I caught the “Overheard with Evan Smith” interview of T.C. Boyle last night, driving back after writing for several hours at a couple of good spots. (Where to write: another conundrum for me, at least.) One interesting point the author made was that when he wrote he listened to music, but only instrumentals or lyrics in languages he didn’t understand. That’s entirely been my experience: I might rock with PostModern Jukebox when writing code, but it’s Lindsay Stirling, Aaron Copeland, and my old companion Frédéric Chopin when the words need to flow.
My only caveat, given that I’m a parallel play writer, is that writing among a quiet hubbub really helps; the physical movement of people, the cadence of their voices, and the little physical interplay help me better visualize what my characters are doing. If the coffee shop music is too loud, or the hubbub goes above a susurrus of voices, earmuff-style headphones work. I don’t usually put music on: the muffling of the voices, making them mostly unintelligible, helps a lot. Silence burdens my writing spirit.
Boyle also mentions not reading novels while he’s writing them, because he feels that the characters and personalities in the book taint the one he’s writing. Not having his vast writing experience I hesitate to disagree, but my characters have always very firmly sprung from my own imagination and amalgams of people I know or have met. All while devouring novels. But, to be fair, they’re usually a very different genre from what’s on my computer.
All writers, (financially) successful, striving, and beginning, have their own styles. What works for one won’t for anyone else. And, in my search for wisdom in how to best write intensely, I’m appropriating and modifying writing role model methods to better my own.