I’m always intrigued by other people’s playlists, and I’m especially interested in what people listen to when they write. I’m a creature of habit and always listen to the same playlists over and over when I’m writing.
I have my generic ‘book’ playlist that has about 20 songs on it. To the criteria of that list is quite simple; it has to be a great song that I love and I’m not going to get distracted from writing to change it. It also has to be of the a relaxing tempo, maybe with a nice tune, but definitely not too hectic. A few of the current playlisters are; Amy Macdonald, Pink Floyd, Florence and the Machine and the Foo Fighters.
I discovered the power of music and writing when I was writing my first novel, the Thailand Fling. Surprisingly it is set in Thailand (I know, shocker) and was about two girls who were backpacking. Think of an Emily Barr novel take away the dark side of it and add a Freya North novel, and you’d be pretty close to it. Not having the finances to be able to do a separate research trip, I was working off my travel diaries I’d written when I’d backpacked there a few years earlier.
The thing I found most helpful in getting my head back into Thailand was listening to music. I filled my playlist with loads of Jack Johnson, Bob Dylan, Gomez and my holiday songs. Just one little listen to Outkast ‘Hey ya’ and I was instantly transported back to dancing on a rickety table at a full moon party.
It was amazing what a difference the music made to putting my head in the right place to write. It then got me thinking that if a song could remind me of a place, then surely it could work for emotions.
I now have certain songs that I play on a loop when writing a really emotional scene. When my characters need to be suddenly over an ex and all feisty then Shakira’s ‘Don’t Bother’ is looped. When there is some sort of heart wrenching scene of past love that isn’t going to work Timbaland’s ‘Apologize’ works well or you can’t beat Skunk Anasie’s Hedonism. For happier stuff, I’ve got Black Eyed Peas ‘I Gotta Feeling’ and if there is a little bit of romancing then (and this is def not true of real life) I put on UB40.
And it really works. Just don’t talk to me after I’ve put on my angry tunes…!
The only downside to all this play listing malarkey is I can’t ever just play my top 25 most played songs on iTunes, as they’re always my looped songs. When you’re getting ready for a night out you hardly want a rollercoaster of emotions they produce…