Author Topic: My sudden insight about music and writing  (Read 857 times)  

Offline Piano Jenny

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My sudden insight about music and writing
« on: February 12, 2018, 08:53:31 AM »
This morning I briefly saw the post about "wanting to write everything and nothing" and had a sudden stroke of insight.

In college I was a music major. I deliberately did not play any kind of pop music or "fun" stuff I liked during the school year, as I thought that would be "goofing off" and that I needed to focus on the music for my exams. During my senior year someone even introduced me to some jazz progressions and exercises, and I thought to myself, "That sounds fun, but I can't work on something like that right now. I have to focus my energy on passing my senior recital."

I thought I was being responsible and disciplined by making those choices. No one ever suggested otherwise. In fact, I'm quite sure my piano professor would have been unhappy if she knew I had been in the practice rooms playing James Taylor and Indigo Girls songs.

BUT now when I look back, that is so sad to me. Playing around with jazz and rock and playing things "just for fun" wouldn't have hurt my exams and recitals at all. I would have played more overall, I think, instead of "taking away" time from anything.

Not only that, but it would have helped me grow a lot as a musician. In fact, if I were a piano professor, I would regularly encourage my students to play things that had nothing to do with their official studies, and to get their hands on songs of all different styles to play around with.

It wasn't until this morning that it occurred to me that writing might be the same way.

When I'm working on something, I feel like I have to "stay focused" and "use my writing time" for my WIP.

But what if I also allowed some time for pure play? What if I wrote things that may or may not ever go beyond the first page? What if I tried writing in a different genre for 20 minutes, even if I had no intention of ever finishing it, or even any intention of it being any good? What if I found some random prompt that had nothing to do with my WIP and spewed out something from it, for my eyes only?

Interestingly, that was how I used to write as a kid. I would just have an idea and scribble something in a notebook for a page or two. I also finished stories, but it never occurred to me to debate whether an idea would go anywhere, or if I had an entire plot, or even to wonder if it was any good. I just wrote what I wanted, for as long as I wanted.

Does this resonate with anyone? Maybe I'm just saying something that everyone else always knows, but for me it was eye-opening. Any thoughts?


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Offline ilamont

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2018, 11:23:57 AM »
It resonates with me, although my perspective is a little different.

I never studied music other than some tutoring in high school, and both during and after that time always saw it as a fun activity and creative outlet. There was a social component to collaboration, which was important to me, as well as the opportunity to create and record new works. There was almost no money in any of it, other than beer tickets and some a very small degree of revenue from CD sales.   

Writing started a bit differently. I learned mechanics and basic formats in high school, and attended a communications program in college where I learned newswriting, scriptwriting, and academic writing styles. I was able to get a series of professional writing and editing jobs in my 20s, but also did a lot of writing for fun, including travel journals and short story writing. Later, I took up blogging in a big way.

I never saw those fun activities as allowing me to lose focus. It was more like a compulsive urge that I have to fulfill, and in the back of my mind I realized it was helping me develop my "voice" even though on the surface it would seem that the casual and professional styles have little in common. Stylistically, my main book brand, IN 30 MINUTES guides, owes a lot to the early travel journals and blogging experience.

For me, it's not the urge to write for fun that's the problem, it's the availability of so much to read. I usually let myself go wild when the urge strikes to blog, but I have installed timers on all of my browsers to head off the urge to spend half the day reading interesting stuff, whether it's a forum post or a long-form article.

I wonder if social media and forums like this serve other writers as an outlet for experimentation. In the same way that letters and journalism experience shaped the writing of many 20th century authors, what will prolific experience on blogs, social media platforms, Reddit, and elsewhere do for the next generation?

Offline SueSeabury

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2018, 12:37:42 PM »
Sounds like you just rediscovered the joy of 'play,' something kids don't need help with but so many adults do. Play definitely makes us more creative not to mention happier, so yes, go forth and enjoy.
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Offline Christa_Tomlinson

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2018, 12:57:07 PM »
One of my 2017 goals was to write for fun. I'd become so serious and stressed with publishing that writing felt like a burden. So last year I decided that I would write fun things. For me that meant writing some fanfiction again, and also writing down little plot bunnies whenever they showed up. I also have a notebook that I keep them in.

Whenever I'm stuck with something I'm working on for publication, I pull out my plotting notebook and just play around with about ten minutes of free writing on one of the ideas in there. That's usually a big help to get my creativity flowing again. The fanfics let me write just for the joy of it, and let me play around with ideas that I may or may not ever think of adapting for publication. I'm continuing on with that goal for this year too, because playful writing is really helpful. If it's helping you I definitely think you should stick with it.  :)

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Offline TromboneAl

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2018, 01:29:27 PM »
Yes, I've often seen the similarities, at least for jazz, and I've followed the same ideas for learning to write as I used for learning to play jazz.

Here's one: In both jazz and writing, the nuts and bolts of the masters' work is right out there for you to see. That is, you don't have to wonder about "How does he do that?" because it's right there in front of you. You can listen to a solo and read a book. All the "notes" are there.

But reproducing it isn't always possible.





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Online Lorri Moulton

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2018, 01:54:21 PM »
Yes!

I got so caught up in research on this latest novel that I decided to take a break yesterday.  Instead, I'm going to write three short fairytales, which I can totally pants.  Such a nice change! :)

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Offline LarryM

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2018, 02:24:23 PM »
I hope you're now playing fun musical things!

