Musical muse

Many authors swear by music to sooth the savage beast that is their muse. Some folks change their tunes based on the mood or genre of the piece. Switching things from death metal to celtic ballads can mean all the difference in how they write a scene. One member told us that while she wrote one of her novels, unless she was listening to Kid Rock, the words didn’t flow at all.

Then there are those of us who can’t listen to anything that even whispers of a lyric, like myself. I can’t help myself, (it’s you and nobody else), see, just the beginning lines of a song, a hint of the chorus and that song occupies my brain. It’s impossible for me to think and write clearly when songs I know well, or even those I know a single line from, start whirling around in my brain. Thankfully I’m not alone.


I’ve posted before on the wonderful benefits I’ve received from the Women Writers, Women’s Books group on Facebook. This time the topic was, (have you guessed it?), music for writing. When I searched the conversation archives, I found many such posts. I took some time, scoured the posts and, compiled a list of the groups recommendations.

There were several endorsements for creating stations or playlists in Pandora and Spotify and just letting them run. I, personally, use Pandora, and can recommend it. My husband’s Pandora account plays advertisements (which would drive me up the wall), but mine doesn’t, not sure why, luck of the draw perhaps. Apple is also trying to get into the market but, like Spotify, I’m yet to try out their service. The only problem with this approach is that you can’t entirely control what gets played, so you may get jolted out of “the zone” by an unexpected blast of canons fire or bashing symbols, be warned.

Top Recommendations

  • Classical music, in general
  • Earlier period classical (a brief history of music can be found brief history of music)
  • Baroque (Bach,Handel and Telemann)
  • Haydn
  • Mozart (one member reported it as “hurry-up music and it affected her pace, might be good for a writing sprint)
  • Renaissance
  • Debussy rates pretty high and is a personal favourite of mine
  • Neils Bijl (beautiful classical saxophone)
  • Schubert
  • Adagios by Barber and Albinoni
  • Chopin
  • Beethoven
  • Stravinsky and Mussorgsky (for a more “punky” mood)
  • Brahms (for a spiritual mood)
  • Rimsky Korsakov (for high drama)
  • Music in a foreign language (like Kavin Kundra’s Tere Liye). Just make sure it’s a language you don’t speak.

The point of music is to inspire you and help your muse to whisper the right words into your ear. I like music that takes me away from the reality of my desk and switches of that thinking, critical part of my brain, letting the creative side flow freely.

If you have any other recommendations, I’d love to hear them.

Posted in My rambling thoughts Tagged with: , , , ,

NaNoWriMo Calendars


Planning on doing NaNoWriMo 2015? Then you need a calendar to count off those days and, more importantly, that word count.

I’ve created two printable calendars that will help you win NaNo2015.

The first calendar is your default 1667 words per day. This is your NaNo stock-standard word count goal. You can check off the days as you go with that growing sense of satisfaction at seeing your word count grow each day. I’ve also provided your weekly goal so if you fall behind one day you can aim to have it back up to the weekly total by Saturday night.








Number two is my personal favorite. Many people, myself included, start out strong with their life goals, new years resolutions and NaNo word counts included. However, we start to slow down as the days and weeks progress. Those lofty goals get pushed aside as “life” gets in the way. Not this month.







With the second calender you have a daily word count that starts off HUGE and then decreases to a piddly couple of hundred words on the last day. But, you also get two “catchup” days in the first and second weeks and one in the third week. I like this method best because, well, you know what they say about good intentions, life happens and you pave that road to hell (if you believe in hell, which I don’t, but I like the metaphor).


The other thing I like about the second calendar is that you can just ignore the daily word count goal and focus on the weekly goal. Strive high in those first two weeks and relax a little in the final two and a bit. I like breathing room, it helps me, well, breath. For those with young kids, chronic illnesses, unexpected work hours etc, seeing a more flexible goal can really relieve the stress – wait, there’s an idea.


Ok, some fiddling with my documents, another screen grab and BAMO I now have a third calendar choice – write your own goal. I’ve added a tiny reminder around the halfway mark to encourage you towards having that 25k by then. Add your own daily goals that fit around your own personal life schedules, do it in advance or at the start of each week when you know how your schedule might fit around your writing.







