Friend Friday – Writer Confession: Music is my Inspiration

Guest blog post written by: Jennifer Renson

What inspires you? Like books on a shelf, we are all different. What drives us to write, what we write, how, when?

For some: people in their lives, writers or poets, actors, and places inspire them. On a personal note, as you have seen by the title of this post, music is my main source of inspiration for my poetry and stories.

With one young adult novel (one prequel due for a 2017 release) and three poetry books, I discovered that music has a similar effect that scents do: transporting me to a memory or thought for a brief moment for better or worse. I cannot tell you how many songs I’ve listened to that give me strong The Walking Dead vibes to the point I fear I might go insane if I do not quickly scribble down the poems coming to me all at once that very moment.

I can happily say the result is worth the rush, especially when hearing the positive responses to poems revolved around people trying to survive and thrive in a zombie (walker) apocalypse (October cannot get here fast enough). There are times I will literally listen to the same song on repeat until my poem or story is finished. I can easily say that during the seven to eight months I spent writing my first (currently unpublished) historical fiction book, I listened to the same six or seven tracks from a variety of musical categories in the car and at home, and nothing else. I never got tired of it.

Even though I could not spend my entire day writing, as much as I would love to, I never lost that tone I needed for this particular story. I was able to stay on track without falling into social media surfing traps, dashing off with another story idea, or even stopping to write poetry. I stayed focused on the time period the story revolved around, researching key events, names, and locations to remain as accurate as I possibly could. Today I wrote three poems based off of one track I was listening to from a film I recently watched. Three poems off one track! I’m still listening to that track even as I write this because I enjoy it that much. Music and inspiration are the perfect match for writing.

I’ve talked about this a few times before: inspiration has no schedule and does writer’s block, but never mind that endless cycle of torment. Inspiration will, more often than not, come at the most inconvenient times, such as while driving, sleeping, working, studying, sitting in traffic, in the middle of watching a movie; you get the idea. I can already imagine you nodding your head in agreement. It’s the nature of the beast.

I’ve been a victim of forgetting an idea for a story or poem, because I was unable to write it down for one or several reasons (note the above examples). Hence why I often carry two pens (in case one runs out of ink) and scrap paper in my handbag. In the cases where I cannot write anything down, I often forgot the ideas but I remembered the tone. Happy? Sad? No. Joyous! Distraught!

When I would finally be able to sit down and write, I would listen to music that represents that tone and before you know it, my left hand is on autopilot and I’m looking at two pages of material. The whole experience is amazing! Resulting in goosebumps, chills, and astonishment from how I was transported to a world I created for that short amount of time. Admittedly, my taste in music sometimes reaches even the farthest corners of movie soundtracks and songs I may have heard in a commercial and then spent days trying to find. I’m sure your nodding your head in agreement once again.

To be honest, there are times where I can listen to a song that brings forth a wave of self-reflection, and my friend will feel the complete opposite. I truly can’t explain why that is, except as we read in the beginning: we are all different. I did not want to mentioned writer’s block again, but I will say that if you are ensnared in its clutches, listening to music may provide a way to escape. Listen to something you like, or search for something new, and write through the wall until you break free. Since I rely on music to create, I constantly search and discover new songs/soundtracks. If you happen to have any music suggestions for me, or want to share what music you listen to tweet me on @JennyRenson. Tell me what music helps you combat a lack of inspiration? I’d love to read them!


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