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Music Before Writing

First, let me say that I am something of a Philistine when it comes to music in the car. I liked the 80s. I enjoyed its pop music. Styx, Bon Jovi, Meatloaf – these performers made the finest roadtrip albums that balls and big hair could produce.

But what I listen to before I get down to writing is a different matter. Language processing is no different from any other kind of processing, and garbage in = garbage out. I don’t listen to anything while I’m writing – I can’t focus, else – so I didn’t think it mattered what I had blasting while I did chores and deleted email. I was surprised, then, that my writing was poorer if I listened to poorly written lyrics before buckling down to work. But it’s true. My vocabulary is more limited, my dialogue becomes trite, and worse. The effect fades the longer I work, but I have a toddler, for crying out loud. These days I don’t have the chance to work long enough to overcome early Madonna.

But if I listen to, say, Ani DiFranco, or Simon and Garfunkle, or Anne Lister, or any other musician for whom words matter, I find that it loosens up the writing muscles.

Y’all noticed that? Got any suggestions for me to add to the writing warmup tracklist?

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