Spark Your Creativity with the 5 Senses: Listen!

Dhoom 2 album movieThis is #2 in a series of articles on Creativity and Inspiration for Writers. Tips shared here are inspired by my ebook, Overcome Writer’s Block, and will soon also be part of a course at We Write Books community.

How can we be a better writers?

We can step away from the words and dive into our primal sense of listening!

What better way to change a mood? Find a mood? Reach a state of ecstasy? Calm down? Rev up?

When I was 13 years old, I had to write a story for English class, a suspense story, no less! Mrs. Maffei was assigning us some cool and challenging writing assignments. And this one was no different. I had no idea what to write about, though I did know where to start: my local public library and my daily after school hang out.

I’d already taken to flipping through the record collection (remember those?!) as a way to relax and take a break from homework. So I turned to them again for inspiration. I’d put on an album, classical, or rock, I don’t even remember, then just start writing whatever formed in my mind inspired by the music.

After a few moments of writitng and listening, the first few times the image peetered out. So I’d just walk across the carpeted hall and riffle through the stack for another handful of records.

Finally, I hit upon a song, I think it was some kind of dramatic classical, and a story spilled out of me and didn’t stop. A suspense story about a woman who gets murdered in her shower at midnight on New Year’s Eve during a party. And no one hears her scream.

I know. Real orginal. I was 13. It was my first story. And it flew out of . Flew.

I knew then and there that I was good at writing. And liked it. And would pursue it. Somehow some way.

FAST FORWARD 30 years later. I still use music to put myself in the mood to write and edit. To get inspired and to just plain feel.

What music do you like to listen to?! And what kind for what purposes?

If you’re curious about more tips to get you writing check out my e-book, Overcome Writer’s Block, and check out journaling tools at We Write Books community.

Happy Writing!

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  • Kat Duncan says:

    I can only listen to instrumental music while I write. Lyrics get in my way. But usually I listen to music, then I turn off the music and write. Funny thing, I usually listen to music that fits my mood so that I can get the mood “out of the way” and clear the way for writing what I need to write. Great post, Beth!

  • VJ says:

    Dhoom II, good choice! I love to write listening to music. But sometimes when I listen to music, I see images.

    Believe it or not, I can write with the television on, and pick up images, words, movement, and ideas.


  • Beth Barany says:

    Kat, Thanks! That’s a fun way to use music, to clear the mood. Great idea!

    VJ, Isn’t DHOOM II great?! Love dancing to it too. Moving that bootie! I can write in front of the TV too, in fact watching the TV helped inspired me to simply get writing the other night when I wanted to write this post. Thanks for stopping by!

  • I listen to all kinds of music – jazz, blues, folk,oldies rock,classical, country,even hip-hop and rap (you can thank my kids to that) but when I write, I write in silence.

    I listen to music mostly in my car.

  • Robin Moore says:

    I prefer no music while I’m writing. The sounds of birds outside, the horse neighing, etc., are enough for me. However, if I’m working in a noisy cafe or similar setting, I don’t mind people talking around me. Music while I’m driving or working around the house is good–you know those times when I’m thinking about my story & not actually writing. Although lately I’ve been listening to Mandarin language cd’s while I drive. That helps with background chatter for my Shanghai story. (Yes, I know they speak Shanghaineise.)

  • Beth Barany says:

    Margaret, I hear you! Sometimes silence is the best for writing. And no hubby bugging me!

    Robin, What fun, listening to language CDs to help you for your Shanghai story!

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