Lots of writers I know have a soundtrack for their work — a playlist that keeps them focused during the long hours of writing, editing and rewriting that goes into producing quality work. Others of us use different tricks to keep our minds from wandering. I’ve talked to several who, like me, are happy with some tried and true, old favorite movie or TV show on in the background. There are even those authors who crave silence but, since my freelance work took off back when I had a kid in elementary, I have no idea how I could make that adjustment.
Not long ago I chatted with another writer about the power of smells and songs to evoke powerful memories. It’s something editors often harp on, reminding us to “show don’t tell.” They know that the right snippet of sound can bring the reader into a time and place more quickly than any lengthy description.
The other day, just for fun, I checked in with readers on my Facebook page, asking which album they played over and over when they were younger. In honor of the day my 5th-grader came home, excited to tell me about the “amazing new group” he had heard, I posted the Sargeant Pepper album cover.
The response was fun. And interesting. And most of their postings came with a snippet of story: the first album bought with her own money, singing in front of the mirror with her sisters, making sure to own an LP in every single available format, and even taking pleasure in her parents’ music.
I heard from readers I know around town, some I only know online, and even a friend from high school. Most who responded were female and most around the same age. Their musical choices and the comments they shared painted a picture for me as well. Of the things we cared about. The things we worried about. And the music that made us feel less alone.
And maybe that’s why so many writers thrive on a personal soundtrack — it’s a connection that makes them less alone. Does your life have a soundtrack?