What Makes Your Writing Rock?

May 15, 2011 at 8:03 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

A scenic place?  The cute barrista at your favorite coffee shop?  Inhuman contortions of your body during meditation?  Many writers use some form of stimulus to incite binging and purging of ideas like a bulimic master of prose.  For me, it’s music.

Here is where I confess something very nerdy about myself and my hope is that I don’t lose fans because of this: I was a band geek.  Ugh, I said it.  Not the kind who rolled her eyes by the time 6th hour approached; the bona fide ‘Band Pride’ type.  Now before you track me down to give me a wedgie, let me explain myself. 

Unlike most high school Marching bands, I had a cool teacher who didn’t mess around with the songs of Dorkdom.  In fact, my most memorable moment in band (and because I had a short attention span for school activities, memorable moments with any one sport for a given amount of time were very few) was playing House of Pain’s, “Jump Around”, at a football game.  I’m about to offer up some insight into my age here by saying that the song happened to be popular at the time, and the crowd loved it.  What I remember most, was how it added to the tension of the game. 

High school bands have come a long way since the days of “Pomp and Circumstance No. 1 in D Major.”  And, my gosh, has anyone else seen that kickass video on Youtube of the George Mason University band playing RATM?!    Check it out:  http://youtu.be/gqG4oSfQYIY  Maybe you wouldn’t necessarily jam to this in your car (maybe you would), but if you heard that at a game??  Whoa.

I was a cheerleader in high school too, so I wasn’t entirely consumed by geekness. 

Music has a way of influencing people.  It can build adrenaline, triggering electric pings of excitement to surge, depending on the song and the situation.  Take an ordinary baseball game and add a little “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse – you’ve got a heavy shot of cool infused in an otherwise not-so-memorable scene.  And by the way, while we’re on the topic of sports and song, I have a bone to pick with the Chicago Blackhawks.  Can someone please explain what the hell “Chelsea Dagger” has to do with hockey?  Grrr.  Thanks for taking one of my favorites and sucking the awesomeness right out of it.    

That aside, let me explain how music affects my writing:  sometimes I just happen to stumble upon an extraordinary tune and Boom!  A story is born.  Other times, the chicken comes before the egg.  I might have a rough sketch of the character in mind, but need to add a little bit of soul.  iTunes to the rescue.  I happen to like Alternative and am a huge fan of songs not typically droning on every radio station across the globe.  Finding a newborn song that embodies my character’s personality is like being able to find a matching bikini top and bottom in my size at PacSun – rare but exciting when it happens.  And for me, lyrics are key.  Even if the rhythm is rockin’, it’s kind of hard to write a love scene when the singer is crooning about gouging his eyes out with toothpicks.  Spoils the mood, know what I mean?

Once I marry the lyrics and beat to the perfect character or scene, a bouncing baby story is sure to follow.  I’m in the zone.  And if we’re talking word count here, the right song can crank out speeds of 1000 words an hour; which typically only happens to me when certain Earthly phenomena are involved. 

So for funsies, here is a list of my top five songs for writing (I will not be held responsible for linking any goofy videos that should have been better envisioned for the song):

  1.  Sail by Awolnation
  2. Bulls on Parade by Rage Against the Machine
  3. Here We Never Die by Sister Crayon
  4. Undisclosed Desires by Muse
  5. These Days by the Black Keys    


What’s on your playlist?



  1. jabelfield said,

    Well, it does depend greatly on who I’m writing and what I’m writing. Anyone who knows me knows that most stories I write revolve around the same set of characters, but their personalities aare individual enough for them to remain enteresting, thankfully.

    So, if I’m looking for romance inspiration, David Gray nails it for me every time.
    If I stick on my playlist, it consists of Kings of Leon, The Kooks, Tom Jones, Pink, Black Eyed Peas, Tom Jones, Alanis Morissette … yep, in that order, followed by more random tunes.
    However, if I truly want to listen to something that not only drags me in, but allows me to get lost inside my own little bubble to the point I can write at the same time as listen/sing, then I’ll stick on the Kings of Leon CD, and sing (badly) through Closer, mumble through the next one, sing my heart out to Sex on Fire and Use Somebody, and then perk back up when Cold In The Desert pipes up at the end–all the while belting out singular words midstream.
    Does it help my writing to rock? Not sure it does, but it certainly has the ability to get me in the right frame of mind. 🙂

  2. Keri Lake said,

    Oooohhh! Those are good ones! David Gray is perfect for kicked-back romantic scenes. The Kooks and Kings of Leon are on my list as well. And for the record, whether it’s music or yoga that inspires you, your writing most certainly rocks! Still waiting for the next teaser! 🙂 🙂

  3. jabelfield said,

    Thanks, Keri, but the next teaser is the entire book, LOL. Only just under 7 weeks to go. Very excited. I know the publisher’s running a contest tomorrow to win signed bookmarks for both Darkness & Light and Little White Lies. You should enter. :):):)

  4. Keri Lake said,

    Awesome! Will keep an eye out for that! How do I enter???

  5. jabelfield said,

    There will be a question on their website, or blog, and there’s be a submission form for your answer. It should be on there 9am EST 🙂

  6. Aimee Laine said,

    I can lay claim to your geekiness, Keri. I too am born and bred, 100% pure band geeky goodness. 🙂 4 years of band for me. 🙂 Concert, Jazz and marching band.

    Yet … I prefer to listen to absolutely NOTHING when I write. Funny how that is, huh? 🙂

    • Keri Lake said,

      Hahahaa! Glad to know another of my kind!

      And nothing wrong with preferring a little silence when you write either! I love music when I write, but CANNOT listen to it while studying a textbook. I end up suffering the ‘rereading the same line over and over’ affliction. Different part of my brain for each or am I not entirely focused on my writing?? LOL 🙂

  7. Raelyn Barclay said,

    I was choir not band and dance team not cheerleader, LOL. I’ve never gotten around to a playlist per say but love music and characters or scenes will often be born while listening. I rarely have music on while I write however. 🙂

    • Keri Lake said,

      If it has a fast beat, sometimes I’ll just listen and develop the scene in my head before I hit the keyboard. When the song is really rockin’ its hard to concentrate while its playing. 🙂

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