Music to Write To

music-headphones Ah, music. It inspires us, helps to pull us into a story (whether our own or someone else’s) and doesn’t let go. If ever you doubt the power of music, just watch the Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader fight from The Empire Strikes Back without the music, and then again with it. It’s amazing what the addition of John Williams’s iconic score does to the scene, even when you’ve seen it a hundred times.

The right music can help us get into the zone in our novels, while the wrong music can yank us out of it. However, “right” and “wrong” differs majorly depending on who’s writing.

Some people need lyrics, while others prefer instrumental music. A lot of people like movie scores, but I’ve known at least two who could only use movie scores if they hadn’t seen the movies. Still other people will listen to audiobooks while writing and others will put on white noise, while other people find audiobooks and white noise impossibly distracting. Hell, some people can’t write unless they have absolute silence.

For me, the music I listen to changes depending on what I’m writing. My go-to music to write to has always been movie and video game scores. In fact, for years, I couldn’t listen to music with lyrics in English, because I would get distracted and start singing along. However, if I was writing fight scenes? I could listen to just about anything as long as it sounded like something you’d hear during a bar brawl. (This is pretty much the only reason I own Nickelback’s “Burn It to the Ground.”)

In 2011, Lissa introduced me to Abney Park when I told her I was writing a steampunk novel. I listened to virtually nothing else for the entire month because the songs fit the book so perfectly, and it was the first time I had to be listening to music-with-lyrics while writing.

Here’s what I listen to on my two most recent writing projects:

NaNo 2013 (ADA, historical fantasy)
Stardust (Ilan Eshkeri)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Howard Shore)
Distant Worlds II (Nobuo Uematsu)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Harry Gregson-Williams)

MGG&OCH (urban fantasy)
Halestorm
Marilyn Manson
Korn
Drowning Pool
Rob Zombie
Nickelback
Five Finger Death Punch
Finger Eleven
Batman Begins (Hans Zimmer)
The Dark Knight Rises (Hans Zimmer)

All right, everybody, it’s your turn now. What do you listen to while you’re writing? Is there anything you can’t listen to? Do you have a default playlist for your writing, or do you make new ones for each novel?

Let us know in the comments!

Picture credit photosteve101

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2 thoughts on “Music to Write To

  1. I can’t listen to music with lyrics while I’m writing. My writing playlist consists of Chopin and music that I, unfortunately, don’t have any information about. I’ll also listen to the music that comes with Ommwriter, my favourite distraction-free word processor.

  2. My music & writing habits have changed a lot over the years as I refine my habits. I used to not be able to write to music at all, and then (as I began to write other places than just my bedroom), I learned that I could write to instrumental music when I needed to block out other noises.

    Now I can write to pretty much any kind of music, as long as it helps me focus, and that varies. Sometimes I can only focus if I’m listening to classical, other times I need heavy metal or rock, and sometimes… Christmas carols. But you were there at the NaNo write-in when I was beheading people in my story while listening to Christmas songs :D.

    I have playlists for different things – I have one for general fantasy writing, and then a few different playlists for some of my other novels. It all depends on IF I find songs that go with my stories.

    I’ve noticed a few bands/singers that tend to show up on my lists often, though – Plumb, Skillet, Switchfoot, Within Temptation, Linkin Park… just to name a few off the top of my head, lol.

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