What turns you on?

Come on guys, the world is supposed to end today and you’ve got your whole head in the gutter. For shame, I say.

I’m talking about what turns you on while you write. Perhaps I trapped you with my phrasing, but you’ll have to forgive me. It is the holidays, after all. Anyway, I’ve asked this question a couple of times via Facebook & Twitter and the answers I’ve received are all but unanimous: MUSIC.

No tunes past this point!

No tunes past this point!

This makes me question myself. I can’t work to music. Stop gasping. It’s true. I’m actually not even a music person. I don’t have to know the latest artists. I don’t have to download their albums. I don’t have to go to their concerts. I’ve actually only been to one concert in my whole life. Hey! Didn’t I tell you to stop gasping!

So what have I been writing my debut novel, Blood in the Paint, to? TV. Television. The boob tube. (Do people still call it the “boob tube?” Probably not. The “boob sleek panel” maybe? Doesn’t have the same ring to it. I’ll move on.) I have to write to the TV on in the background. It can’t be something I’ve never seen before though. It’s usually reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond, Law & Order, or America’s Next Top Model. If the TV isn’t on, I struggle. I’ve tried writing by the river near our house and at local eateries, but it’s just not the same. (I can edit in those venues though, but that’s not the topic at hand) When I’m the bookstore job, I am forced to play Pandora, but I keep it so low it’s simply there to destroy the silence. Writing to silence is worse than writing to music.

This whole revelation made me think about what I can do to music. The list isn’t very lengthy:

  1. Cook. I like to cook to music. Sometimes. If I’m baking a very complicated dessert, for instance, a brief jam-out session could cause me to add the eggs all at once instead of one at a time and when you read complicated baking recipes they make that seem like a really big deal.
  2. Clean. I don’t like to clean to music, but if it’s on, I won’t vehemently oppose it. The problem is, if I’m sweeping, my rhythmic twirling could disturb my dust pile. Or if I’m vacuuming, dancing and prancing could cause me to trip on the cord and die. I guess that could probably happen without the music. Hmm…That’s it. Cleaning leads to dying. Gonna avoid that even more from now on.
  3. Dress. If I’m going somewhere where I actually want to doll it up a bit, music can be inspiring. But too much Gangnam Style could tire me out before I even get where I’m going and I could end up changing back into my pajamas and going to bed at 8:30. I’m just joshing you guys! I hate Gangnam Style.

So that’s it. I don’t even play music while I’m in the shower. I don’t even sing while I’m in the shower. Good heavens, I’m a weirdo.

Are you one of the millions of writers that works best to music? Or are you one of the four writers in the world that keeps the TV on in the background? If you are, we should totally get together and come up with a secret handshake or something.

37 thoughts on “What turns you on?

  1. I like quiet when I write, but I like listening to music for inspiration for my characters. Some songs are just like them. Oh–and I clean to music. I have it blaring so I can hear it all through the house, the neighbors can hear it…heck, my kids can hear it when they get off the bus. 🙂

  2. Quiet only. Can’t write if ANYTHING is around to distract me. I don’t get how people write in a coffee shop. Way to much to look at and be distracted by. Music or TV? No way. Way too ADD for that! =)

  3. Lol. Wow you are like the one human being on earth who doesn’t care for music! lol. No, I used to be able to write to music or t.v. or anything. I was skilled at writing when I was in class so I pretty much adapted to be able to tune out anything but as I get older I find noise tends to piss me off. I can listen to music low, or nothing, sometimes ambient sounds like rain and thunder, I love that. I LOVE LOVE LOVE music, but I rarely buy an artists full album, I don’t know many people who do what with iTunes, you buy your favorite tracks and ignore the ones you don’t care for. Or at least, I do. The last full album I bought was MDNA (Madonna) and ONLY because it was her. Hehe.

  4. The world must be silent when I write. Silence, please. My husband loves the TV on for background noise. The first thing he does when he walks in a room is turn on the TV. He often leaves said room immediately. Leaving me to turn off the TV. He then walks back into the room and says, “Hey! Who turned of the TV?”

  5. I have music on in the background for just about everything. But NOT for writing. I need it quiet. I’ve tried writing with music because other writers suggested I should. It was worth a try, but I didn’t like it. I want my writing silent. 🙂

    • Yeah, a lot of other writers suggested music for writing to me too. Truth is, if I write with music on, I start typing the lyrics instead of my thoughts. And if I try classical or something without lyrics I start “conducting” with my pen. Smh…

  6. I can write with just about anything going on in the background. I have music playing in my head, usually because I can’t play it when I’m writing beause someone else will complain! The stuff I listen to would curl most people’s teeth anyway. It’s way too heavy or too weird for people my age (61). Mostly metal, hard rock, psychedelic and just plain odd stuff. Being a musician, it’s part of my life. I understand where it isn’t part of yours. It’s just not how you tick. For me, I can write in complete silence or complete chaos. I have my own soundtrack in my head if I can’t supply one for real. Rock on!

  7. I usually write while listening to something. At home, it’s either music or a movie. I often have good ideas while I’m driving, so I tend to associate the idea with whatever song I’m listening to (I don’t like driving in silence, so there’s always something playing quietly). Then I end up listening to that song a lot because the idea first developed when that song was playing.

    While I’m working at the movie theater, there are four TVs playing only commercials in the lobby. At least a fourth of what’s in my writing notebook was written while listening to those. And I’ll write while someone’s watching TV or a movie in the same room.

  8. There’s only one track I can listen to while writing, and that’s Midnight City by M83. Put it on repeat, leave it for an hour, listen to it 12 or 13 times. Wonderful.

    But mostly I have this open when I’m writing: http://rain.simplynoise.com/. 80% intensity, rare thunder. Perfect. Blocks out all the distracting ambient noise without adding its own distractions, like lyrics, guitar solos, or Tyra Banks telling people they’re not going to be America’s Next Top Model.

  9. Very fun post Jordanna! You had me LOL’ing as always (did I really just say that??) But yeah writing to music is such an inspiration. Many times I end up writing in silecne, and wow that can be like carrying a 100lb weight up a mountain, but it gets done, somehow. That said, how much farther do you have with your book?

    • Hi William! I’m flattered that you often enjoy my posts. Thank you!

      Another person voting for silence. So I guess it’s music, silence, everything else, tv. Haha. In that order. I’m officially a weirdo.

      Thanks for asking about my book! Blood in the Paint is almost finished, just a handful of chapters left on the first draft. The prequel novella, Blood in the Past, goes to editor in February. Hoping for a late March release.

  10. This is incredible. I love this site.
    Hmm … I personally enjoy background noise when I write. I find myself with songs on repeat, actually. For me, it’s not really about trends, though. I don’t really care about concerts – I, too have been to maybe one. For me, it’s about the mood the music sets, and it keeps me in this frame of mine that seems to be … I don’t know .. in alignment with the scene? But generally, I can write anytime. In the dark/quiet when I can’t sleep (using my phone), with the kids running around, riding in the car – any random moment. But my favorite way to write, is with my headphones. Which is rare, because I have the little ones. Love this post.

    • After re-reading your question and taking music out of the equation, what turns me on while I write?

      Truth be told, it’s a combination of things. The thrill of the inspiration, the thrill of getting it down in bytes and bits, the thrill of having it flow down into a viable form. The thrill of seeing it form into something tangable, something I can put a finger on instead of something fleeting that will distort and I’ll either forget or it will change into something else.

      It’s the thrill of creation. Creating a big lie, or creating a big truth. Either one is fine with me.

      There’s no high better than that.

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