Do you notice music in movies? When I was studying cinema at University, we were taught to consider mise-en-scène – a French term which refers to all those elements that make up the ‘background’ feeling of a scene. Objects, lighting, placement… and, particularly, music and sound.
If you’ve ever had a hot stone massage and they’ve played spa music, the whole thing interacts to plunge you into the abyss of relaxation as quickly as possible – and it’s in that space that I always have my most creative visions and ideas. Adding music to your daily writing routine can get you into that alpha, creative state faster than silence, too!
Alpha waves, beta waves, the theta state (!)… I’m not exactly sure what that completely relaxed and visionary state is called, but it’s where we get our best ideas – there are no blocks to the ideas that can find their way into our consciousness.
Music, and sound compositions, have the ability to affect our physiology, our psychology, our energy levels, our creativity, our memory, and so much more. Did you know that considering the music you play when you write can make it an even more beautiful and therapeutic practise?
Some writers tell me they prefer to write in silence, which I understand. But personally, I need music without lyrics – piano music, soundtracks, or other. Sometimes, in my daily journalling practise, I play theta waves or the sound of rain in Paris…
There was an interesting study published in The Guardian about how silence can be less relaxing than soft music in the background, because our primal instincts are taught to listen for danger if all is silent. I like this theory – personally, I find complete silence unsettling, it makes it take a lot ‘longer’ for me to forget the world and plunge into deeper work. And my goal, with writing, is to get out of the ‘world’ and into that creative place without blocks, as quickly as possible.
“Music and rhythm find their way into secret places of the soul.”
I wrote an article for Reader’s Digest years ago on the power of music to boost our intellectual capacity, creativity, mood, and more. Sometimes when i’m completely exhausted, the only thing that gets me outside to the park is a particularly boppy playlist on my ipod!!
As part of my research for the Reader’s Digest piece, I got to speak with some incredible researchers who explained how music works non-verbally with the biological waves of our bodies. Reducing stress, helping us to get more quickly into the ‘alpha’ state than we could without it, even impacting our hormones, The Hush Foundation was one of the organisations I spoke with, and they organise music and soft sounds in children’s hospitals to help both patients and parents deal with the stress.
It’s far more likely that you will continue a practise that adds beauty to your life and feels good when you do it!
So what does music have to do with your writing? It may sound paradoxical that something that operates on the non-verbal plane, could affect your intellectual capacity so well, but it’s true.
I firmly believe we should make our writing practise as beautiful, therapeutic and enjoyable as possible (or why would we do it?). By adding a playlist to you writing routine, you’re much more quickly able to plunge into the creative abyss where you ‘let go’ of the here-and-now and fall into your deepest creative well.
I created a writing playlist here if you’d like to take a listen. It’s some of my favourite film soundtracks, which evoke mood and memory – perfect for memoir. Or maybe you can create your own?
Other favourites include Rachmaninov, Gustav Holst, classical piano all help, oh and the soundtrack to Midnight in Paris when I’m working on my dad’s memoir.
Even if you prefer silence when you write, playing music while you cook, clean, walk, or go about your day, can dramatically change your physiology. Why not try changing up your writing routine to add music to see how it changes your output?
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