Guest Post: Jonathan Yañez
WRITING TO MUSIC
by Jonathan Yañez
No matter how many schools I go to, book signings I attend, or speeches I deliver, I can always count on one question to be asked. “Do you listen to music while you write? And if so, what do you listen to?” Everyone wants to know if writers have a secret playlist or a hidden power we channel while hitting those plastic buttons on our keyboards over and over and over again. As I look out into the eager eyes waiting for my answer, I almost wish I had a better, more fulfilling response. Instead I just tell them the truth: most of the time, I listen to pretty much everything.
I usually receive confused looks in return. They want to know more. They want details. The truth is, ninety percent of the time I write I throw on Spotify or Pandora and listen to whatever I’m feeling at the moment. Some names that immediately come to mind are: Imagine Dragons, AC/DC, Mackelmore, Pharrell, and yes even the soundtrack from Disney’s Frozen. However, I will deny knowing the words to “Let it Go” forwards and backwards, even if it isn’t the truth.
While I write I use music like a tool. It’s there for me as the words flow. As someone who played the piano for many years while he was younger, I almost feel a similarity between hitting the keyboard on my computer and pressing those ivory keys on the piano. Writing, much like creating music, is an art. Now there have been a few times where I really need to concentrate on a scene in my book or if I find myself grasping for words that just aren’t coming and I need complete silence to focus. In these rare instances, having Pharrell singing in the background about being happy doesn’t exactly streamline my focus.
For many writers, music is a tool used side by side with writing. Some will find it more useful than others. Personally, I couldn’t live without music and I know my writing wouldn’t be the same without tunes in the background to motivate and inspire.
Jonathan Yañez is the author of Thrive, Bad Land, The Elite Trilogy, and several other novels. He lives in Southern California with his wife and their husky and cats. Be sure to check out his blog at jonathan-yanez.com.