The most important thing about writing a book is, of course, to write the book. That is: to write. That is: butt-in-chair-fingers-on-keys.*
But it doesn't hurt to have a few tricks up your sleeve to convince you to get said butt and said fingers doing their thing when you're sure it'd be easier to climb Kilamanjero than to get your heroine to the end of her scene. And one of the tricks I've come up with is making myself a playlist on iTunes for each book.
I put in songs that put me in the same mood I hope the book evokes in my readers. So I have a very different soundtrack for, say, my historical romance and my sci-fi adventure.
I think it works because art feeds on art, and all of it is a long, long conversation. Listening to music prior to composing story is like eavesdropping for a second or two before you "hem, hem!" in your throat to let your friends know you've arrived at the party. It reminds you about what's going on with this circle of people and puts you in the mindset to discuss their fascinations with them.
So here's the current playlist for my historical romance (which has a strong theological theme running through it - hence the hymns):
-Arise My Love - Michael Card
-Ave Maria - Josh Groban
-Dela - Johnny Clegg and Savuka
-Do You Dream of Me - Michael W. Smith
-Hope to Carry On - Caedmon's Call
-How Firm a Foundation - Fernando Ortega
-I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers
-In Christ Alone - The Newsboys
-La Pared - Shakira
-Over the Hills and Far Away - John Tams/Dominic Muldowney
-Rogue's March - John Tams/Dominic Muldowney
-Springtime Indiana - Sandra McCracken
-That Where I Am, There You May Also Be - Rich Mullins
-There Is Power in the Blood - Fernando Ortega
-Thy Mercy - Caedmon's Call
-Walk in the Dark - Wayne Watson
-When She's Near - Fiction Family
Of course, not every song works for every scene! "La Pared" is great for the scene when my heroine is afraid the hero has been killed by French soldiers and is facing a life alone without him. "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" for when we switch to the hero's point-of-view and he's fighting his way back to her. You don't want to confuse the mood of those two scenes. :)
But all in all, I'm really happy with the playlist. And tweaking it helps me tweak what I'm going for in the story. And listening the songs helps me remember what I'm aiming for as I write.
I use different playlists for stuff like housecleaning and exercising too. Anyone else view iTunes** not just as a toy, but as a tool? And what do you use it for?
Peace of Christ to you,
*I finished another chapter today: joy for me! but sadness for my heroine. Poor girl. I swear I will give her a happy ending, but I don't think she'd believe me just now.
**Or other mp3-playing device. My husband would faint if he thought I thought iTunes was the only thing out there.