Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Makes You Tick?

Like many of you, in order to write I need a specific environment. As I haven't studied everyone Else's writing habits, I wonder if any of my needs for writing match other writers? So in the spirit of learning more about you, I will share what I do and I hope you will let me know what your writing environment is like.

First off I need to be alone. The phones ringing, the TV, the dog wanting to go outside are all huge distractions when it come to writing for me. I need my space. If I had my choice I really enjoy setting the mood with Christmas lights, and incense. Making a writing nook is critical to get a lot of work done for me. I am very happy to report that soon I will be moving to a new house that my wife and I just bought and one of the major selling points for me was that it has a separate finished garage that will become my personal studio. I can light it, decorate and make it my own!

I am a music nut. Years ago, I discovered a huge connection with reading, writing and music. I was reading The Thief of Always by Clive Barker and I read the entire book in one night with Tori Amos' cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit playing on repeat. The mood of the song just seemed to match what I was reading. Ever since, I love reading to music. Voivod's albums "Angel Rat" and "Noithingface" seem to go very well with Clive Barker's Imajica novel as well. So when I started writing, I like to heighten my emotions by listening to music. The funny thing is I listen to really odd music.

Let's Get Weird
My first manuscript was a horror novel, so I wanted something evil to stir my imagination. Already liking some pretty "dark" bands, I opted to put in some black metal and summon some demons on the written page. Ever since, I've been hooked. If it is a fight scene, a creepy scene, an action scene, it was probably written while blasting really fast minor chorded music with a guy screeching over it. Here are some of the bands that I can not write without.

WARNING: You very well may think I am crazy so listen at your own risk. (If you are easily offended you might want to check out another blog today.)

Cradle of Filth
These guys are my number one when it comes to setting an evil or action scene. They set such a wonderfully disturbing mood, that it makes writing an evil character almost easy. Despite that you won't be able to understand barely a word of hat they are saying, their lyrics are quite smart, focusing on Vampires, Faustian Philosophy, and historical figures such as Elizabeth Bathory.

Godspeed You Black Emperor
Yep, that is the name of the band. These freaky guys and gals play what I like to call, "End of The World Music". It is sad, ultra dramatic and basically sounds like an orchestra playing a requiem for the world. Great for crashes, devastation scenes, or describing a barren landscape.

Wolves In The Throne Room
This American Black Metal band has a bit of an earthy feel to them. Their experimentation with very fast tempos mixed with an occasional acoustic guitar creates a great breeding ground for raw and violent characters. Need a gnarly goon? Put this one and one should pop in your head immediately.

Battle Of Mice
Compiled of underground superstars, this band is just plain creepy. Their singer, Julie Christmas, can be absolutely frightening and brings out a raw emotional element that is perfect for some painful introspection by your characters. This band is a tension builder for me. When things are getting ready to hit the fan, Battle of Mice will be vibrating the walls in my house. (You may want to check out Julie Christmas' other band, Made Out of Babies... absolutely crazy!)

These guys don't speak a word of English, but they come across as so genuine and passionate that it stirs a vast array of emotions. It is a wonderful soundtrack for that part where the protagonist finally beats their nemesis.

This is a tiny cross section of things I listen to. I literally listen to more bands than I can count while writing, but these are some of my elite team of inspirational music. I know it isn't your ordinary lot of music, but it gets me going. I know some of you have to be thinking, "Ok Nick, you are kind of weird. I'm not so sure you are totally right in the head." I assure you I am a perfectly adjusted writer... Oh, Yikes!

So how about you? I want to know what you do to write. Do you play music? If so, what do you listen to? Do you write in the park? Do you need to be alone? What makes you tick?


  1. Nick,

    95% of my inspiration comes from music, it gotten to the point where I open Microsoft Word, then I close the doors to my bed room and my PC room (they are linked by a door) Then I lie down on my bed, close my eyes and listen to loud music. I'm instantly transferred into a different world, never fails and the images a flowing like a movie in my mind and very vivid. I can always return to scenes by playing the same songs again.
    "Torn from Normal" has it's own sountrack, ever chapter and scene has its own song.
    While I'm not into heavy metal, country or rap, I listen to everything else, from Pink Floyd to the Cranberries, anything goes.
    My best scenes are created with songs that get under my skin. In other words, if I hear a song I never heard before and it gets to me, I go out and purchase the album, lie down and let music and lyrics inspire my characters new environment. I don't write any other way. When I get hung on a scene, I go through my shelf with over 1,000 CD's to see if any might inspire Andy's Character.


  2. Nick,
    I totally agree with you on this. As you know, I am still new to the writing game. I have really been feeling out my writing "sweet spots". I have discovered that I am a Method writer, if there is such a thing. If I am writing scenes outside, well then I pack up my notebook and iPod and head to the park or even my porch if it is raining out. If I am writing a crowded bar scene, I like to go to place where there are people around. If I am drawing upon a past experience for a part in the film, I will sometimes even go to places that draw out those emotions in me so that they are fresh in my mind again. It is mentally and emotionally exhausting but effective. You get the picture.

    As for music, I have discovered that if I get into a slow spot in the plot, or even just writer's block, I will listen to my iPod on random everywhere I go. I usually find a song that makes me think about my story and I start getting ideas again. They usually suck, but at least it's something. Also, if I know what I am going to be writing about that night I will prep myself for writing. I will listen to a song or album all day at work or wherever just to get into the mood for that scene. I couldn't write without music.
    Also, it being a screenplay, I try to keep a list of songs that really go with the story in case I want to try to use them in the film. Wishful thinking!