The idea for this post was recently suggested to me by my pal John Ochwat, and was also a topic in the Forums: do you listen to music when you write? And if so, what do you listen to? Does it relate to your work in progress?
Personally I don’t often listen to music much when I write, but lately I’ve been listening to quite a bit of Iron and Wine. And it relates to Jacob Wonderbar not at all. It’s just awesome.
What about you?
I make playlists for every story, depending on the tone of the tale. In some cases, if a song has a certain mood attached to it that mirrors a scene I'm writing, that song will play on repeat until I've written the scene. So, yeah. I have soundtracks for every story.
I know what you mean, Amanda! I've made a playlist that goes along with my story and I like to listen to it often when I'm writing. It helps me get into the mood. However, sometimes I find music very distracting because I like my head clear of everything so I can zone in.
Sierra Gardner says
Weirdly enough, I can't listen to music when I write. I find it distracting, usually because I start singing along. However, I grew up in a big family so I have a hard time getting work done in complete silence. I usually turn the TV on to something I don't want to watch and put it on low volume.
Cant' hardly write without it. I'm a Pandora junkie and pay the $35/year to have it commercial free. I usually pick the artist Enya – few vocals – and then the program plays similar artists works. If the song distracts me, I give a thumbs down and it moves to the next one. I also pick The Fray sometimes to start.
I've read through everyone's comments and have written down some new songs/singers to try next time. Thanks!
I'm a Pandora junkie and pay the $35/year to have it commercial free. I usually start with Enya and then it plays similar style artists with very little lyrics. I also like The Fray for darker chapters.
I've read through most of the comments here and wrote down some new singers/groups to sample. Iron and Wine will be the first. Thanks!
Can't write without it.
I'm a Pandora junkie and pay the $35/year to have it commercial free. I usually start with Enya and then it plays similar songs with very few lyrics. I also like The Fray for darker chapters.
I've read through the comments and have written down the ones that I wasn't familiar with and will try them next time I write. Maybe starting with Iron and Wine.
Ashley R. Graham says
Due to what I'm currently writing, I've listened to three songs to the point I'm actually pretty sick of them. Two of those songs are by OneRepublic–whose music has influenced my writing more than anything else out there.
But, no, I cannot listen to music WHILE I write. I don't know what it is and I really wish I could…but any kind of distraction at all disrupts my thought process. I listen to music, turn it off and then write.
yes. In fact recent studies show initial inspiration comes from visual stimuli while prolonged, sustainable inspiration comes from audible stimuli.
So I actually give theme songs to characters and environments. Sometimes it's classical, sometimes it's indie, sometimes it's old late-90's hardcore, sometimes it's blue eyes, sometimes it's the Beatles – whatever I choose, as soon as it's attached to a character or a sequence or a location, I hang onto the train and ride it wherever it takes me.
Sometimes I even sing and dance around the room like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.
I usually listen to soundtracks and classical. Lyrics – especially lyrics to songs I'm familiar with – keep me unfocused. The only time I listen to songs with lyrics are when I'm writing contemporary YA, and then I put on the U2, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin mix.
Kirsten Imani Kasai says
Of course! I've been using Brian Eno's ambient music for years. Other standards: Harold Budd, Mercof, Bjork's Vespertine and Natalie Merchant's Ophelia. Music is the wheel that keeps the hamster happy.
I listen to movie soundtrack music when I write. Maybe someday I'll have a score set to my stories. Hey, one can dream, right?
No music for me. If I listen to music, I get the song or melody stuck in my head for the next three days.
Melissa Petreshock says
I'm not sure I can possibly write anything without music playing. What I have playing depends on the mood of the scene I'm trying to write though. My iTunes is full of various playlists for all different moods. When in doubt, I always go for Coldplay.
If I find one particular song that really strikes the right chord for a scene, I'll put it on repeat and just keep listening to it over and over until I've completed writing the scene. Most recently, I wrote a wedding scene and listened to Johann Pachelbel's "Canon in D" about 50 times. Another one that I did that with was Thirty Seconds to Mars "The Kill" during an intense argument between two characters.
