Tune in or Turn Off?

NY Rt 30This week’s long run brought to you by the Adirondack Mountains: Where All Roads Lead to Hills. I’m not going to say much about yesterday’s long run except that a). I’m grateful my husband got me through the first hour and b). I’m glad it’s done.

Well, okay, I’ll say a little more than that. I’d gotten it into my head to get the long run out of the way, but I didn’t leave the house until after 11 a.m. To those of you who have trained for marathons, you’ll groan with me. I was hungry for lunch almost as soon as I left! I had a handheld bottle of Gatorade, but that was it. The heat and the hills made quick work of me. The run, which was scheduled to be 13 miles ended up at only 12.35. That long run marked the end of Week 5 of marathon training and even though the run yesterday was rough, I feel good today and that tells me that I’m training well. Some of you will remember that I boldly stated a few weeks ago that I would start a new novel along with the marathon training. Though I logged in all but .65 miles of the scheduled 32 miles this week, I wrote nary a word.

In my defense, it’s been a busy week what with last minute appointments before the kids start school and I return to work. The good news is that I have been thinking about the story a lot. The villain finally started talking to me and now I have a sense of his motives and background. But when he started talking, my main character started talking, too and she seems to be telling me to start the story in an entirely different place than I have started it. Also, she seems to be telling me to write in first person, something I’ve never attempted.

It seems like perfect timing to give it a shot because my friend, fellow blogger and VCFA grad Laurie Morrison just started this series about first-person narrators. I’ve long struggled with voice in my writing — that elusive element of great fiction writing. There are days when I think that I’ll never nail it, but as a friend told me on the phone the other night — I’ve caught the writing bug whether I like it or not and there’s no turning back now. So, I think that attempting a novel written in first person might help me in my mission.

iPod As I sit down to write, I have a question for you. What gets you through difficult moments of writing or workouts? Sometimes I listen to music while I’m writing, but not all of the time. I often listen to music while running, but not always. I know people often fall on one side or the other on the topic of earbuds and writing or running. Some folks simply find it unsafe to run with earbuds, though I’ve never heard anyone raise that issues with writing. *grin* Others, though, seem to see music as an interference, something that mars the purity of the run or the writing.

Music keeps me company when I’m running, though it’s just sort of something playing in the background of my thoughts. I don’t usually listen to music when I’m running on trails or in nature. I like to immerse myself in those environments. In terms of writing, I always have earbuds when writing in a cafe or with writing friends. The earbuds are my signal to myself and others that I’m working. In this case, the music drowns out ambient sound that might otherwise distract me. I cannot listen to music when I’m revising, though, only when I’m drafting new scenes.

But here’s the other thing — I’m passionate about music. I mean, next to a great cup of coffee, three awesome songs in a row on ‘xpn can make my day. Lately, I’ve wondered if people who see music as interference simply don’t love music as much as I do. How about you? Does music help or hinder your experiences?

(image of Rt 30 from nyroute30.com via google. image of iPod my own)

4 responses to “Tune in or Turn Off?

  1. Well, I voted, but I need to say more, because when it comes to running or walking, I absolutely need (as in won’t even think about doing it without) music. When it comes to writing, I can’t have the quietest melody near me. Music is a strong, heady muse for me. I love it. But it is too strong and interferes with my writing. I can’t hear emotion or sense gesture or feel the beat of reality when music is there. So, I would have ticked two boxes in the survey above. Music provides the soundtrack to my runs AND Music interferes with the muse. They are both true for me.


    • Thanks for commenting, Sandra. The poll is clearly too simplistic for folk like us! It is only recently that I would even entertain running with no music and I’m finding that I enjoy it! I’ve definitely heard what you say about the music interfering with the writing. I think Tim Wynne-Jones or maybe Tobin said that they would find that excellent music made the writing seem better than it was 🙂


  2. When I’m on a walk, I enjoy my tunes. But when I’m writing, I don’t think about music so much, unless a soundtrack comes to mind. I can’t write with songs playing, because I get too distracted.

    If I’m puttering around with the manuscript, i.e., adjusting chapter numbers, proofreading and such, music helps.


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