Friday, March 18, 2011

How do you get “in the mood”?

Music? A little visual stimulation? Maybe read something special? I do all of those and one big one. I’m a daydreamer. If I can find a quiet place, maybe with a warm breeze and the right scent, I drift off to a whole new world. I can work out a scene in my head much like watching a movie. But background helps, as long as it isn’t words. The right music does put me in the mood. Jeff Bridges makes me happy. When he sings “I Don’t Know,” it makes me smile. Good for a happy scene, maybe where people are meeting. Then there’s Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” for the flight from danger. It changes the rhythm of the scene and the pace of my writing with it. Sometimes, for something sensual, there’s “Sanctus” by Anúna or Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, or Debussy’s “Afternoon of a Faun.” 


Sometimes music is good for cooking too. Pavarotti for pasta, Dolly for chicken and dumplings, and Appalachian Spring for Thanksgiving. If you haven’t tried some of these, you should. Music has charms, you know, and I’m convinced it enhances the flavor of the dish.



Let’s not leave out the visual. I like to have pictures of my characters, their homes, the setting, their cars—I used to cut them out and pin them to a bulletin board by my computer, but now I have them in the computer and switch to them for a refresher now and then. This is the inspiration for Claire Spencer’s shop in Cold Comfort. I have hundreds of pictures. I love looking at them.

How do you do it? What works for you? Is there anything special that helps put you in the mood? Do tell—you may help the rest of us.

10 comments:

Sandy Cody said...

All of the things you suggested are helpful. For me, however, nothing works like sitting down with another writer and talking shop. I always come away inspired. It's a good question and one that needs to be asked every now and then.

Sandy Cody said...

Forgot to say how much I like the pictures you include with your posts. Kudos!

E. B. Davis said...

Oh, I have a totally different mental image of Cold Comfort now that I see that picture. It's a terrific image.

Listening to music takes me into the music, and although it inspires me, especially passionate music, it takes me away from thinking to feeling. So, music doesn't evoke me to write.

What precipates my writing is imagining a situation, unique or orginary, real or not, and then adding one element of mystery, then creating a story by extrapolating from there. What do I need? Having time alone, having the muse, and concentrating.

Ellis Vidler said...

I use everything (I NEED everything), but quiet time is the most important--and hardest to come by. Music is a way to close myself off from what's going on around me.

Talking to others and bouncing ideas is a good one, but I do it by email now. No one lives very close and time is limited.

Cold Comfort is romantic suspense. It has mild sex, violence, and bad language. I'll have a description and blurb out sometime soon. You'll probably hear me shout before the email arrives.

P.S. Glad you like the pictures, Sandy.

Polly said...

I'm sure I'm weird. I want no distractions. None. No music, no talking, nada! In good weather I go outside and write, and I rarely hear what's going on around me. I slip into some place all my own and I become the person in my story, the scene in the story is where I am. I can drive hours in my car, and unless I'm listening to an audio book, I don't turn on the radio. Again, I'm into my story. Whatever works. For me, it's silence.

Kaye George said...

I'm with Polly. A cave would work fine for me. I don't want any music. I don't want the neighbors dogs barking. I don't want the phone to ring. If I can get a couple hours--or more!--with no interruptions or distractions, I'm quite happy! And productive.

Ellis Vidler said...

If I could choose anything, it would be total quiet, but that's rarely possible. Kaye, I'd love the cave--as long as it has electricity. My reasons for driving long distances by myself are mostly gone now, but I could think all the way to Alabama. Loved it.

Lately my best time is lunch hour at work. Everyone else goes out. But I wish it lasted longer.

towriteistowrite said...

The best background is whatever comes out of the speakers at Ruta Maya coffee house, usually rock. I don't like rock music at all, but I filter it out and write. Piano rags are good as well.

I wrote my thesis to Mario Lanza singing "Overhead the Moon Is Beaming" over and over and over. A little obsessive-compulsive thing, I think.

For the record, Netflix running in the background doesn't help the writing at all.

Ellis Vidler said...

I don't have a Ruta Maya coffee house, but I can probably handle anything other than words. Pictures I can shut out. Besides, I like the ones I create better.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I'm a former news reporter so I'm conditioned to just sit down and write. But I always read and edit the previous chapter before I start. The momentum carries me into the following scene.