I have this fantasy that someday I will write a book and it will be made into a movie. And not a made-for-TV movie., but a real one, the kind that’s shown in theatres with popcorn and all the trimmings, including the Skittles skittling down through the aisles.
I won’t get into how inaccurate most adaptations of books are, because in my magical world, the film becomes the perfect cinematic version of my literary visions.
I won’t get into how unlikely this fantasy is to come true, because it’s kind of like winning the writer’s lottery. It pretty much happens only to lucky ducks like Nicholas Sparks or the authors of He’s Just Not That Into You (like really, a movie out of a self-help book?)
However, my fantasy is productive because while I dream of the movie, I hear the soundtrack in my head.
I find it helps immeasurably to hear the soundtrack in your head while you’re writing. I write in fits and starts, revising very frequently; adding in bits here, there, and everywhere. I can’t resist tampering with my work. And that tampering requires rethinking and sometimes re-feeling something.
I play piano, so I sometimes come up with music on my own. (Remember, this is a fantasy, and in a fantasy, I can create my own soundtrack.) It’s very productive, because I can use another medium to inspire me to do more creative tinkering.
Preparing a potential soundtrack also allows me to think about what I’m trying to write. I believe fiction should play out like a movie in your head, with words and prompts in your writing acting as a guide to how it should look, sound, feel.
With a gadzillion old CDs and mp3s, I find it quite easy to come up with my very own soundtrack. I find it helpful when you’re working on a piece to have music playing in the background. Oftentimes, I sing along with it. That sometimes gets distracting, especially when the neighbourhood dogs begin howling with me. But creativity is a process.
Writing, though it’s an act of putting pen to paper (or pecking away at a keyboard), is a holistic activity. It requires you to exploit the senses.
One way to do that is through sound.
Sometimes I go for cheesy pop songs that don’t require a lot of analysis.
Sometimes I pick a song simply because of its notes. There are just some songs which sound inherently sad or uplifting despite the lyrics.
And sometimes, I hear a song, and just go, “Yeah,” nodding like a sage who has heard some philosophical truth uttered.
I have every intention of actually doing up soundtracks to my different works of fiction so that I can play them whenever I work on them. Currently, the songs are hither and thither and it takes me awhile to find them. That wastes precious writing time, acting as a disc jockey.
I don’t know if I ever want people to hear my soundtracks. That’s not the point.
The point is inspiring myself through different media, so that I can bring a well-rounded approach to my writing. Literature doesn’t take place in a vacuum; neither should the writing of it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to unearth Foreigner’s Greatest Hits.