Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Staying Creative, Part 4: Get Away from Words

To have a way with words, you sometimes have to stay away from words. Walking away from words to your music player may soon bring you right back to the writing, refreshed and simmering with ideas. I would compare this momentary departure to going on a vacation from work and returning raring to go.

Music is a great stimulator of creativity. American novelist Edmund White once noted, “I’ve never willingly written a word without listening to music of some sort.” Karl Barth, the Swiss theologian, would delight in the music of Mozart as he composed his magnum opus, the 13-volume, 8,300-page, 6 million-word Church Dogmatics. Many writers these days write with their headphones literally shooting music into both sides of their brain. I used to need silence myself, but I now find that listening to non-vocal music, especially my favorites—classical and jazz—while writing inspires energy and generates ideas.

The next time you are struggling through a tough writing assignment, try listening to your favorite instrumental music and see if it helps move you along. But be sure that you’re not distracting others or blasting out your eardrums.