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Novel Playlists – Grace O’Connell

July 13, 2011

When working on a project, I often listen to a selection of songs on repeat, which helps me focus. If a particular section, sentence, or image is giving me pause, I sometimes cue up one song and hit repeat until the issue is resolved. This can mean one listen or 100. By the time a project is done, I’m left with a mixed tape of where I’ve been with the work. This, I suspected, was not unique. And so I’ve asked some writers to share their playlists.

Grace O'ConnellGrace O’Connell: Torontonian with a novel forthcoming from Knopf Canada in 2012. An enthusiast of couches, CanLit, sailboats, board games, and bicycles.

Okay. I generally don’t listen to music once I’m really into the swing of it with a first draft or substantive rewrite. Sometimes when I’m just getting started though, or if I’m doing less intensive edits, I’ll listen to music to get things (mentally) shakin’. I read a piece at the Taddle Creek launch that was actually loosely inspired by the Decemberists’ song “The Bagman’s Gambit,” so there we go. I also have a guilty habit of trying to “score” longer projects in my head. There’s one scene in my novel which, whenever I re-read it, I always hear the same song in my head (it’s a song on the list below, too).

Grace’s Go-To Playlist

(Click here to listen to the entire playlist on YouTube)

1. In the Summertime – Rural Alberta Advantage
2. My Baby Takes the Morning Train – Sheena Easton
3. Ilfracombe – Hawksley Workman
4. Nothing Better – Postal Service
5. She’s Losing It – Belle & Sebastian
6. Books Written for Girls – Camera Obscura
7. Grace Cathedral Hill – The Decemberists
8. I Can’t Decide – Scissor Sisters
9. Chancellor – Gord Downie
10. Each Coming Night – Iron & Wine

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2 Comments
  1. July 30, 2011 2:29 pm

    Fascinating idea about using a song on repeat as the supportive backdrop of working through a problem in your work. I listen to music constantly *except* when I’m writing, but I may have to give this a try.

    • August 1, 2011 4:19 pm

      Thanks, Shawn! If you do, send me the playlist and the result, good or bad! –Dani

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