Music: A Conduit to Creativity

by Elaine Calloway

We writers are unique creatures. We have our rituals, our beverage addiction of choice (based on the empty vending machines at writing conferences, I’m betting Diet Coke is right up there with coffee!), plus our way of courting the muse. And when we find a method that works, we stick to it.

No matter what method you use, the important thing to know is that you should use what works for you. Some writers need music while writing; others prefer the silence. Neither is right or wrong. Do what works for you, what will produce the story you long to tell.

One technique that some writers (me included) embrace is to play music while writing. Not for sheer background noise (although that’s a valid option too) but to get us into our character’s heads, to zoom us immediately into a scene so our fingers are able to fly across the keyboard and produce those pages!

I typically create a “soundtrack” of miscellaneous songs for each book, a collection of tunes that relates to the storyline in some way. Sometimes, I go deeper than that and have a separate soundtrack for each character, rather than each book. For example, for a ghost story with an Irish female protagonist, there are plenty of Irish songs on the soundtrack. For some of my Women’s Fiction books which have dramatic scenes, there are plenty of sad ballads that will inspire a somber attitude.

I wish I could give a secret formula for how to find each song, but the simple fact is that I grab several songs together and see if they work. It’s one of those intuitive things where I know immediately if it succeeds or fails, then I tweak the song list to make it work.

Typically, there is that *one* song that instantly works, the “cover song” if you will. This is the one that, even if you’re not near your keyboard, if you hear it, your characters instantly start talking to you. It’s a portal that puts you immediately into the writing mode.

For Water’s Blood, this one song was “Furnace Room Lullaby” by Neko Case. The song has an eerie feel to it and always put me instantly in the mood to write. (Listen to it on YouTube here.)

The other songs for the Water’s Blood soundtrack can be found here.

I love the evil, haunting melodies that drive me on to create darker characters. I love the fact that music halts all the stresses of my brain and sets me in the place to write. Music can be a fantastic conduit – give it a try!

Thanks so much for having me here today!

elaine_photo Elaine Calloway grew up in New Orleans with a love of Gothic architecture and all things paranormal. She is currently writing the paranormal/fantasy Elemental Clan Series. Water’s Blood, Book One, is available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. To learn more about Elaine and her books, visit her Website
final_cover_small Brooke, a Water Elemental stationed in New Orleans, broke the rules once–she mated with a human. For her indiscretion, she is forbidden to share a life with her loved ones: NOPD officer Alex and their half-breed daughter, Ella.Now Ella is about to turn sixteen, and the local clan of fallen angels is determined to snare her soul by Halloween. Brooke broke the rules once by allowing love to interfere with her mission. Now she and Alex must put consequences aside to break the rules again—if they wish to save their daughter’s soul.
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3 comments on “Music: A Conduit to Creativity
  1. Elaine, It’s great to hear about the role of music in your very successful writing process. (Loved Water’s Blood–can’t wait for Raging Fire!)
    Also I listened to the Water’s Blood song on U tube. Eerie.
    Appreciated your previous blog about writing retreats. Getting two or three authors alone together for a weekend of writing is a terrific idea. The energy in the space must be amazing!

    Keep us posted on the exact date of Raging Fire’s release!

  2. Thanks Caroljane, for stopping by! Appreciate the comment and glad you liked the song for WATER’S BLOOD. Yes, it is eerie. This was one that I happened to be watching the movie that it was from (“The Gift”) and it struck me as an ideal haunting song, so I added it to my playlist. Then the song wound up being the main conduit to the characters :)

  3. Keri Neal says:

    Thank you Elaine for this wonderful article!

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