Feeding the ThinkBeast

I hit a milestone last night and finished my fourth novel (happy happy, joy joy). This newest is significant for a number of reasons. First, it’s the first novel I’ve started and finished in less than about a year. I penned the first words last November, got about 25K in, then stopped for a month and wrote the outline.

That’s milestone number two: this is the first novel I actually plotted start to finish before getting too deep in to back out and rework significant parts. And, as incredible as it may sound, this actually worked! Once the outline was done, the book came together in three short months (with many deviations from the original projection, naturally, but still with minimal fits and starts, as was usual).

The third milestone is that this is my first (completed) fantasy novel—though I have my share of started-and-abandonded fantasy stories clogging my hard drive, but don’t we all.

And finally, this book was just feckin’ fun to write! This is the first novel I’ve done where I wasn’t having to bribe, threaten, and coerce myself to get to the keyboard some days and put down new words. It was a nonstop funfest from prologue to epilogue, and I am monumentally excited about it!

Lots to do before this opus is ready for the world, not least of which is to finish the outlines for the subsequent two novels (this is book one of a trilogy). I also have the sticky wicket of an issue of deciding on a title, a notoriously difficult thing for me, and writing the blurb, which is always a task I love doing. And of course, many, many edits, beta rounds, critiques, and proofreading to be done, along with commissioning cover art. But I’m still thrilled, not even close to overwhelmed, and bouncing-off-the-walls excited about spending more time with this cadre of quirky and crazy characters.

This writing thing—it’s really neato.

Thought I’d share with you all the main ingredient that is part of every writing and editing session I commence. Music. The food that feeds the muse and the mind, aka the ThinkBeast. Several albums spun round on repeat on Grooveshark and my sweetie and my shared iTunes library during the creation of this novel. Like a drug that runs throught one’s veins, music tends to leave its mark on writing, I think, and subtly, and sometimes not subtly, contribute to the tone of the words you write. So here’s my list; perhaps you’ll find on it music to inspire your own writing or art-of-choice projects.

Stoa — everything
Diary of Dreams — everything
Killing Joke — mostly 2003, Absolute Dissent, and Extremities, Dirt and Repressed Emotions
Trevor Morris — Vikings soundtrack
Clint Mansell —Doom and Requiem for a Dream soundtracks
John Murphy — Sunshine and 28 Days Later soundtracks
Tyler Bates —300 soundtrack
Two Steps From Hell — mostly Skyworld and Solaris
William Control — mostly Noir, Beautiful Losers, and Hate Culture
Junkie XL — 300: Rise of an Empire soundtrack

There are lots of others, but these few were played nearly everyday. Though there’s quite a bit of moody, gothy, dark-wavey stuff in there, I swear the book has lots of moments of light and laughter! Pinkie swear.

Let’s hear from you. What do you like to listen to when you’re writing?

Happy listening, and especially happy writing, y’all!!!

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7 Replies to “Feeding the ThinkBeast”

  1. Dale Ivan Smith

    Tammy, congrats on finishing your fourth novel! That’s a great milestone.
    For me, music is fundamental to my writing process. Movie soundtracks and instrumental scores drive my writing, as do select songs. Blake Neely’s scores for the first two seasons of Arrow, Henry Jackman’s for The Winter Soldier and X-Men First Class, and anything by Hans Zimmer. Pacific Rim’s soundtrack rocks my writing house. Just the tip of my sonic iceberg, but you get the idea.

    1. Tammy Salyer Post author

      Thanks, Dale! Epic soundtracks certainly are the perfect recipe, aren’t they? I listen to Hans Zimmer scores all the time! Now I definitely need to listen to some superhero scores, too. Cheers!

  2. Tammy Salyer Post author

    Yes! I totally hear you. Lyrics have to be way down low for me to concentrate, but some beats just work no matter what. There are tons of mostly instrumental remixes of KJ music out there, too, which I tend to loop compulsively. BTW: We got to see KJ at the Fonda a couple of years ago. What a mad show! Jaz is a beast.

  3. Phillip McCollum

    Holy crap, another Killing Joke fan!! I love it (now the chorus for Absolute Dissent is running through my head).

    Music is definitely a must, but I find that I focus better with instrumental music vs. anything with vocals (unless it’s in another language).

  4. Thomas Weaver

    Lately I’ve been doing more editing than writing. My blog post from yesterday, though, was about what my clone (and sometimes co-author) listened to while writing parts of his latest novel.


    He always has a “working soundtrack” for whatever story he’s writing; sometimes he has more than one, for different major characters. (That list is for a specific character.) So I know what he’ll be listening to next: lots of psychedelic rock.