Screenwriting : The Sound of Silence. by Neville Steenson

Neville Steenson

The Sound of Silence.

Hi there fellow Writers I trust Monday is treating you all well. So here is the thing, I know we all have our comfortable writing routine. That special little place we go to and unleash the words. My question is do you do it with or without music? Now I am a big fan of music, especially the finer arts of rock but I can't write if music is playing in the background. Stephen King has made the fact well known he starts his writing day with AC/DC Back in Black album up full blast. I just can't do it. So what are your thoughts on this, do you write with or without sound?

Jude Calvert-Toulmin

Hi Neville, I'm an author wanting to move into writing screenplays so just in the process of researching the craft before I put finger to keyboard. I love music but cannot write with it on. We have a sheltered outdoor seating area with a sofa in where I write and the only sound is birdsong which is perfect...

Kerry Douglas Dye

No, no music for me, no human voices. They occupy whatever part of my brain writes. My day job involves computer programming. I could program a computer with the original cast recording of Sweeney Todd blasting into headphones at top volume no problem. Different part of the brain, apparently. But for writing, silence or white noise.

Neville Steenson

Hi Jude (sorry no pun intended!) I agree the birdsong is about as musical as it gets with me also. Very relaxing actually and I know I am in the safe place to do what I love to do. How are you finding the move from author to screenwriter? @ Kerry, I think you are right as we train our brain to aid our writing and for some music does not fit into our train of thought. However I have two young kids who are noisy pretty much every minute they are awake but I can block that out!!!! lol, well I have no choice really. Great to meet you both and thank you for your comments, very interesting indeed.

Adrienne Brown

Hey Neville! I can't listen to music while I write because i can't separate the music as background noise. If I hear music I am dancing, singing, or listening intently. I need noise to write however so I turn on a television series that I have seen a million times, put the volume on low, and it acts like my white noise!

Neville Steenson

Hi Adrienne nice to meet you. Yeah dancing and writing at the same time might not be so great!!!! lol. I like how you have struck that fine balance between no noise and some noise and found your happy medium. I do the same while reading a book, It acts almost like a murmur in the background.

Adrienne Brown

Murmur is the perfect word! Exactly!

William Martell

I write to film scores or classical music that fits the script I am writing.

Cherie Grant

I have a huge collection of movie music. i find it really helpful to write to.

Gordon Olivea

I like writing to Miles Davis - Bitches Brew. Sick!

Neville Steenson

Wow so at the moment silence and classical music along with film scores seem to be the weapon of choice for writers. However the birdsong and tv murmur are also helpful for some. This is a great insight guys and thank you for your input on this. It gives a good understanding that writers have their little traits when all similar are still very different. Whatever you are listening to I hope you hace a great day stringing them words from the ether to the page.

Jude Calvert-Toulmin

Morning Neville, as I said, I'm still at the research stage. This is a wholly different craft to novel writing and I'm having to learn it ground up. I've bought a few screenplays to read (of which I realise there are a wealth online, but if I have an alternative I prefer reading stuff on paper) - just read American Beauty, a film I love anyway, next up is a Robert Towne compilation and then I'll be re-reading Withnail and I (my fave film by my favourite writer, Bruce Robinson) and I've also purchased a few screenplay writing books - currently reading Screenplay by Syd Field, next up is Robert Towne's Story and and I've ordered Save the Cat, Joe Eszterhas's A Devil's Guide to Hollywood and John Truby's The Anatomy of Story, so that lot should keep me going for a while before I even start writing. I want to know what I'm doing, no point going into it half-cocked... Oh and I'll be using Scrivener which I've just bought for the purpose on the recommendation of a friend, but it's so good I've imported the novel I'm currently writing into it...

Jude Calvert-Toulmin

...oh and as for background noise, we also have a waterfall just below the decking where I write so my background noise is birdsong and waterfall, just a gentle murmur of life and movement in my periphery aural vision...

Neville Steenson

Yes Withnail and I is a masterclass of a film and the screenplay delivers and is a great example of comedy dialogue. With Towne you cant go wrong either. Well you certainly have your imediate reading future sorted and its great as it will be more tools for you to use and a good understanding. The book I blame 100% for me picking up the pen is Stephen Kings On Writing. Its not a screenwriting book granted but it shows his way of approaching each story and is intercut with his biography. Its a great fun read also which helps. A waterfall! Well that just about tops all suggestions that have gone before I think. Have a great day and happy reading.

Chanel Ashley

I find music a distraction, when writing, yet have no trouble doing so in alfresco cafe enjoying my pizza with an extra hot cappuccino, the endless stream of people and constant traffic noise does not distract whatsoever, in fact, it stimulates.

Cherie Grant

Cafes mostly distract me. I did recently write a short in one however as it streamed out of me. Still need to finish off with the polishing on that one so I can send it out. Music only sometimes distracts me. Usually I need music for action scenes in screenplays and novel. Otherwise i write in the peace and quite of my home so I can concentrate.

Neville Steenson

Okay the waterfall was great but Alle that sounds more than awesome! Makes my little office seem rather dull really :-( lol. Okay I am going to pin pictures of beaches and waterfalls around my creative hub, that should add a new dimension. Except no dancing as my kids have banned me from busting moves!

Ann Burr

i cant write without music. I make playlists of songs that I feel are apart of my piece. Example: I'm writing a WWII screenplay and I have German and US bigband playing. It gets me into a certain mindset.

Heather Pierson

I write best when I have someone to bounce ideas off, unfortunately my muse is in rehab

Amanda Toney

Neville, you should check out - it's music specially formulated to help you focus and create. I personally used it a lot in college and it worked great. It's also free. :)

Monique McGee

I need music when I write. Usually classics like Queen or Earth Wind and Fire.

Jess Kreusler

I write with music sometimes, but when I do it's almost always got to be instrumental; lyrics just distract me. So anything from Mozart to movie scores work well.

Neville Steenson

Thank you Shannon I must check this out. Monique see I love Queen and Earth Wind and Fire, just can't do it while I'm writing though I think Jess is right for me anyway that Lyrics just drag me away from my head space.

Neville Steenson

@ Heather, ha ha ha, I ain't seen my muse in a while either so maybe you are onto something there!

Jorge J Prieto

I write in total silence late at night or after midnight. I need to hear the voices of my characters in my head and I know this sounds crazy but it works for me. I even hear the sound track in my head and now that I actually tell someone this for the first time, it sounds even crazier, but I love it!! lol.

Neville Steenson

Jorge its not crazy at all, I need to hear the characters too as I find it lets the dialogue run more smoothly and natural. I am an early bird myself, best time for me is from 6am until 10am. Great to meet you by the way.

Heather Pierson

I rewrote my whole first scene to music,and the music ended up being an integral part of the first scene.

Tabitha Baumander

I have in the past written to music but these days I prefer silence or at the very least quiet. It lets me hear what I'm thinking.

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