A New Writing Playlist

Before I can write a new story, I sit down and put together the background noise. I can’t write in silence. I tried but my brain gets in the way. If I find the right music, I can get that part of my brain to focus on the songs instead of why I suck at everything I do.

I start by gathering a few songs to use as the seeds for a new Pandora station. Each new project gets a new station. The years of cultivation might not translate to the other stations, but it seems likely.

My Pandora account has been active since 2006. It knows what I like.

According to Lifehacker, the best way to make a niche Pandora station is to seed five songs at the beginning. So, I’m picking my five songs.

I don’t always use the same genre or tone for a project, but I tend to lean that way.

I keep a separate station for action scenes and things like that. My brain declares a fight is a fight. No room to argue.

Since I’m working on a new book, it is time for me to put together a new playlist.

Terry Howard’s aggressive, angry superstar music will not work for Vincent.

I need five new songs. They need the right vibe and the right mood.

This isn’t an arbitrary process, but number one was easy:

1. Smooth Criminal

I used the Alien Ant Farm cover of Smooth Criminal. The original Michael Jackson version is superior, but I’m a little worried about getting too much Michael Jackson in the mix.

In my experience, any Pandora station can become a Michael Jackson station if you’re not careful.

2. Bad Reputation

I like this song. I like Joan Jett and the original punk rock origins, but what makes this song work for me is its use the first Shrek Movie.

Shrek has a dangerous amount of influence on my life.

3. The World is Not Enough

I needed at least one James Bond theme song and all of my Pandora stations need Garbage.

That is just the way I roll.

4. You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid

The first time I heard this song, I wanted to listen on repeat while writing about a con man. The story seed was more Secret to My Success fake-it-till-you-make-it than secret agent, but it still works for the tone I want to set with Vincent Solomon.

And this is the primary reason I went with the AAF version of Smooth Criminal. Blends together well with The Offspring.

5. Behind Blue Eyes

My playlist felt too epic, too hardcore. I needed a second level of emotion and wanted a song to ground me out. My go-to is Sympathy for the Devil, but I wanted something less on-the-nose.

I ended my five seed songs with Behind Blue Eyes because… the Who. Also, eyes will be a recurring motif in Vincent’s story. He has a reason not to let people see his eyes. A reason not connected in any way to magic.

He does not have blue eyes, although, after doing research, maybe he should.

As I work through draft 0, I’ll have more little updates on my process like this. I might even add seed songs to the Vincent Solomon station.