Call me crazy – but I don’t enjoy working or writing in complete and utter silence. But I also don’t like getting distracted. I need to get in a Zen-like zone every time I try and write a poem.
Music helps me whilst I attempt to express my genius and wit. But it certainly does not help when I have to change the song every few seconds – most of time it’s because a rubbish pop or RnB number starts blaring out of my laptop speakers, one that my brother downloaded eight years ago (Peter Andre’s Insania comes to mind). Therefore I want to share with you my quick tips on how to make the ultimate writing playlist that will keep you scribbling until the cows come home.
It does NOT have to include classical music
They say classical music is good for concentration, but I don’t always find that the case. Everyone is different and maybe you don’t even want to listen to music – that’s no problem! But if you do want music to help you focus, it’s okay to have songs that have lyrics. Every song does not have to be performed by the London Symphony Orchestra without a vocalist. In fact, if anything you should...
Pick songs you actually like
You should pick some tunes (probably around 30 in total) that you always enjoy listening to and not feel tempted to skip. Skipping is where the distractions start – get your finger off that next button. You’ll need it for super speedy typing.
No loud songs please - or anything else distracting
It might sound obvious, but having songs that are loud or make you want to get up and dance the funky chicken is a NO. NO SERIOUSLY. STOP IT NOW. Get it out of that playlist. It does not belong here. Sorted? Good, let’s continue.
Keep it mellow
Your playlist should be nice and easy to listen to. The less you pay attention to it, the better. Think about the music they play in coffee shops – it’s easy to ignore. You don’t hit up Costa to rock out, do you? If you do, get help.
So with these tips in mind, I came up with my own writing playlist that I think that I’ll start to use from now on. You can check mine out now on iTunes here. Hopefully you can also create a playlist that you can use to get the creative juices flowing. Hope you have fun making one and enjoy your writing this weekend.
And hey – if you found this blog useful or thought that it exudes brilliance, why not give it a like or share on Facebook or Twitter? It would make me warm and fuzzy inside.
We have finally arrived to the epic (okay maybe not) conclusion of this three part series. You can remind yourselves of what's come beforehand in in Part 1 and Part 2. But for those who have, let's crack on.
Ballad of a Hero – Kate Tempest
I have already given high praise for Tempest in one of my first blogs, but “Ballad of a Hero” is a great one to learn for its emotion and rhythm. It’s one you can feel the hurt and suffering in for all the characters involved: the inconsolable father, the distraught mother and the innocent child. Tempest performs it superbly – dig around for it on YouTube and you’ll find yourself a poetic treat.
A Subaltern’s Love Song – John Betjeman
This is a poem about hot days in the South London sun and a flustering middle class romance – and in my mind – one of the best poems of the 20th century. It tells the tale of a man besotted by a tennis player. Sure I’ve seen this tale before in a rather average rom-com....
The Charge of the Light Brigade – Alfred Lord Tennyson
This is another one that stuck with me from when I did LAMDA classes at school. The theme that hung onto me when I learnt this was blind optimism, 600 soldiers trying to cheat death in the field of battle. It’s basically 300, but a bit less heroic.
Prayer – Carol Ann Duffy
I’ve never been an avid reader of Duffy’s work but I do enjoy this sonnet (yes it is an English sonnet – look closely children) for its smart rhyme and rhythm. It’s a poem to hold dear and remind you that we have a lot to be thankful for. Like a fresh wedge of cake on Sunday afternoons....mmm cake.
Nightsong – Adrian Henri
Inspired by Lord Byron’s “We'll go no more a-roving”, this is just a nice poem to read out loud, despite it being about reminiscing the good times with an ex. Okay if you are going through a break-up, don’t learn this one by heart. Seriously. I don’t want to be blamed for rekindling thoughts of your failed relationship!
Coffee in Heaven – John Agard
A short and sweet poem to finish this list. I’ve added it not just because Agard recites it as a sweet little song, but also because its about coffee. I like coffee. Especially when I am writing. And now I’m craving coffee at 9pm....and cake dammit!
And there’s my list of 20. What did you make of it? Have a missed out anything so glaringly obvious that it makes you want to slap me in my sleep? Then drop a comment and let me know what you think.
It's been a pretty busy few weeks - so I thought that this week I should let you know what's going on in my world. All in the space of a few hundred words. Right ho then. Let's crack on!
Best Man Duties
I write the blog whilst travelling to my brothers wedding rehearsal, with the real deal taking place next week. I'm pretty excited about it - it's the first family wedding I've been to since I was a wee one. But the most exciting part is that I'm the best man. I have already done one of my two main duties: the stag do. But the most daunting one is still too come: the best man speech.
I've spent the last few weeks writing it and practicing it whilst pacing around my flat like a Gary Busey on crack (much to my girlfriend's amusement). I'm not nervous about giving the speech, but more worried about if it's any good! Fingers crossed it'll go alright. Some tears and a standing ovation wouldn't go amiss too...
Submitting my stuff
Over the past month I've decided to grow a pair and submit some of my poetry to various magazines for publishing. As expected I've had a couple of rejections already (the editor of Acumen magazine let me down gently and gave some encouraging feedback - thank you!). I'm awaiting to hear back from a couple more and find myself refreshing my Submittable account far more than I should.
