The intoxicant of choice…

…to boost creativity has to be… music. Well we can’t go on being the reckless wildchild of our youth forever can we? So no, the healthy option has to be music. That powerful memory cue (which can transport us back to those wild and reckless days), and a universal feature of human societies. And the perfect way as a writer, to immerse yourself into the heart of your character or the underlying emotional pull of your story. The unifying feel of it.

After all, isn’t music capable of evoking exceptionally strong emotions in us? Can it not be heavily relied on to affect our mood? It’s a well documented fact (for those of us that didn’t know by intuition), that music in Minor Keys evoke a sense of melancholy, while music in Major Keys evoke a sense of happiness – as a general rule. In fact, there’s a lot of scientific study around sound frequency/music and it’s affect on our brain and perception, etc. Quite interesting stuff if you have the inclination. So by choosing a musical piece (preferably an instrumental – as lyrics can interfere with the writing side of your brain) – in the right key, you will place yourself in the perfect frame of mind to express the underlying emotional theme of your story or character. It’s totally visceral.

21 Gram Film Poster

While writing The Ungecila Report – a short story about a man living in a future yet to be recognised as dystopian, and drawn into a conspiracy that saw his father murdered at the hands of a secret government agency – I played these 3 tracks on a loop the whole time. In this story, our man is a reluctant hero. My favourite kind. Take a listen to him…

Tazarine – from the film ‘Babel
When Our Wings Are Cut, Can We Still Fly? – from the film ‘21 Grams
Iguazu – also from Babel (and all 3 composed by the wonderful Gustavo Santoalalla)

Can you hear that sort of downbeat, heaviness? The hangdog melancholic pulled along by circumstance? Well, that was what I heard. Now, whenever I listen to these compositions, they have imprinted the desire to write him some more. He lives, breathes and suffers in these sounds.

If that sounds nuts… so what. It works. For me at least. But whatever your reason for listening, there’s no getting around it – music is a joy. Food for the soul and it’s creative spark, and don’t we all need a bit of that.