A #NaNoPrep Blog: Music Playlists

October is the month of NaNoPrep. All over the Internet writers are meeting and sharing their tips for surviving, for winning NaNoWriMo next month. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo for several years; I haven’t won every year, but I’ve always learned something about myself and my writing process. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is the importance of a play list.
When I’m working on a novel I usually build three separate playlists; because I am bad a clever titles I call them a) the writer’s playlist, b) the novelling playlist and c) the mood playlist. Each playlist serves a different purpose, with very little overlap.
I usually play the writer’s playlist before I start a day’s writing. This list doesn’t vary much from project to project; it’s the music I listen to when I need to purge the mundane world from my system. My writer’s play list is eclectic; a few pieces to relax me after a day of retail or classes, a few pieces to pump me up. I won’t list the music on my writer’s list; just pick out about fifteen minutes of music that takes you away from the mundane and inspires you.
The novelling playlist usually takes the longest to build, because it is basically a soundtrack for the novel. This is the music you’ll play while you write, every day, no matter what the scene. It serves to insulate you from whatever is going on around you, and keep you from getting distracted when you should be focused on the story. When I’m writing, lyrics distract me, so I focus on movie soundtracks, television themes and classical music. For the most part this playlist is simply music that represents the genre of the novel. I’ve found it fairly simple to compile a playlist for horror and fantasy writing; it took days to build the playlist for my weird western.
The mood list is a variation of the novelling playlist; for a long time I didn’t use one at all. Look at your outline; identify the major emotions of the story. This list will have a few minutes of music appropriate to each mood, staying within the genre of the story, if possible. You might want to add a “theme song” for the major characters. When you get stuck, or just need an extra push for a scene, find the appropriate music on this playlist.
Whether you’re dealing with the middle of the month slump, or rushing toward 50K at the end of the month, a playlist can help you meet the NaNoWriMo challenge, and building the list is a fun way to spend a few days in October.


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