If I do get anything published, you'll certainly be the first to know about it. A song and dance will definitely be in order should the day come.
Slack-lining and sandleball
With the summer coming to a grand conclusion (it's been damn hot recently don't you know) I've been very lucky to make the most of it by taking a few escapes to the countryside. My last trip was to catch up some of my school mates in Suffolk which was a great laugh. We managed to get a game of sandleball in (it's a bat and ball rally but with flip flops for bats) on a trip to the beach. With 12 people involved, it all becomes a melee of bodies flying about and frantic calling but all in all, a recipe for fun.
I also had a go at doing some slack-lining. A sport that requires balance and grace. Sad thing is I have neither. I just ended up darting across it like a gibbon until I eventually fell on my ass.
Whey – I told you all I’d be back with part two. In the second part of this three blog series, I’ll be going through 20 poems that you should definitely know of and maybe, try learning by heart. If you haven’t read part 1, WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE and give it a read before you look further. If you have, then let’s continue...
Jabberwocky – Lewis Carroll
Let’s start with a childhood classic. My first memories of this one was acting it out as a project in my drama club. I had the crucial part of a Jubjub bird. It mainly involved me walking around in a bird mask going “jub jub”. I am a man of many talents – what could’ve been?
Teach this one to children – its sheer wackiness will make them spellbound.
Sonnet 18 – William Shakespeare
Now time for a romantic classic – one to woo the blushing maids in the village. The poem compares his beloved to the season of summer, and how she far excels it in every way. If Shakespeare is referring to a British summer, then this is not that flattering a poem. An American summer however...
I hear America singing – Walt Whitman
‘I hear America singing’ is a great poem about being unique, but also about being united. It’s a love song to America and by god, it brims with patriotic optimism. It’s almost as American as Uncle Sam riding a bald eagle, whilst choruses of cowboys bang out ‘Amazing Grace’ surrounded by cheeseburgers. The American Dream ladies and gentlemen.
Let me die a youngman’s death – Roger McGough
Despite how sadistic this poem appears, you do find yourself enjoying it because of its light tone and gnarly, unique grit. It urges you to grow old distastefully and live la vida loca. Not in a cheesy Ricky Martin sort of way though...
Remember – Christina Rosetti
Crumbs - I should really stop with the poems about death, especially with a summer bank holiday coming up. I’m such a killjoy...
But his one clutches the heartstrings too – it’s about wanting to live on within someone’s memory after death. It’s almost as sad as...
Funeral Blues – W H Auden
Okay last sad one I promise! Like many of you I’m sure, I first heard it in the classic film 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'. If you haven’t seen it, watch it and feel. And I cannot end this blog on a sad note, therefore...
On the Ning Nang Nong – Spike Milligan
This nugget is stupidly stupendous. You could probably say any sort of nonsense and you would have probably recited ‘On the Ning Nag Nong’ without realising it. Apparently it is also one of the most taught poems to primary school children in the UK. And so it should be. Kids love silly stuff like that.
Right, hopefully we are all in happy place after all the doom in the second half. But tell me, have I missed anything out that should be on this top 20 list? Let me know in the comments section or on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget to follow me if you do pop in on either of those. But for now, have a great bank holiday and go large people!
All the gear, but no idea.
A phrase that I find rings very true. Particularly as a writer – you don’t need a MacBook Air or a library room in your house to be half decent at it. You mostly need a sense of imagination and an ounce of dedication. But a headful of dreams can only get you anywhere.
So, here are five essentials that might help get you started:
A word processor accompanied with a solid hard drive
I admit the first of these is pretty obvious. But the second one is a no-joke essential. ALWAYS have a back up of your next masterpiece. You’ve seen what happens if you don’t in that Love Actually pond scene...
No, no – you won’t get sexy Europeans clambering to get it back for you! It will just be a soggy, illegible papery mess. Nobody wants that.
Your favourite book
Always handy to have if you’re low on inspiration. You might read something in here to reignite that spark and remember why you wanted to write in the first place. Possibly a ‘eureka’ moment! Just avoid that dangerous path of plagiarism though...
A notebook and a trusty pen on the go – There’s only so many places your laptop can go with you. I mean you could take it to the beach...oh wait....
A pocket-sized one would be ideal just to take down ideas, notes or even that golden line for your next piece of imaginative awesomeness.
Thesaurus – Let’s be honest – there’s only so many words you know for “just” or “too” or “limited”. If your brain can hold that many words then well done – now sign up for Countdown. Whether it’s a hard copy or an online one, it’s always handy to have a word to describe these people that can store so many words in the brain. Like “smart-arse”.
Snacks – Oh, because we all love some fuel to keep us going. I’m a sucker for black coffee and whatever is festering in the fridge myself. But anything will do just to keep you ticking over. Before the hanger kicks in. Hard.
Have I missed out a killer essential? What could be replaced in my list? Hell, are you feeling a tad hangry right now? Let me know with a comment below or tweet me @wordsbadlywoven. Do give this article a cheeky share too. Farewell!
So you're here
Great stuff. Feel free to have a gander at my poetry and blog entries to the left. If you want to know why on God's green earth this page is here, click on the 'About' tab up top.