I also find that if during a certain scene I've mentioned a character listening to their iPod or the radio or having music on, I play the song I know they're listening to even if I don't specify to the reader what song it is. It helps me to get into the mindset of the character if I'm hearing the same music they are when they're thinking, speaking, or taking action of some sort.
So, yes, I listen to music while writing. I listen to it obsessively!
My iPod is entirely movie soundtracks… sometimes when I need to write in a certain "mood," I'll find a song that helps with this. My favorites right now have to be the soundtracks to all of the seasons of LOST. Michael Giacchino truly knows how to help you feel emotion through music.
I used to want to listen to music while I typed, but I found I would stop and play around with my playlists, or whole Itunes library. Now I reserve music for just bringing an idea to my mind. I have some songs that help me work through specific scenes.
Listening to music is like having the tv on while writing. Distracting. Which is too bad because I love music.
It depends on the developmental phase.
If I am outlining the plot then I listen to music that best matches the pace and mood of the storyline.
When I am writing, I want to hear nothing.
When I am editing, I listen to classical or jazz or screeching guitars – determined by the type of editing that I am doing.
Ishta Mercurio says
I love Iron and Wine! His lyrics are poetry.
I listen to WiP-related music as a way to set the tone, then I turn it off once I'm in the thick of writing. I get distracted by lyrics and rhythm.
Never, unless I'm writing lyrics, and even then, it's the score for the song.
If I'm writing a period piece, I might watch a film about the period, but other than research on the internet, that is the only media ever involved in my writing.
It depends… sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. But when I do, I usually listen to songs that are somewhat calm and relate to the scene I'm writing – love songs for romances, etc. Some people say that they listen to songs that are powerful and make them angry, but I can't do that. I need something, well, accoustic.
I can't listen to music while I write. For me, part of writing is "listening" to the rhythm of the words, and I can't do that with music on. Sometimes I wish I could!
Yes, I love that music can get me in the right frame of mind for a story. I have a "soundtrack" to a novel and sometimes to short stories. And I love Iron & Wine!
I did for a little while, but it tends to distract me, and I'll sit back, stop typing, and just listen. Not to mention the fact that I can hardly keep from singing along, which is also distracting. ;D
Dayana Stockdale says
Hi, Nathan. If you like to write to Iron & Wine, check out The Weepies. I get swept away when I write to them. I love that the lyrics flow into the music so well that they don't disrupt my word choice. To get a taste, listen to the songs "Antarctica" and "Nobody knows me at all."
Also, I promised not to go around begging you to read this post, but I think I make a good case as to why your next You Tell Me should be "Do you eat when you write?"
Raleigh RoxStar says
I often listen to music while writing. I recently wrote a post about this. I created several playlists. Easy listening songs like Amos Lee or Michael Bublé. A hard-hitting hip hop compilation. Butt-kicking chicks who make me feel like a warrior girl, etc. Just depends on the mood.
When I am doing a freelance writing assignment I usually require complete concentration and silence.
Kenner R. McQuaid says
I couldn't write WITHOUT music. It doesn't even have to relate to what I'm writing, although sometimes it helps evoke a certain mood.
If I'm really locked-in on writing, though, I don't even hear the music in my headphones. I guess I'm bad at multi-tasking.
K Wodke says
I don't always listen to music when I write, but I have done so. I like new age music when working on sci-fi, and smoky detective-type sax jazz when working on suspense. I should start doing that again, listening to music while I write. Of course, that would just be for fiction.
Somerset Wedding Gal says
I'm not a writer, but I find music very inspiring, so if I were to write I think I would certainly listen to music!
SONIC MIRE says
it depends, sometimes i do to get a more musically creative mind, it is pretty much mandatory when coming up with new riffs and fills for me and i created a really good thrash metal song just by listening to motorhead and anthrax, or new music in general for anyone's case.