Stimulate Your Ears, Stimulate Your Book: Reading Aloud and Listening to Music
Writing is often a very quiet and private experience for me. I curl up on a corner of a couch with a mug of hot tea, flex my fingers, and then write for as long as I can, avoiding distractions and other people whenever possible. However, I have learned that sometimes, especially when editing a later draft, it’s necessary to break out of my quiet routine and find new ways to stimulate and breathe life into the stories I’m writing. There are two things that I turn to for this: listening to music and reading my own book out loud.
Listening to music. Sometimes this approach also works well when drafting. The big trick is not to listen to your usual music or to anything that could draw your attention away from the task at hand. Choose something subtle that can work in the background and serve to accent your writing–soundtrack music is generally my favorite, or music that would fit into the scene that I’m working on. What’s the effect? My writing when I listen to music tends to be much more emotionally driven than other sections of the novel. When I’m editing, music helps accent certain aspects of the scenes that I had not paid much attention to previously and helps balance the writing as a whole. Maybe a certain detail I had barely managed to mention earlier suddenly becomes a crucial icon representing the core of what’s happening in a different light. Maybe a character feels differently about the situation than I had previously imagined. Either way, music is a fabulous way to look at your writing in a different light and recharge it with new energy that you wouldn’t have just skimming it over for yourself.
Either of those tricks is only emphasized when you try both together. If you can pull off both reading out loud and listening to music, the experience becomes outright theatrical. Moments will pop out that you never noticed before, and you’ll be able to key in to the exact tone and rhythm needed for your book. It does take a while to read through an entire draft, but every time I’ve done it, it’s been absolutely worth it.