Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

The Writing Journey

40 Comments

Music is the shorthand of emotion  ~ Leo Tolstoy

During my sophomore year in high school, I attended my first concert. The lights dimmed and the spotlight hit the stage, my arm hairs stood. As Steve Perry and his band members of Journey sang “Wheel in the Sky” I became lost in the music. For the next two hours, I was in awe of the energy exuding from the stage. It was powerful. It’s something I’ll never forget.

Music has always had a way of transporting me back in time. I can hear a song and I’ll remember exactly what I was doing the first time I heard it. If I’m feeling a little low, I can turn on some music from the 1980’s and I feel like dancing.

The first step in my writing process is to turn on my music. I’ve discovered the right background music can magically ignite my creative process. Music helps me create an atmosphere and visualize scenes.  When I find myself struggling for the right words, I’ll listen to a few lines from a song and again, I’m writing.

Many writers find music a distraction while writing. They must have silence or somehow the music will find its way into their story or article. For me, music is one of the key aspects of my writing process. In movies, music will enhance a scene or create tension. Music plays in my dentist’s office, with hopes of calming the patient’s nerves. Advertising agencies spend big bucks for product jingles that remain in your head long after the commercial ends. Music triggers memories and memories stir the imagination.

Obviously, every writer is different and what works for me may not work for you. When I first began writing, I needed silence.  Soon the silence overpowered my thoughts, so one day I turned on my iPod and I haven’t turned it off since. If you ever find yourself struggling with your writing, I suggest turning on some music and listen carefully to the lyrics, they may just lead you down a road you never imagined.

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Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, published by Harlequin Love Inspired released on February 21, 2017 and is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

40 thoughts on “The Writing Journey

  1. Right now I am one of those people who writes in silence. But I’ll certainly keep your tip in mind if I ever find myself getting stuck. Thanks Jill!

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  2. Music is unbelievably powerful. Like you, I can be transported back in time to a specific memory associated with a song. My parents were hippies, so we grew up with the stereo blasting around us (and every other hippy stereotype you can imagine)! My father’s favorite band was the Moody Blues, so I know almost every song by heart. He died 13 years ago, but every time I hear a Moody Blues song, it triggers a memory from childhood.
    I turn to music for inspiration, but it distracts me while I’m trying to write. If I’m stuck, I step away from the laptop and put on some tunes. Maybe pop in my earbuds and go for a jog. I wish I could write with music. Maybe that day will come.
    Another great post, Jill. Happy weekend. xo

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    • Thanks, Gwen! I’m sorry to hear about your father. I’m sure the Moody Blues have a special place in your heart. When I get stuck, I’ll turn the music up, but when I’m writing I do turn it down quite a bit, but I can still hear it. Have a wonderful weekend, Gwen!

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  3. Yes, Jillian–I was totally like you when I started. No music whatsoever. But now, I tend to find “theme songs” for my main characters (especially the angst-ridden ones!) and play those each time I write. Does help you get into their heads. But when I’m editing seriously, I have to turn it off, no distraction, to try to hear the words in my head. Fun post!

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    • I’m the same when it comes to editing, Heather. When I’m reading for pleasure, I need silence also. I love that you have “theme songs” for your main characters. I tend to have a “theme singer or group” for my entire novel. As I mentioned to you in the past, my last NaNo was all about John Denver…Take me Home Country Roads! Good luck with your self-publishing endeavor. I so happy for you! Have a terrific weekend!

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  4. Hmmm – never focused on music WHILE writing – right now it’s just noise in the background which sometimes gets turned off it starts intruding. Love Heather’s idea for theme songs for characters – fun! Now that you have mentioned that blast-from-my-past (the high-pitched Journey) I’ll probably have “Wheels in the Sky” going through my head all day like one of those ad jingles you referenced!

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    • LOL! Sorry if I got “Wheel in the Sky” stuck in your head all day, Shel. Not a bad song to have running through your head though. I understand what you mean when the music intrudes. For me, it’s got to be the right music for what I’m working on or it will intrude. Enjoy your weekend!

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  5. What a fantastic idea. Never thought of listening to music while writing. I can see how that would inspire me and stir up my imagination. It beats having the Zimmerman Trial on CNN on as background noise! I’d have to choose my music carefully otherwise I would end up dancing the whole time and not writing. Particularly, if “Brick House” was playing. 🙂

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    • LOL! Whether it’s your blog posts or your comments, you always make me laugh, Maria! You might need to stick with some slow classical music so you’re not tempted to jump up and start busting a move. 🙂 I hope you have a great weekend, filled with dancing!

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  6. Writing to music is something I do at least 90% of the time. It just makes it so much easier to create a mood and become immersed in the words. Have a great weekend, Jill!

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  7. I like to write in silence, too. When I play music, I get lost in the music.

