Music for Writing

Music for Writing

To say I love music would be an understatement. As a child I spent hours recording songs as they played on the radio. Much of my allowance went to buying cassette tapes. Waves of excitement would wash over me as I hit record every time a new song came on the radio. When I got older I became obsessed with CDs and built a pretty enviable collection. Digital music came along, and my collection was growing exponentially until the option of music subscriptions. With some now, like Amazon’s Music Unlimited, you can listen to pretty much anything you want whenever you want. I buy much less music as a result.

This blog post is not about collecting music. Maybe I will devote another one to that topic later. Rather, I would like to rattle on a little about using music while writing.

Are you a writer? Do you play music while writing? If so, what music do you turn to?

My music tastes are very eclectic, largely decided by the mood I am either in or want to be writing about. If I am dabbling with a bit of romance, Adele or Dido might be my artist of choice. Dealing with confrontation I may turn to something a little angrier. Two of my fallbacks are Linkin Park and the heavier tracks from Evanescence. A mellow passage might turn me to Josh Groban, Sarah McLachlan or Enya. Looking to be happy or humorous, I may call on Michael Bublé.

Editing, we all know how painful it can be, typically points me to something without words so I can concentrate fully on butchering my work. My favorites are piano based, but there are many orchestral ones as well. There is a techno old favorite, David Arkenstone’s In the Wake of the Wind, that has been with me for decades. The soundtracks to A Beautiful Mind and Pride and Prejudice are also calming favorites.

I am not stuck in the past as many of the above references might imply. Streaming today’s pop, alternative and country stations frequently create the right mood or desire. Much of today’s music draws me, but a good playlist is like comfy slippers and a well-worn cardigan. Hence, I find myself returning to old friends often.

Perusing my digital playlists, I seem to be drawn to certain themes. Many of the songs in my collection have “home,” “breathe” or “rain” in the title. It remains a puzzle as to what that means. Still, I am fascinated by the fact that I am drawn to songs with similar subjects.

At times, rare as they may occur, I may turn off all music. Sometimes the voices in my head need to speak clearly for me to get through a particularly challenging passage. The silence does not last long. While it helps to focus momentarily, I tend to find myself drifting mentally or inclined to walk off and do other things. The music comes back on and I can (mostly) focus again. Music helps to drown out some of the lesser voices that are not needed in the moment.

Music is an important part of my writing ritual. What rituals are important to you?

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