Writers are like snowflakes (Part 5)

I figured it had been a while since I did one of these “we’re all unique and need to find what works for us” posts.  So, here goes.

This one is about music and television.

To me music people fall into three basic categories (completely subjective categories with no basis in scientific fact): there are the people who don’t really listen to music, the people who tend towards classical music, and the people who enjoy other types of music.  (And yes, yes, within the “other types of music” group there’s a lot of variety and some people wouldn’t be caught dead listening to country or heavy metal or pop, but I think all of those folks approach music in a different way than the classic music types.)

This is just my own personal division of the world.  And all it’s meant to say is that we don’t all experience music in the same way.  So, when I see someone on a writer’s website tell newer writers that they need to eliminate music and work in absolute silence I roll my eyes and shake my head.  Just because that particular person can’t work effectively with music in the background doesn’t mean that someone else can’t.

I’m always listening to music, so that type of advice is so antithetical to me I can’t even take it seriously.  But for the nicer, kinder, more prone to listen to others types out there, I say – “do what works for you.”

Some authors actually create playlists based upon moods or characters (action music, love music, songs that a particular character might like).  They use music to put them in a particular frame of mind.

I choose music that won’t intrude on my thoughts but will create enough of a background track to drown out other random noises.  Usually this means that I can’t listen to new music when I’m writing, because my mind wants to pay attention to the songs and decide whether I like it.  I also find that I’m very sensitive to the volume of the music.  If it’s intruding too much, I have to turn it down.  Not off, just down enough to move to the background.  And that this varies depending upon the nature of the scene I’m writing.

So, do what works for you.  Listen to music if it helps, don’t if it doesn’t.  (I tended to listen to music to study in college, too.  Or watch TV.  A little disconcerting to be sitting in a test and trying to remember that macroeconomic formula and flash back to the serial killer special that was on TV when I was studying it.  But I digress.)

Now, on to TV.  Yes, much of TV is absolute and complete crap and it fills your mind with garbage.  And when you have a life (unlike me) and therefore limited time, it can seem like a good idea to recommend removing TV from your life.  My best friend has never been a TV person.  Some people aren’t.

But I think there are advantages to watching TV.  First, just like the Internet, it provides an insight into other people’s lives.  Either through what they enjoy or what they do.

One of my favorite shows is Intervention and I’ve actually saved two episodes of that show, because the human stories behind those episodes were so moving that I wanted to come back to them later.  To me they showed that destructive codependence that people sometimes find and can’t escape.  Since that’s something I’ve never felt myself, those episodes give me an insight I can’t find anywhere else.

Second, it keeps you in touch with the outside world.  The world of your readers.  If as you evolve as a writer you stop reading other people’s fiction because most of it becomes unappealing and you stop watching TV and you spend your free time writing and don’t have other hobbies, how do you continue to connect to the world around you?  I’m not saying TV is the only answer, but I think it’s an important question to ask yourself every once in a while.

So, again.  Do what works for you.  Realize that if you’re watching TV you’re probably not writing. (I can’t write with the TV on.)  If you’re watching TV and it isn’t doing anything for you (teaching you something or distracting your mind so your subconscious can work) then maybe turn it off.  But don’t think you have to just to be considered a serious writer.

(Says the unpublished Internet nobody…)

Btw – decided to randomly share a photo from yesterday’s hike.  Enjoy!

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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