A while back I posted some of my thoughts on the creative process, stating I would occasionally revisit this to discuss various aspects of how I work. As mentioned before, I'm nowhere near boorish enough to believe anything I have to say will be of any great value to any writer's out there, but if something I've stumbled across maybe helps spur thoughts for somebody else on what might work for them…well then, isn't that the point?

That being said….

There's a fantastic scene early in the movie For Love of the Game where aging pitcher Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) is standing on the hump in Yankee Stadium. The crowd is berating him, the metro is roaring by in the background, etc. Just as he is about to throw his first pitch, he utters the words “clear the mechanism,” pushing everything else to the periphery, allowing him to just focus on his pitching.

Yeah, it's a little hammy the way its done here, but I think it works beautifully to describe what an author endures every time they sit down to write.

No writer ever finds themselves in front of a computer w/ absolutely nothing else going on in their lives. Home, work (for those of that don't do this full-time), children, car trouble, pets, weather, sports team got beat, nothing in the fridge for dinner, ran out of hot water in the shower…whatever, everybody has something.

The key is to somehow push all that to the side, “clear the mechanism” so to speak, and allow for total immersion into the work. W/o that, the work always come off stilted, and can be spotted a mile away.

Every writer has a different way of finding this, and the methods are as varied as writers themselves. I've read authors saying they need to be able to see out into nature. Janet Evanovich is famous for saying she needs Cheez Doodles (I have no idea what these are, but they sound divine)

For me…it is music.

Each new manuscript I am working on, I find one random song on YouTube. Each time I then sit down to write I listen to it, just kind of ruminating on where I'm at in the story, nothing more than 3-4 minutes to push everything else aside for the next hour or two.

Now I know some of you might be thinking, “Oh, so he puts on some classical, a little Brahms or Mozart, and relaxes into immersion.”

Ha! Clearly we need to hang out more, b/c you don't know me at all. The songs I choose I can promise are never, ever classical, ranging all over the place in terms of background.

For example…when writing Catastrophic, my song of choice was No News by Lonestar.

Why? No particular reason. It's a quirky song released when I was in junior high that I stumbled across one night and just kind of went with. (Although it does feature a very young John Rich [later of Big n Rich] slapping the base, which is the highest of comedy. Anybody that has ever spent more than a week in Nashville has run into him at least once and no doubt has a good story to share from it. For another time my friends…)

By contrast, when working on Tracer,  I was listening to Blurred Lines. (For the sake of all I will refrain from posting a video here, but ask just that you not judge too harshly.)

There are few actual rules for selecting which songs get used, the big one being that it not be something already on my iPod (which, at 1000+ is no small feat). The reason here is that if Im on the treadmill or running errands, I dont suddenly want to have it come on. Kind of defeats the purpose, ya know?

The second one is that usually I try to use it to lighten the mood, especially when writing something intense. For Motive, admittedly my ‘darkest' work, I went w/ Come and Get Your Love from Redbone. Many of you may recall it from the opening of Guardians of the Galaxy…

And the last rule, which I'm sure pretty evident already, is by the time the book is written I don't want to hear that song again for a very, very long time, as is the case w/ this one, which just helped me pound out Going Viral..

Maybe/hopefully this might provide somebody else w/ some ideas to make their own process a little easier, and it not…well…at least enjoy rocking out to The Outfield for a while??

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