on now is a fantasy/scifi, and as such has a lot more instrumental stuff.
As I write, when specific songs start standing out each time they play, I add them to a smaller WIP “soundtrack”. And that’s what I listen to during revisions.
And not just during revisions. I listen to it in the shower, in the car, when I’m sending emails. For the length of time it takes me to revise, I listen to the same 2+ hours of music over and over again. The benefit? I associate the music so closely with the WIP that the songs immediately take me into the world of the story. So when I’m driving or in the shower, I’m thinking about my characters, their motivations, places where I need to polish, clarify, rework.
The current WIP’s soundtrack is particularly fun, I’ve found…it’s a mixture of cool instrumental music that I imagine playing as the soundtrack of the “movie”…and songs with words that evoke certain emotions (longing being the primary one – says something about the nature of the story, I guess) and help me sink into my characters’ heads and hearts.
Here are a few of my favorite songs on the “To Find You” soundtrack:
Steaming – Sarah McLachlan
Prophecy – Harem
Run for It – Delerium + Leigh Nash
I’m on Fire – Bruce Springsteen
Fake Empire – The National
Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
Hands All Over – Maroon 5
Passione – Nicos
I’ll Be Your Lover, Too – Van Morrison
Love the Way You Lie – Eminem feat. Rihanna
In the Shadow of Life – Niyaz
Halo – Beyonce
Climb On (A Back That’s Strong) – Shawn Colvin
Call and Answer – Barenaked Ladies
I Run – Rosie Thomas
How do YOU pick the music for your novel soundtracks? Do you have a system that you stick with every time? Or do you find music distracting to the creative process?