While I definitely identify with being a writer, I also happen to be a songwriter, musician, and singer. For me, music falls into the same broad category as writing fiction–it’s all storytelling. The art of storytelling can also be found in visual and performing arts. Story means a lot of different things, but I think at the root of all good storytelling is the incitement to emotional response. Artists create their works from an emotional standpoint and when we consume art, it is impossible for us to separate the emotional component from our responses to it. A huge part of how we operate in the world is driven by emotional responses to external and internal stimuli. The degree to which we use reason to temper our emotions determines how much agency we have in our lives. So, in my day-to-day interactions with the world at large, I generally try to apply as much reason to my environment as possible. Otherwise, I would probably become overwhelmed. However, when I’m creating art, it’s often important to stimulate my emotional responses to what I’m creating in order to capture things like mood and tone. This is where the music I listen to when I’m writing plays a huge role–but not in the way you might think.
Stephen King famously said that he could remember every piece of music he was listening to while writing every single bit of fictional narrative (except on some of his pre-sobriety days where he couldn’t remember writing anything at all, as was the case with his successful first novel, CARRIE). While I couldn’t tell you exactly what song I was listening to when I wrote, for example, today’s reading, I do know generally what kind of music I listen to while I write. And more importantly, why I listen to it.
Obviously I don’t listen to music while I’m creating music, but I do listen to a broad range of music in my daily life that can inspire or influence the music I create. On the other hand, when I’m writing I listen primarily to electronic music. If I didn’t listen to music while writing, I would likely be distracted by the world around me. So, by putting my headphones on and listening to genres like deep house or lo-fi beats, I can focus on the words I’m putting to page.
While writing this, for example, I’m listening to No. 17 by Stimming on the album DJ Koze Presents Pampa Vol. 1. It’s a funky, eclectic tune that makes me bounce in my seat a bit. It’s followed by the Psy single by Recondite, a throbbing deep house beat that works its way down my spine and makes my head bob.
This sort of music helps me focus. And because these songs don’t have lyrics, I’m not distracted by singing or humming along. If I were to listen to my favorite vocal artists, I would likely be too distracted following along with the music to actually get any writing done. Deep house, lo-fi, and other electronica helps me get into the flow state and really produce.
So, for me the writing playlist is extremely important and lays a background foundation for getting after writing. I’d be curious to hear what kind of music you listen to while doing deep work.
We tend to believe that social media is to artists as water is to a desert oasis. If we weren’t present in the world of social media, we would simply be a mirage, insubstantial and unheard. But I’m not one hundred percent convinced that social media is the panacea folks have come to believe it is. And I’m considering pulling the plug. At least on some of it.
I never get on Facebook. I keep the future possibility of advertising my books on Facebook in my back pocket. But on a daily basis, I do not open the app or go to the website. There is nothing on Facebook that I’m interested in, and I see it more as a placeholder for the day when I can afford to run Facebook ads. The same goes for Twitter and Snapchat. I just don’t use the platforms.
I have been experimenting with TikTok more recently, mostly because I’ve seen the BookTok trend as a vehicle for promoting my work. But I’m not sure I really know what I’m doing, so it’s a work in progress. Instagram, on the other hand, is something that I have been doing for a few years now. But I still haven’t cracked the code on it, nor have I necessarily figured out how to leverage Instagram for book sales. And I often find myself scrolling through Instagram looking at things that interest me, like sailboats and sailing.
Honestly, the best outlets I’ve found for promoting my work so far have been my email list, my phone contacts for SMS, and LinkedIn. Yes, LinkedIn has been a great place to share my book releases. I can attribute much of my recent sales to direct engagement on LinkedIn.
My feelings about social media are (like all my opinions) in a state of refinement and evolution. Time will tell what platforms prove the most useful, and which I will eventually leave behind.
This week’s reading is from a weird post-apocalyptic short story I wrote that is available on Amazon called BROKEN PEOPLE. I think it could certainly be continued. You can listen to it here and I hope you enjoy it!