A lot of writers, myself at times included, listen to music to get in the groove when crafting their words. Many of us have our go-to genres to clear our heads, pump our hearts, or inspire our soul.
As I was writing to the beats of one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Natasha Bedingfield, the other day, I suddenly felt like the lyrics of one song in particular were spoken just for me as I painfully squeeze out this fantasy novel.
The song in question, “No Mozart,” from Bedingfield’s 2010 album Strip Me, gives me all the feels, in the best of ways. Maybe I’m biased because I play the piano (and this song is very piano heavy, both instrumentally and lyrically). Or maybe I’m biased because I freaking love Mozart. Or maybe I’m biased because I’m a damned perfectionist in desperate search of reassurance that it’s OK not to be perfect, and that’s what this song is about in a nutshell.
Biased or not, for me as a writer, “No Mozart” transcends its ostensibly apparent meaning, which is that the singer’s lover doesn’t have to be poetically or romantically perfect in order to win her heart.
“No Mozart” happened to pop up on my shuffled playlist on our flight to Orlando a couple of weeks ago. Immediately, I felt like Bedingfield was talking to me about this novel.
“Too many things go unsaid ’cause you think you can’t say them right,” the song begins. “Get them out in the open instead of all bottled up inside.”
The intended meaning may be about a partner who wants desperately to be Shakespeare when he speaks, and out of fear, doesn’t say what he’s feeling. But from a writing perspective, it resonated with me. Just write the words that are inside, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Just write them.
Another lyric that hits me: “But we can’t always be perfect, and that’s alright.”
So I began plotting. Just plotting, not actually writing the next few chapters where I’ve been stuck for ages.
And another lyric: “Don’t overthink it.”
This last one is the hardest for me personally. I’m a statistician. My job is to overthink things. I’m paid to think through every little piece of code I write carefully, to do the exact opposite of what I should do when fleshing out a novel.
The song’s refrain also hits home: “Oh, it’s like playing the piano. I don’t care if there’s a few broke notes. You don’t have to be a Mozart, if you’re just playing from the heart.”
It’s with these words in mind — and in heart — that I keep writing down words I feel might be $%!@. Just the other day, while writing over my lunch break, I kept shaking my head in embarrassment at how very imperfect the words I was writing were.
I don’t have to be a Mozart. I don’t have to be a Mozart. I don’t have to be a Mozart.
I’ll just keep repeating this to myself until I believe it.