How Music Inspires Me To Write (And How It Can Help You Too)

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What inspires you to write? For those who haven’t picked up a pen since high school or tertiary education, what inspires you to do the things you love?

This isn’t a new question to this blog. Back in February of 2015, I wrote about how one shouldn’t simply expect to beat writer’s block. It’s not something simply beaten by inspirational quotes and the Perfect Mood. You shouldn’t just force yourself to write or sing or dance or act or design a video game. If you your hobby feels like a chore, you’re less likely to want to do it. Why are you even doing it? Even earlier, in September of 2013, I asked the big question: What inspires you? I told my 2013 WordPress readers that you should work out what makes you tick. What inspires you to write? Is it the soothing sounds of your cat lapping water from his bowl, or the disconcerting calmness of Resident Evil save room music?

Even if you don’t know exactly what makes you inspired, learning so will help you become a better writer.

If you don’t know what inspires you—the crux of why you write—you’ll make excuses not to write. That action romance you started back in 2007 will still be on that 256 megabyte flash drive, hidden away in your cluttered mess of a junk drawer, and by the time you finally get around to Konmari-ing that rubbish, you’ll have forgotten what USB is even an acronym for.

You don’t have to have mojo to write. Those bullshit inspirational quotes will do you no good; that perfectly organised Kmart/Walmart/IKEA/Officeworks-designed office you’ve made for yourself will mean nothing. For example, I don’t even write at a desk. To be a writer, one doesn’t need any fancy tools. You just need to be able to sit down in front of a laptop, computer, typwriter or wads of paper, and be able to belt out something remotely resembling fiction. No “aspiring” writers allowed here.

But inspiration helps. And it doesn’t have to involve an exhausting ten hour pre-writer’s ritual, where you have to howl at the moon seven times consecutively, while belting out the moves to the Macarena, and drinking exactly two-and-a-half cups of low-fat-no-fat-full-cream-high-calcium-high-protein-soy-light-skim-omega-3-high-calcium-with-Vitamin-D-and-folate-or-extra-dollop coffee before being able to write a single sentence.

No. Sometimes it just involves a little bit of music.

Ever since the good old days of procrastinating stressful Year 12 homework by writing full novels, I relied simply on good music to write. I would lie on my bed, or very rarely sit at a desk, open up my laptop to Microsoft Word, and then open up iTunes (and later YouTube) in a separate tab and simply find the correct music. Sometimes this would even help me out with homework.

It all started with In Love Again by Rogue Traders, an Australian band. There was something about that song, something about the synth, some sense of nostalgia, that made me want to just write and write. I would set that song to repeat, mix it in sometimes with a bunch of other songs, and write to my heart’s content. While most of the stuff from that year was not salvageable, I’m still proud of the creative work I produced.

Eight years later, and we fast forward to 2018. Much like the example a few paragraphs ago, I found an old novel fragment on a portable hard-drive. Do as I say, not as I do. Here there were eleven chapters; eleven chapters that, while barely readable, were still salvageable. I remembered the story clearly: I’d recently watched American Psycho, and the movie had an impact on me. My aim was to modernise American Psycho for the current generation; to show the experience of a young man driven to the brink of insanity, and to see how we as a society would respond to it (insert We live in a society joke here). Since Year 12, I’d gone on to actually read the novel of American Psycho, way back in 2014. More ideas formed in my mind. But I still delayed starting Chapter Twelve. Much like you’ve probably experienced, I procrastinated. I thought I should be writing at a desk. I can’t be much of a writer if I write on an ancient, battered recliner, can I? I should be sitting at a desk, with a glass of whisky and a cup of coffee and a trenchcoat and ten bookshelves filled to the brim with books.

This time, it was a song I heard by accident. I heard this song, and decided to Shazam it (Yes, people still use Shazam). It Ain’t Me by Selena Gomez and Kygo. The chorus set something off in my writer’s brain. Bowery…whiskey neat…grateful…I’m so grateful. I set the song on a loop on YouTube, and re-edited those eleven chapters to be readable and to relate to the (many, many) daydreams of future chapters that had been floating around in my head. Nearly a year later, and I’m twenty-four chapters in, not too far from the finish line, and I have a story I am truly excited to share with the world.

Creativity breeds creativity. And this one creative endeavour by someone halfway around the world (music) helped with my creativity (writing). It doesn’t even need to be music. You could be inspired by a scene in a TV show, movie, or video game. A specific scene could set something off in your mind, and you’re inclined to put it down into words. It doesn’t even need to be good music. I’ve written to Nickelback plenty of times. It doesn’t even need to have lyrics. Steve Jablonsky, composer to The Sims 3, composed some beautiful, inspiring pieces. Why not muzak? Many times I’ve simply written to silence; a spur of the moment thing.

What I’m trying to say is that you don’t need a lot to be able to do what you love. Music is just one of the many things that help support what I love, and it might also help support you with what you love. To summarise, hopefully this blog post will help you realise that it doesn’t take a lot to be inspired. It doesn’t take a lot to be a creative. At risk of sounding like one of those bullshit inspirational quotebusters: Creativity comes from within! Just do what you love.

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Yeah, yeah. I’ll just go back to listening to It Ain’t Me on repeat for the next couple of months. I’ll let you know when the remaining chapters are done! If I can do it, you can too…

 

Have there been any specific songs that have helped you with your creative endeavours? What about TV, movies, books, or video games? Any specific scenes? Let me know in the comments below!

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