Music is integral to not only my writing career, but my life.
On one of my numerous vacations this summer, my husband and I were listening to some good old eighties music, and even decades later, we knew all the words. Singing loud and off key, we belted the songs out in pure happiness, bringing us back to certain moments of our youth and memory.
Music does that. It reminds us of where we were in life when a certain song came out or became popular. It sets a mood, and drags us back to our first love, first kiss, first heartbreak, first fight.
But there’s something else music has done for me that has helped tremendously. It’s brought me back from the brink of failure and depression. It’s given me back my hope and channels the spark inside we all have that can never be distinguished.
The flare of determination and stubbornness and drive for success.
We have all reached moments in our life of hopelessness. Sometimes, writing is just too hard. Sometimes, the business rips out our hearts and leaves us soulless. Sometimes, it just hurts too much to go on, whether it’s to finish a deadline, or make a bestseller list, or reach a certain level of sales so you can quit your job or make your publisher happy.
That’s okay. It’s not supposed to be easy. But I’ve been through those moments more times than people may believe, and there is something that always helps me move forward and re-ignite the creative, fierce light inside me.
When I was young, Irene Cara belted out her popular song, Fame. I’d dance and sing it in the driveway, positive one day I would become a famous author. I clung to the words and believed I could do it. There was just something within the song that lit a fire inside me.
I was obsessed with the Rocky franchise. OBSESSED. Besides the movies, I’d listen transfixed to the songs by Survivor, but one of my all time favorites was the theme song where Rocky climbed the famous steps in Philly, thrust his hands in the air, and celebrated his success. Still gives me goosebumps. When I felt down and battered, I’d turn to the theme song by Bill Conti, Gonna Fly Now, and channel Rocky.
My parents were huge Barry Manilow fans, and I shared the love. My best friend and I would listen to him as we drove to the beach during the summer, along with Billy Joel. When times got particularly rough, I’d turn to his song, I Made It Through The Rain. It inspired me to fight through my sadness and celebrate where I was. He was a friend who never even knew how much he helped.
Over the years, many songs have come into my life and changed me for the better. I Lived by One Republic is on constant repeat. Fight Song by Rachel Platten makes me feel fierce, along with Katy Perry’s Firework, Roar, and Rise.
Turning to music when things get rough is a good way to remind ourselves we are not alone, and we will get back up and back to work.
Being a creative artist brings up an array of emotions that sometimes causes great depression and sadness. But grabbing onto a piece of light in the darkness can make all the difference.
Sometimes it’s a book, or a movie, or a friend.
Sometimes, it’s a song.
I love creating playlists for each one of my books which creates my own special memory and brings readers a glimpse of the real work behind the scenes.
Feeling down lately? Turn off Facebook where too many outside emotions can influence you. Turn off Twitter and IG and Snapchat and email.
Turn on your Ipod.
Do you have a special song that has helped you through hard times or helped you with your writing?
I write mostly historical western romance, and the music I turn to is Marty Robbins’ gunfighter songs for the inspiration and mind-set. When I’m in what I call ‘deep writing’ mode, I invariably put on the Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean soundtracks as the noise to block out everything else. For when I need a pick-me-up or I’m just in a mood, it will be the music from Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, and La bohème.
Hi Kaye! I adore Phantom and La Traviata is one of my faves – love your choices and thanks for sharing!
I definitely related to this! I have two songs that I turn to, depending on how I’m feeling:
– When I’m completely frazzled and can’t hold a thought in my head: “Sailing” by Christopher Cross. It soothes me, allows me to start organizing my thoughts and discard the irrelevant ones.
– When my writing stinks and I’m getting rejections left and right and I want to throw in the towel: “Win in the End” by Mark Safan (this is the song from the final basketball game in “Teen Wolf”). Somehow, this song helps me dig down and push a little harder.
Gotta check out the Win in the End song now!!
I usually listen to a hard rock song before going into work like Thunderstruck by ACDC or Paradise City by Guns and Roses. Lately when I need a pick me up I listen to A Little Bit of Soul. And I love creating playlist for my characters/books!!!!
HI Liz, Love your choices!