Today we have a guest post from Sarah Beth Durst, whose new book, Chasing Power, is out now! Sarah has written in a variety of genres. Her books include Vessel, Drink Slay Love, Ice, and my personal favorite, The Lost. You can find an interview she did with Geek Girl when The Lost was published here.
I have tried to write in silence. Also on beaches and mountainsides. And in coffee shops, where writers are supposed to sweat over words while guzzling lattes.
Doesn’t work for me.
Wish it did. I like coffee shops. And beaches. And mountains. But there’s too much glare on my laptop screen outside, and as for coffee shops… I’m a terrible eavesdropper.
And as for writing in silence… nope. I can last a little while. Sometimes, I might do a really focused bit of revision that requires it. But most days, if there’s too much silence, the words freeze up. I start listening to the hum of refrigerator or the tick of the clock. Or worse, I start listening to that little critical voice inside every writer’s head that says, “Those words aren’t good enough.”
Sometimes that little voice is useful. You need it in revision. But when you’re still finding the story… you need a way to shut that voice up so you can get some actual words on the page. For me, that way is music. The critical part of my brain is easily distracted by music. Guess it likes to sing along, because once the music is on, then I am free to think and write.
I often choose music that matches the mood of my stories. For my epic desert fantasy, VESSEL, I listened to a lot of Native American flute music. To write DRINK, SLAY, LOVE (my vampire girl and were-unicorn novel), I had a whole playlist that included “People Are Strange” by The Doors, “They” by Jem, “Ramalama Bang Bang” by Roisin Murphy, and “Walkin On the Sun” by Smash Mouth.
For my newest YA novel, CHASING POWER, I didn’t use a specific playlist. CHASING POWER is an Indiana-Jones kind of adventure about a girl with telekinesis. Kayla is sixteen years old, uses humor as a defense mechanism, and has a loose grasp on the concept of personal property (in other words, she uses her telekinesis to pick pockets and shoplift). She listens to whatever music is on the radio. So that’s what I did.
A few of Kayla’s favorites:
“Best Day of My Life” by American Authors
“Cups” by Anna Kendrick
“Another Postcard” by Barenaked Ladies
“Bad Day” by Daniel Powter
“Carry On” by Fun
“La La La” by Naughty Boy, featuring Sam Smith
And here’s what I wrote while listening: http://www.sarahbethdurst.com/ChasingPowerexcerpt.htm
Thanks so much for listening/reading!