Can music help jazz up your writing?

 MC900435237I’m embarrassed to admit having written the following in “How to Write“:

Writing in a consistent voice is critical to sustaining your story’s world and  your hero’s point of view.

Select a piece of music that epitomizes your hero before working on the story and when you make a few minutes to write, play that song.  Perspective returns and the words fall into place.

If music doesn’t work, try something that speaks to you; a white noise venue like the food court at your local mall or in front of a random Law & Order episode. Eat a particular sort of food or burn incense.  Everyone is sensitive to different stimuli – find your inspiration.

I didn’t mean to be patronizing.  But tonight I realized once the mood is gone, a simple song won’t bring it back. “Mood” isn’t about ambient lighting; it’s the voice behind the words that hit the paper.
Sometimes, I just go with the new mood and see where it carries me; the characters react much differently and sometime better themes or plot points emerge. A recent “new mood”  has given my story a darker timbre. I’m beginning to think will be more attractive and more sustainable over a trilogy; I’m beginning to embrace it. Do you have any magic methods to get back into the swing of things when you’ve lost your mojo? Or do you go with it?


I like what I’m writing now - punchy and casual. Folksy.  But as an example of “the wrong mood,” I came across a letter I wrote on vacation in England, when I had plenty of time to write (unlike the couple of minutes I manage to drag out of the typical day-to-day).


I wrote the following, not because I planned to (not because I felt like scattering toffee-nosed dross to the pigeons) but because that’s what hit the page. I’m glad I wrote it down but (as I suspected at the time), the only use I can imagine is as inspiration for an especially eccentric character.
 Here’s my example of “sometimes you know when you’re not in the right mood to write:”


Tuesday we were up for a wonderful breakfast with Colin and Lesley. The pool the previous night gave us an appetite, and we cajoled them to let us spend a third night, since our plans at the next destinations had more or less fallen through.
smVacation 2011 228Hunt day was sunny, with a crisp blue sky – we saw from our vantage point high on a grassy hill among a gymkhana of jumps, mounted hunters in period regalia scour fields fallow and full, respendant below us. Hounds streamed along and through hedgerows that had seemed from ground level, impenetrable 5-foot living walls.
Eventually, we lost track of the hounds, but had a heartfelt conversation with a wandering dairy man about the state of the economy and especially the dairy board, which closely resembled the quota programs Kevin recalled from Canada.


Finally, I will proudly add, I spotted the hare, ears tight to his back and gliding just clear of the ground, running a hillock beside hounds & huntsman in the opposite direction.
Whether he was lucky or lunch, we’ll never know, but after the three of us lost the rest in the hills, we contentedly adjourned to the village of __ and visited the excellent “24” dining room. Vacation 2011 408
You can imagine, we were somewhat the worse for wear after roving the dales.  Perceiving our initial demeanor was a trifle robust, I regaled my patient companions with a cautionary tale.  Some years ago, a former sweetheart (attempting to soften the blow of our impending breakup) took me out for a sumptuous farewell dinner, only to have an obnoxious, drunken Texan goose the harpist, loudly blather rude jokes, and completely ruin the gesture. I said I hoped we’d be quiet in respect for a formally turned-out couple in a romantic back corner of the room.
From my companions’ loud silence, I came to realize that if anyone gets out of hand, it’s me. Oops.  Oh well, I do love to remember that night I was spurned at a romantic mountain getaway (and my last motorcycle ride). I sighed, lost in melancholy memories, while Kevin and Donna chatted animatedly about the hounds we’d seen, might see, would see, and would not be able to see on our brief vacation.

When the blog becomes a book

Attractive Woman with Her BooksWriting this blog has been an adventure in itself.  I thought I was going to share what helped me write; instead, attempting to run the blog backward (oldest to latest post), I discovered I was working on a story-writing manual.

Voila, a new book.

I’ve posted the chapters and will add more; for now, I hope to  get back to writing my story. Between the blog, the story, and the manual, I can see why successful writers limit themselves to stories: spouses get fidgety when left alone on the sofa.

When the technical writer discovers story-telling

Stack of DocumentsAs a technical writer, I create user guides, white papers, configuration instructions… corporate nonfiction, if you will.

But I always wanted to write a story. Recently (ten years ago?), I began to take it seriously. Within the last two years, I’ve made good progress and have almost completed my first story.

This blog chronicles my attempt to organize what I’ve learned (an occupational imperative) and to share and discuss helpful tactics and strategies.