Road to Indie: Getting in the Zone

Everyone has their own way of doing things, and writers are no exception. If you were to ask ten different writers what kind of environment would be ideal for their writing, you would probably get ten different answers.

“I like to have a cup of tea next to me, alongside my laptop, a notebook, and my favourite pen.”

“I do my best work outdoors, where I can smell the fresh air and can hear and see nature’s beauty.”

“I need to be alone. I lock the door to my study and ignore the outside world until I am ready to emerge.”

The different scenarios could go on and on. Some of them may be similar, but I am sure each writer has a certain tweak that makes their routine, their ritual, unique. Sometimes it may even sound sort of snobby! Doubtless there are people out there whose ideal situation is writing on a cottage deck, overlooking a pristine, glass-surfaced lake. I mean, I wouldn’t mind that for any scenario, not just writing. For me, however, writing can happen anywhere. The thing that puts me into my routine is music.

There was a point in my life when I had music playing for almost every waking moment of my day. If I was falling asleep, waking up, studying, cooking, eating, even watching TV, I had music playing in the background. When I think back to particular memories or events, I can almost always associate certain moments with a song that was playing or, if there wasn’t a song at the time, I associate a song with that memory. To be honest, I am not very surprised that music plays such a big part in my most passionate of endeavours then.

So why is this relevant? What part of you cares that I listen to music while I write.

The moral of the story, up front, is that art, creativity, and your work in general is impressionable. What happens to you and what is currently happening to you affects what you produce. We’ve all been there. It might have been that you were hungover at work one day, or maybe that person you were dating just broke up with you over the weekend. Those things have a substantial impact on your performance, but that is because they are shifting your focus, drawing you away from what you want to do. Music is different.

Take, for example, Archangel. While I did listen to a fair variety of music while writing the manuscript, there was one album that I listened to over and over again while writing, to the point where it was my go-to music for about 80% of the writing process. That album was Beauty and Rage by Red. Short deviation: if you like the hard rock and have not heard Red, definitely check them out. They are one of the few bands that are around where you can hear the genuine passion in their music. The album itself is full of a mix of very aggressive, harsher songs, as well as some more sweeping, orchestral tracks that slow down.

I found that, based on the songs that I had been listening to, the tempo of my writing and my vocabulary changed. I would be hitting repeat on the more aggressive songs whenever I had to write a fight scene, using the tone and lyrics to invoke a more intense image in my head, allowing the adrenaline to manifest itself into the scene. But I would be listening to slower songs when I wanted a more emotional setting, or when I wanted dialogue to take the forefront.

And it’s funny because, thinking back, I would go out of my way to pick specific songs on that album when I was getting stuck in a particular spot. If I wanted a scene to be dark, I would listen to a darker song and the words came easier. If a certain archangel needed to display some human qualities, then Beauty and Rage gave me a song for that.

Today I was planning on releasing Chapter Three of Archangel, but I instead decided that it needed a serious rewrite, so I have embarked on that. And do you know what I did as I began to plan the chapter?

I put on Beauty and Rage.

Let me know down below what your necessary ritual is for writing, reading, gaming, anything! If you have a go-to for specific moods, or maybe an album of your own, feel free to leave a comment. And stay tuned for updates on Chapter Three of Archangel.