There’s something I used to be a big proponent of and have only just started getting back into (in terms of writing): ambient music. And I don’t mean some Brian Eno tracks or the OST to Elder Scrolls, which for a long time have been my usual auditory watering holes. Those are still my go-to’s for sitting down to read a good book, work on my maps or notes, but for a while my writing music has evolved from soundtrack to simulation.
A few years ago (read: lifetime ago), I started listening to a dark ambient artist by the name of Atrium Carceri while working on some horror material. And I noticed right away that it wasn’t all drone and bass beats or Latin choruses over eerie strings. Sound effects comprised a fair amount of the instrumentation…buoyed by Latin choruses and eerie strings and drones. But it heightened the experience. At night, a few drinks in you, and you could *almost* convince yourself that you were writing that piece behind a barricaded door in an abandoned house or factory or mansion. It worked shockingly well.
It’s been a while since I’ve tried my hand at horror. I plan to do so again soon. In the interim, however, I’ve turned to using these for my current projects:
…and many more.
If writing were anything like Inception – and it really is, let’s be honest – this would be going a level deeper. Instead of using ambient music to just get you in the mood or what have you, you can now pretend you’re writing a story in the setting of the story you’re writing. How’s that for fucked? And there’s tons of these. A dark room with appropriate lighting (a candle for Fantasy, some weird ass lava lamp for sci-fi) and you’re golden. If you’re really feeling saucy, you can pair these ambient tracks with an appropriate choice of music. I will admit to being enough of a nerd to find the most Blade Runner-y jazz music to play in tandem with Decker’s Apartment Noise and then adjust the volume levels of both until it sounds like I’m in the apartment, but the song is in the background.
I frequently have trouble focusing these days when I get home from work or late-night meetings, etc. and seriously advise anyone suffering from the same to use this to drop you into the mood. And for those really feeling the Blade Runner Blues, a few drops of something that is not tea or coffee into your tea or coffee never hurts. I hope this methodology works as well for you as it has for me.
Godspeed in dreamland, friend-writer.