"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, November 29, 2010


Do you find your mind wandering while writing?
Are you struggling to connect with your story?
Do daily distractions like the heat clicking on or the dryer running clutter your mind?

Well, we here at the place (being K. A. Holt, Jessica Lee Anderson , E. Kristin Anderson, Madeline Smoot, and sometimes members Mari Mancusi and Jenny Ziegler) have the answers you need.

We give you ten things to listen to while writing:

1) What you think your characters would listen to
If you're writing historical, maybe this is music from the era.
If you're writing futuristic stuff, then maybe it's techno trance music.
(Actually techno trance is cool no matter what, but this is just my opinion and not that of the greater group.)

2) Hanson
Okay, I'm throwing E. Kristin Anderson a bone on this one. I couldn't name a single Hanson song, but she loves them so much, she even has this picture. And she wrote this ode of love to herself concerning them.

Go, Emily! Rock Hanson for us!

3) Big Foot vocal recordings
This one's for you, Jessica Lee Anderson.
But in all seriousness, our group seems to love Cryptids, so anything that sounds like a Wookie is going to be just fine.
Aliens antenna recordings work in a pinch, too.

4) Really loud stuff (like Marilyn Manson)
Can you guess which member of the group prefers this? If you guessed our resident head-banger K. A. Holt, then you guessed right.

Don't let her cute little smile fool you.

5) Gregorian Chant
This one is all me. And no matter how many times I mention it, I can't seem to convert anyone to the dark side.
*Last minute update: Jessica Lee Anderson claims to have listened to her CHANT CD so much she wore it out. Welcome to the dark side, Jessica :)

6) Sesame Street
This is especially applicable if you are trying to appease a child

Elmo rules!

7) 80s music from The Place
And it doesn't have to be our place. It can be your own place. And it can even be customized to suit the ambiance of the place where you happen to be. The key thing here is that it has to be copacetic.

8) Ocean /rainstorm or something else to calm you
Yeah, again, I got debated on this one. But I'm not going to argue because cool things like the Battlestar Galactica or Star Wars or even (you knew it was coming) Star Trek soundtrack were thrown out into the mix.

Because space is the final frontier...

9) Screaming children or barking dogs or wailing cats
If you've written with this in the background, then you know it's a great exercise in learning concentration. And anything you practice at, you will get better at. Right?
If you find this doesn't work for you, please keep (6) in mind.

10) Your critique partners telling you how talented you are
There should never be a shortage of this. It's by far the most important sound to hear while writing. Or while procrastinating. Or while basically doing anything. So go tell your critique partner how awesome they are, okay?


Elizabeth Mueller said...

Wow, you rock! Thank you for the links and wonderful ideas! <3

~Elizabeth :)

PJ Hoover said...

You're welcome, Elizabeth! It's the whole group mentality that rocks. If you don't have a writing group, I highly recommend it :)
Take care!

vivian said...

haha. You guys crack me up. I need to write in total silence, though it's not uncommon to hear my children in the background. Think I need to put together a playlist.

E.J. Wesley said...

Dog barking. CHECK

Hanson? ROTFL

They ARE from my home state, however, so maybe I should dig them back out. I love reading about the things that inspire others to create.

Great post!


Tina Lynn said...

#9 is my arch-nemesis. I have a dog that thinks we are being invaded by rocks and they all must be destroyed. Thus, he barks at rocks in the backyard all day. But who can blame him, he thinks we are all in serious danger.

Colene Murphy said...

bahahaha! I love the crit partner one. I like ambient stuff, personally, but I might have to give big bird the ol college try or some of the others! Thanks for the suggestions and tueday morning funny!

Kelly said...

LOL on Hanson!
I can't play music with lyrics while I write because I tend to sing along.
I like to write in somewhat quiet (so only when kids are at school or in bed!)

PJ Hoover said...

Vivian, is that a playlist of your children in the background? I'd love to hear it :)

E.J. it looks like you have the basics down. Good luck digging the Hanson out.

Tina, your dog sounds like a hoot! I could see him being used in a book. And rocks can be kind of scary, right?

PJ Hoover said...

You're welcome, Colene! The ambient works the best for me, too. Good luck!

Kelly, I am right there with you. Lyrics only work for me in a public place where I have to tune out everything. unless they're in Latin (like Chant).

MG Higgins said...

I can't seem to listen to music while I write, but I think I could really get into the Gregorian Chant. And I just happen to have that CD. Hmm....

PJ Hoover said...

I hope it works great for you, MG! It's about CHANT time for me, too.

Kelly H-Y said...

Oh my goodness, LOVED this! I can only write to instrumental music ... no words, or I start singing! :-)(though I would make an exception for the sounds of crit partners praising my talents! ha!).

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, Kelly! I love no words, too, and only can make exceptions in rare cases.

Miriam S. Forster said...

My dad had that exact chant CD! I never thought of writing to it though...

Thanks for the list!

PJ Hoover said...

LOL, Miriam! I borrowed my Dad's Chant CD, too! There's something really funny about that.