Using Music For Inspiration

Music! Hans Christian Anderson famously said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” I agree, in some respects, but disagree wildly in others.

Music has been a source of inspiration for me for, well, as long as I can remember. I have songs downloaded onto my iPod which were used to inspire some of my earliest works. I still use music now, to accompany my writing, set the tone, inspire me, give me a time scale to stick to when I’m getting my stories from brain to paper.

Have you ever tried using music as you write? Some find it distracting, but that’s probably to do with the lyrics. Why not find a sound you like – white noise, 3 hours of jazz music (actually very relaxing), dolphin sounds – and listen to that as you write? It can block out other sounds as well.

If you’re stuck for what to write about, why not listen to a song? Lyrics alone are usually enough to inspire something, but set against the melody of the song can make them mean something else entirely. Perhaps it stirs a memory you can harness and put into words.

Now this point deviates away from “music” and goes to “why Hannah shouldn’t have YouTube”. If you need a sound effect of something you have never heard before in your life, it can be quite hard to write about… so search it. Search “machine gun fire sound effect” or “knitting needles” or “sound of a tattoo” (yes this is actually a thing and it made my brain hurt). Then put what you hear… into your writing! Simples! – well, simpler than making it up and it turning out you think getting a tattoo sounds like a lawn mower instead. Which, I think we can all agree, would be much more terrifying as it came into contact with your skin.

Perhaps it has never occurred to you to use music, or perhaps you didn’t like it. If you’re either of the two, I urge you to just try it once more. If you get distracted by lyrics, try an instrumental. If you’re still distracted, try listening to it before writing and then writing after. Music will probably relax you, so you might even find writing easier!

Music is a great source of just about everything: love, sex, hate, death, war, life, soul, animals. There’s something out there for everyone, and according to this website, around 2,100,000 songs have been released since 1940. That’s a lot to choose from – and that’s released. You may find your new favourite song from a teen artist who just stuck it up on YouTube to see what would happen. And perhaps that’ll be the story of how you’re next best seller was born: a musical prodigy.

Using Images For Inspiration
Using Words For Inspiration

Using Images For Inspiration

Using Images for Inspiration

Images, be it from pictures, artwork, or an impression you gain from someone (this is the actual definition), can be a great source of inspiration for your writing. Take this one, that I found on Tumblr yesterday and managed to get two stories out of:

Image courtesy of Tumblr
Image courtesy of Tumblr

It doesn’t seem like much, but when you use the 5 W’s and 1 H, you suddenly get so much out of it.  (Those 5 W’s and 1 H are, by the way: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.)

And, better still, whatever you create from the image you find is completely, utterly and entirely yours to use as you will, with no copyright issues! Yay!

A great place, I’ve found, for picture prompts is Tumblr, but you can also try Pinterest, We Heart It, or just about any photo sharing site. If you’re looking for a specific topic – such as animals – then you can use Google Images (so, “cats in hats” would make for an interesting story or article!), but this can be a bit vague and give you lots of word prompts if you just search “writing prompts”.

Basically, images give you so much. I got two separate stories, with the MC even in different stages of life (ok so in one she was murdered and the other sleeping) from the picture above. Imagine what you can do with two images, or five!

And here’s some pictures from my ‘Prompts’ folder on my laptop for you to enjoy:


Next week: word prompts and a really cool word prompt generator…thing. (Of course I am a writer with a vast array of vocabulary, what are you talking about?!)