It’s not exactly a secret that writers listen to music while working, and I’m even guilty of listening to specific kinds of music when writing certain kinds of projects (no copy/code/website buildout would ever be completed without The Who).
Screenwriter John August takes that one step further, assembling a specific soundtrack to match a specific screenplay project.
For Go, I had a mix tape with Christmas songs and rave beats. 1 For Big Fish, I burned a CD. In the age of iTunes, it’s vastly easier. Think of movies that resemble your movie, then click through their soundtracks, previewing tracks before adding them to a custom playlist.
Most of these songs would never be in your final movie. Rather, you are assembling music that reminds you of the feeling you’re trying to create. More crucially, you want music that reminds you why you’re writing this script.
A good playlist helps you get started. A great playlist helps you finish.
He also mentions he’s pretty damned sick of the soundtrack by the end of a screenplay, but by the same token, I’m usually pretty damned sick of any sizable project too.
Interestingly, he cops to using a soundtrack to focus himself while writing multiple projects (“It’s Tuesday and I’m listening to the Clash, so this must be Zombie Snow Bunnies 2“).
And writing multiple projects is the normal working state of most commercial writers.
In fact, marketing writers might be juggling upwards of a dozen projects at any one moment (no nasty emails about my slacker nature, please).
While assembling a specific soundtrack for a specific copywriting project is probably too much work for too little return, assembling a specific soundtrack for a specific kind of work might be useful.
Especially if one project was different from all the others (write copy all day, but work on that fiction project at night – to a whole different playlist).
My future includes an interesting essay project, and what the hell – probably a soundtrack to go with it.
Keep writing, Tom Chandler.