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  8. Hmmmm…I don’t purposely turn on the music while writing. I’ve got to try it. My dentist doesn’t play music in his office- I’m going to make that suggestion. However, the oral surgeon requests that you take in your favorite music. Have a fun weekend, Jill.

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    • I can’t believe that, Elaine! I thought every dentist office in the U.S. played music. It certainly helps keep your mind off the pain. By the way, I loved your recent post recognizing the importance of our teachers ~ well done! Enjoy your weekend!

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      • In addition to the music suggestion, I’ll ask them to put some pretty flowers or beach scenes on the ceiling. Who wants to keep looking at the overhead lights? Thanks again for your kind comments about my post:-)

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      • LOL! Your comment reminds me of my gynecologist’s office back in Virginia. She had all of these beautiful scenic pictures on her ceiling. The first time I had a mammogram, I remember the machine had all sorts of funny comic strips pertaining to mammograms taped to the machine. I was too busy laughing to feel any pain. 🙂 Your post was awesome!

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  9. Yes, I definitely have a similar process when I’m trying to get through a song — I reach a stuck place and then put on another song that I admire, and somehow the missing piece in my song tends to fall into place. Hopefully I’m not just stealing from the songs I’m listening to. 🙂

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    • LOL! You’re so right, the missing piece does fall into place, Chris. I sat in silence, staring at a blank screen for a long time, before I learned the power music has over my creativity. I hope you have a terrific weekend!

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  10. “Music triggers memories and memories stir the imagination.” Well said. When I first started writing, I didn’t listen to music. Recently, though, I enjoy popping in the earbuds and listening to my Pandora station…especially if I’m writing about Key West. It all depends on the scene, my mood, and whether my husband complains that I’m tuned out to the family. I guess he’s gotten accustomed to me being on the laptop at all hours of the day, but he likes knowing he can interrupt me at any time. LOL

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    • Hi Joylse! Speaking of Key West, I’ve been writing while listening to Jimmy Buffett lately….he has a way of making the fingers fly. Obviously your husband understands your passion and that’s great! It appears your daughter is following in your footsteps. I loved her latest post! She’s certainly has the travel bug and does a great job making her readers feel they are along on her journey. You should be proud. Have a great weekend!

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  11. “Wheel in the Sky” … my favorite Journey song.

    I often listen to music at work, because strictly informational writing is pretty tedious and the music helps entertain part of my brain. I can’t write fiction to music, though. It distracts me to the point of agitation. I’m usually agitated anyway, so it doesn’t take much to distract me to it.

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  12. “Music triggers memories and memories stir the imagination” what a beautiful line. Background music does help me to write. It is only sometimes that I need silence to work specially when I am giving final touches to my work. Otherwise music is very stimulating for my brain to work. Beautiful post Jill, as usual. Thanks for sharing with us. Take care and have a lovely weekend my friend.

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  13. Hmm, interesting Jill. Maybe that’s why teenagers can’t do their homework without music blaring. Maybe I’ll experiment with a bit of folk-rock, or some Moody’s like Gwen ^. Thanks for the thought!

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  14. For awhile, I used the CD “Music For Book Lovers”–a good assortment of Bach and Brahms–to level the energy around me so I could write. Then recently I’ve reverted to White Noise–the constant whirring or a fan or a CD of gentle rain–to muffle distractions, and I think that’s working better for me. Sometimes I just need to somehow “white out” the daily sounds that sidetrack me.
    I love the Tolstoy quote!

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    • I’ll have to check out “The Music for Book Lovers” CD. I understand the white noise and the rain sound effects: I can’t sleep without my sound machine. Unfortunately, if I turned it on and heard the gentle rain, I’d be ready for a big ole nap! Yes, the Tolstoy is great! Enjoy the rest of your weekend, Marylin!

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  15. I generally find music helpful when drafting. I need the silence when editing to make sure my words and my words alone are invoking emotion and not the music playing beside it. 🙂

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  16. I’m happy that you have the soothing element of music to accompany you in your writing. Love my music, too. Usually soft piano or light classical.

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  17. Great post! A certain kind of music is necessary for me when I’m writing. I can only listen to instrumental soundtracks though. I get distracted by songs, with the exception of those on the Lord of the Rings soundtracks. Those songs are so much a part of the landscape of the story, that I tend to treat them like the instrumental parts. I need an epic score when I’m writing action scenes. But I also love the soundtrack from Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version). The piano music is lovely for writing scenes where the heroine and the love interest interact. 🙂

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    • Thanks, L. Marie! “A certain kind of music.” You were on spot with that comment. The music I use for one WIP, won’t work for another. I agree, the soundtrack from Pride and Prejudice is awesome….and the movies pretty good too! Have a great week!

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