Yes, I also agree that it works in writing as well. I was getting bogged down working on my WIP, and happened on a limerick. I spent a week or so having fun writing these fun little poems.
Larry



Offline S. C.

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2018, 02:30:04 PM »
I read a while ago that Google employees get to spend 20% of their time on 'pet' projects, which inspired me to do the same on Fridays. It doesn't always work out exactly that way, but I do find that it gets the creative juices going.  I also like to have one fiction and one nonfiction project on the go at any given time. I believe in that saying: a change is as good as a rest.  It seems to boost my productivity too.


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Offline Piano Jenny

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2018, 03:43:38 PM »
I hope you're now playing fun musical things!

Yes, and actually that could be a topic for a whole other thread.

Now I'm a free-lance working musician -- and I never play anything remotely like what I had to do in college!

The closest I get to that is when I play for a choir. But the bulk of what I had to do in college, and what we got graded on, was playing classical solo pieces, completely from memory

Guess how many times someone has contacted me asking me to do that? Um ... never. And why would they?

In contrast -- next week I'm getting paid $400 to play a slew of Disney songs for a wedding -- plus some WWF song; I think it's called "Glorious." None of it will be memorized, because thankfully nobody cares.

Kind of funny when you think about it.


PS -- When I play purely for myself, I really like to play Billy Joel.


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Offline LadyG

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2018, 03:53:39 PM »
That's one of the reasons I still write fanfic once in a while. It's fun, makes absolutely no money whatsoever, and is only read by a handful of readers over on Fanfiction.Net. But it's like taking a little writing vacation when I need to step away from my current WIP, and writing it allows me to come back to my "real" writing with a clearer mind and better focus.

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Offline RightHoJeeves

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2018, 04:54:13 PM »
I know what you mean. I've become a bit burnt out on writing my Ministry of Detection series (I work full time and have a side business as well), so I've decided my next work will be something totally different, something (I think) Australians are good at, and something I love: crime. I'm also going to try to traditionally publish it, because it will be so different to my indie stuff, I figure why not?

Staying focused on a task is certainly admirable, and when you're on a good thing it's worth doing. But to be honest, when you're as much of a prawn as me, and no one is reading you anyway, I figure why not? What harm can come from it?

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Online Rica G

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2018, 06:40:41 PM »
Definitely. Yesterday I went through so much old notes and files to find this one scene I was looking for that I wanted to use for my current WIP.

It made me realize I wrote so much stuff I don't even remember writing, and some of them aren't half bad. It's sort of the same with the fanfic I used to write, they were just plain spontaneous and random and imperfect. I kind of miss it. I love what I write now, but there was something so fun and pure about that kind of writing.

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Offline C. Gold

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2018, 07:22:00 PM »
I've placed fun stuff up on my website. Some of it was inspired by crazy stuff on this forum. I think it's important to play around and have fun with whatever you are doing whether it be playing an instrument or writing. Life is too short to be so serious all the time and if you have a gift, why not use it? Even if you aren't all that gifted, like me singing, lol, may as well do what makes you happy. :)

Online kw3000

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2018, 07:24:17 PM »
Yes, I am happy I posted that topic about wanting to write everything and nothing because the responses helped me to realize that writing what you enjoy is important. You'd think I should be able to reconcile that on my own, but when you have Swiss cheese covered in cobwebs for a brain it's amazing what slips through.  8)

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Offline C. A. Mitchell

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2018, 02:31:14 AM »
Yes! Writing for fun is so critical to general writer happiness. I'm (slowly) learning this lesson.

Offline PaulineMRoss

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2018, 03:28:05 AM »
I come at this from a slightly different perspective. I made a conscious decision not to write to market or to worry too much if the books sold a lot or a little, and just write what I wanted to write (I'm lucky enough to be able to do that). The result is that I absolutely love writing my wip, and don't feel any need for 'time off'. I guess my work and play are the same thing to me.
 

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Online kw3000

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2018, 03:53:39 AM »
I come at this from a slightly different perspective. I made a conscious decision not to write to market or to worry too much if the books sold a lot or a little, and just write what I wanted to write (I'm lucky enough to be able to do that). The result is that I absolutely love writing my wip, and don't feel any need for 'time off'. I guess my work and play are the same thing to me.

This is where I'm trying to get to...I'm working on it.  :)

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Online Rinelle Grey

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2018, 04:15:45 AM »
Having fun with writing is definitely important! Personally though, I cant write just single scenes, they only have meaning for me when theyre part of a whole, complete story. (Theres nothing I dislike more than finding some old writing and realising I never finished it, because I want to know what happens next!)

What I do do for fun though is write a series under a second pen name. It doesnt meet genre conventions. (30k fantasy!), and doesnt really make any money, but I love it, and Im not going to stop!

Feel good romance with a touch of magic.
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Offline Al Stevens

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2018, 01:32:24 PM »
I see a prominent corollary. (I'm a retired jazz musician and a semi-retired writer.) Playing jazz is from the seat of your pants using a foundation of the craft. Playing classical (or other prepared forms of) music is like following an outline. Make of that what you will.

Offline rchapman1

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Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2018, 02:16:13 PM »
I'm retired - At my age I don't think I have time now to spend writing something that is going nowhere!
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