Behind the scenes: On setting the right writing mood

Note: This is the first of six posts going behind the scenes of my writing process — what inspires me, the way I work, and how I recharge. I hope you’ll have as much fun on the journey as I do!

Confession time: You’ll never see me posting a playlist of the music I listen to while writing. Because there isn’t one.

I am amazed by writers who can work with music playing. The ones who set their writing mood through their playlist? Clearly some sort of wizardry.

I forget -- what was that idea again?

For me, music and writing don’t mix. Both are immersive, emotional experiences.

If I have music on, I will sing. I will get caught up in the lyrics and flow through time and space wherever they take me. Once I plug into the music, I can’t plug into the creative writing space in my brain; that slot is full. Too many peripherals and not enough USB ports for them. 😉

Quiet time and space; that’s what I need to hear the characters who inhabit my books. Their voices politely demand my attention, spilling out thoughts and dreams — as long as I’m not too distracted to listen.

Driving, though — yup, I’m that person singing my heart out at the red lights. Could be The Beach Boys, could be Steve Miller Band, could be ’80s-era Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, could be RHCP and Foo Fighters, could be Lupe Fiasco or the latest mashup from DJ Earworm.

Lately, my playlist has been full of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Liz Longley, two fabulous singer-songwriters who pour heart and soul into their music. I can only hope my books are as emotionally affecting as their songs.

What are you listening to this summer?

Going behind the scenes

See the end result of M.Q.’s process of quiet reflection in the Neighborly Affection series and the Gentleman series. Her next book is An Accidental Gentleman, out August 16, 2016.

M.Q. Barber

M.Q. Barber is the USA Today bestselling author of the Neighborly Affection contemporary romance series. She's also an inveterate, unrepentant scribbler of ideas on whatever's handy.

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