Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Setting the mood

Met some writers for a drink last week...actually, it was a writing team of which one member works his day job in Boston with my good friend from college. Weird connection, but she gave him my email and we've been chatting and he came to LA for a meeting. He's a Legitimate Writer with an agent and a film that's been at Sundance and a screenplay that John Carpenter is directing. Maybe we can help each other out somehow. And maybe it's weird to go meet three guys you've never met in a weird little bar on Sepulveda, but I'm continuing to keep the spirit of You-Never-Know-Who-Might-Help-Your-Career. (Slash be a cool person or future character.)

Anyway, we were discussing WHERE we write. One of them said he needed to be in a conference room. (How inconvenient, I suggested, since most LA apartments don't come equipped with them.) Another likes Starbucks. I tend to just write in my house because of convenience and cost...but sometimes it can be difficult. If I am sitting in my living room, the TV is generally on - and I generally don't get much done. In my room, my desk is in a corner facing a wall, and usually I pile clothes on top of it anyway. That leaves the kitchen table...usually where my cat plays with all the mail.

So I am trying something new - writing during my lunch hour. (Actually, hour and a half. Weird, I know.) I am bringing my laptop, which probably seems silly, but my work computer only has final draft viewer. But it seemed to work the other day. I am lucky to work in a beautiful building with rich woodwork and recessed lighting and wooden desks and huge colonial-style windows. Plus there's all the fountains and columns and perfectly pruned gardens - and the reliable sunshine of southern California. Maybe I'm superficial, but working in a place that aesthetically pleasing really does make a difference to me.

So I put on some music and cranked out a couple scenes. Then this real scene happened (it just seems easier to write it this way):

Coworker (who often works through lunch): What are you listening to?
Me: Broken Social Scene. I can turn it off if it bothers you.
Coworker: How could anybody be bothered by Broken Social Scene?
Me: Yeah I know, it's pretty background-y.
Coworker: Have you ever listened to Mew?
Me: Oh, no. I'll have to check them out.
Coworker: What about Explosions in the Sky?
Me: No...
Coworker: You know, Friday Night Lights...all those guitars and stuff.
Me: Oh, wow. It didn't even occur to me that a band did their soundtrack...I'm going to start listening to them.
Coworker: Yeah, it's definitely inspiring. Perfect for a Domestic Heartland Epic.
Me: Watch, it's going to change my life. I'm going to start cranking out a script a week or something.

(p.s. I can't help but love the sound of Untitled Domestic Heartland Epic.)

So where do you write? What do you listen to?


Wool in Sunshine said...

I've tried writing at work but my most creative writing comes when I'm at home. Of course it probably doesn't help that I don't really get a lunch break at work, and have to settle for typing at my desk while people are asking me questions and calling me.

I take my laptop off my desk and sit on my couch to write... writing at my desk works but I'm always more comfortable on my couch. TV is off, and music is sometimes played but not always. When I do play music it's usually a soundtrack because words distract me - right now I alternate between Science of Sleep and Atonement, with a bit of low-key Harry Potter thrown in for good measure.

Matt said...

If you like Explosions in the Sky, also check out a band called "This Will Destroy You". Misleading name, as it's pretty much in the same "Friday Night Lights...all those guitars and stuff" genre.

Matt said...

Also, on the topic of the post. I write at my dining room table most of the time, but if I need a change of scenery, there's a nice independent (i.e. not starbucks) coffee shop I love. Never crowded, quiet, trendy decorating, wonderful for writing.

Please tell me those places exist in LA. I'm moving this summer, and I'll be in need of a "change of scenery" place to write.

Jane said...

There are independent caf├ęs all over LA - you never need to go to Starbucks. I like writing in Swork (Eagle Rock), because all the other customers are also writing. Pete's coffee is pretty good, but all the branches are usually crowded. Best coffee is at Groundwork, but I think they have a two-hour sitting and writing limit and their chairs are not all that comfy.

I try to listen to music that is somehow themed around what I'm writing. Been listening to a lot of girly 60's pop lately, when I was writing my romcom feature, I made a playlist of songs with related lyrics. I also sometimes put my iPod on random - but that can be pretty distracting when Marilyn Manson or whoever comes on.

Calexico and Wilco are my 'go to' bands - am always listening to them, writing or not.

Josh said...

At my cubicle. In bed. On the couch in the living room. In meetings at work. In my car (parked...and not for a while).

I'm not big on the whole writing in public places thing, though Jul and I do sometimes break stories in restaurants and coffee houses.

It's been a long, long while since I've really listened to music while writing.

Erin said...

I say you should go to and type in whatever band you need for inspiration and then it will give you suggestions of other music that you might also be inspired by.

GiantPancake said...

I write at home. Used to be in my living room, but since moving to LA 2 months ago my apartment is smaller and I now have a bedroom/living room. So that's where I write. Too many distractions out in the real world.

Usually listen to something light, but not too light. Wallflowers, A Fine Frenzy, Jack's Mannequin, and when I get really stuck... the soundtrack to Crash.