Mood matters

I had one of my students ask me a really good question, yesterday.  “How do you keep your tone consistent across writing sessions?”

The student was talking about having difficulty writing papers, but then again, the problem transcends all writing modes: academic, essays, blog posts, or fiction.  It’s not easy to keep the tone consistent.  With some things, the consistent tone isn’t as important: if you happen to be writing a novel, the mood may change from scene to scene.

For a short story, you really do want to maintain a consistent tone.  For a short paper, likewise.  Same with a longer paper.

So, if you get interrupted in the writing process, how do you get back into the same headspace?

I don’t know what would work for everyone, but I can share what works for me:


I listen to the same music while working on a project.

What I do is find the music that fits the mood I’m trying to create.  And I pull it up on my laptop, plug in my headphones, and write.  If I have to stop, I stop.  I go do what I have to do, deal with what life throws at me (teaching class, grading papers, doing housework, wrangling children), then go back when I can.  I back up anywhere from a page or so to a chapter or so, edit, and turn my music back on.  Puts me back in the right headspace to continue with what I was doing.

I did that with Detritus, at least until I got hijacked by The Schrodinger Paradox.  Which I’m still working on, as I find the time and energy.  And The Schrodinger Paradox has it’s own music that suited through part 1 and 2…until part 3, when I had to find something else to suit a different mood/tone.  Sometimes, characters have their own theme music.  Not as often, with me.

Mood is important for writing.  Music influences mood, puts you back where you need to be to finish the job you need to do.

Again, this is what I do.  Your mileage may vary.