Using Music To Write


I’m a music lover. I think I love music and writing equally. So why not combine the two? When I wrote my first book I struggled to concentrate in the beginning due to my office having no door (I use the converted sun-room…awesome windows but NO privacy). The kids or the cats are always in my space and interruptions were not just by the minute, they were by the SECOND. My solution? I stole my husbands super squishy and comfy Star Wars headphones and put them on. I tried listening to soothing or mellow music at first – you know, meditation tunes and yoga music, some Sarah McLachlan, Celine Dion, Dido, Michael Buble even James Horner. I realized rather quickly that unless I wanted to nod off every time I wrote, I needed a playlist that would keep me awake but not distracted.

Thus my first Writing Playlist was born. I called it ‘WritingMess’. Well, I still call it that, because it IS a writing mess, but I love it so! I have changed my writing playlist up with each project and it ranges from the above mentioned names, with a LOT of other surprises to shake up  my brain while I write. When I’m writing a particularly sad scene, I put on Adele, Band of Horses, Damien Rice, Heart or The Wallflowers. When I need a mental pick me up, I might scroll to Ben E. King, IZ, Bon Jovi, Florence + the Machine, Jack Johnson, Keith Urban or Shania Twain. For those crazy scenes or times when I simply want to rock out while writing, I head-bang to some Simple Minds, Pitbull, OneRepublic, The Naked And Famous, MGMT, Lynyrd Skynrd, Katy Perry, Fun., David Guetta, Cheap Trick…just to name a few. I rock out a lot. Constantly. So much so that I embarrass my kids and make my husband cringe at my singing. In fact, the last time I was in a ‘rock-out’ kind of mood, I actually tweaked my neck from all my spastic head banging and fist pumping. There’s also the music that helps take me to dark places when I need it…Bush, Christina Perri, Civil Twilight, Cold War Kids, Dashboard Confessional, Evanescence, Kings Of Leon, Matchbox 20, The Pretenders, The Script, U2…again…just to name a few.

I should point out – the music above doesn’t fit into the categories perfectly that I assign them to in my head. It’s the way the music makes me feel…the memories from a certain time and place when I first heard a particular song, or the way that song makes me feel today. And most of my favorite songs could fit into every mood I feel when I’m writing. That’s the thing about good music…it’s versatile. It’s there for us to enjoy.

So if you don’t already use a music playlist for writing – and you need to block out your life – try it some time. Just make up a list of songs from your library that you think may fit your story and go with it. I find that sometimes I hit the repeat button for twenty minutes on the same song and other times I have gone through half the playlist without really ‘hearing’ anything. It’s my way to get lost in my own house.

With that thought I’ll leave you with the song that just came up randomly on my WritingMess playlist (because today I’m feeling brave and the music is on shuffle)…Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds.

Happy writing, happy listening!