Good luck everyone, let me know if you find these calendars helpful, share them around as much as you like.


A few other useful NaNo2015 resources are:


P.S – has anyone seen my muse? I’m sure she’s around here somewhere…

Posted in My rambling thoughts, NaNoWriMo Tagged with: , , , ,

Top 20 books for writers

Another gem to share from my Women Writers, Women’s books group on Facebook. Someone asked for book recommendations for budding authors, the responses piled in, as you would expect, but one awesome member compiled the responses into an easy reference list (thanks Wendy):

The top 20 books for would-be authors

(you can find them all on my Goodreads shelf)

  1. Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
  2. The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler
  3. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  4. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  5. Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
  6. Write Away by Elizabeth George
  7. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King
  8. How Not to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman
  9. Becoming a Writer by Dorthea Brande
  10. Write to be Published by Nicola Morgan
  11. Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz
  12. Never too late: your roadmap to reinvention by Claire Cook
  13. The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith, Jr.
  14. Stephen King- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
  15. The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass
  16. Plot versus Character by Jeff Gerke
  17. Harry Bingham’s books
  18. Monkeys with Typewriters by Scarlett Thomas
  19. Editor-Proof your Writing by Don McNair
  20. The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman

As a bonus I’d also like to highly recommend the following, I’ve used these books a lot recently and want to give them a shout out:

  1. K. M. Weiland‘s books – Outlining your novel, and Structuring your novel and their associated workbooks
  2. The Positive Trait Thesaurus, The Negative Trait Thesaurus and The Emotion Thesaurus, by Rebecca Puglisis and Angela Ackerman

I find when I get stuck, I can flick through these books and they help trigger a new way of looking at the story, a scene or character that sparks me off again.


Do you have a must-read guide for writing or a particular book you constantly find yourself referring back to? Tell me about it and I’ll add it to the list.


Posted in My rambling thoughts, On Writing, Tools Tagged with: , , , , ,


I’ve been having much fun this week on Instagram, Jenny Bravo of @blotsandplots is hosting #booktoberfest, an event that runs for the full 31 days of my favourite month.


The rules are simple, follow the daily prompts, add the #booktoberfest and any other relevant tags, then post it to your Instagram feed, easy as.

I’ve made some lovely connections, both in terms of people and books. I’ve also been reminded of a few old favourites, and it’s only been the first week.

Here’s a sample of the posts I’ve made so far.


Mr D










If you are a #bookgeek and hang around Instagram, then come join us for all the funs.

Posted in My rambling thoughts Tagged with: , ,

Inner Critic

Tell the negative COMMITTEE that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up!
I recently posted a plea for help to the Women Writers, Women’s Books writing group on Facebook. I had completed the ground work for a new YA novel idea. After I’d put all the pieces together I realised that I really, really liked my idea. I liked the themes I was coming up with, I liked all the feels it evoked in me just from the bare bones planning I had done. Then, I became paralysed. My inner critic reared it’s grotesque head, black oil oozing from sphincters all over it’s massive, suffocating form, its overwhelming voice boomed through me, convincing me that I, me personally, could never do justice to this story.
The response from my group was exactly what I needed. There were the usual words of encouragement, the “I know how you feel,” camaraderie, but there were two awesome and completely different youtube videos offered up to me.
The first was the hilarious song Die Vampire Die from the musical [title of show], yes that’s actually what it’s called. This song had me in stitches and is going into my writing playlist. My playlist usually consists of 100% instrumental pieces that have never had lyrics associated with them, but I’m going to through this in the mix to be played at random intervals as a little “note to self” reminder.
The second clip was a TED talk  (I do love my TED talks so I’m not sure how I missed this one). The talk is by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses.
Both of these clips are completely different but they had the combined effect of making me feel better about myself and my work and inspired to continue trying.

Tell the negative COMMITTEE that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up!

Posted in My rambling thoughts Tagged with: , , ,
Has anyone seen my muse

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