Random Writing Tip – Music

Some people have to have absolute quiet when they are writing. I am not one of those people. I need some kind of background noise. A lot of times I get out of the house and let people be that noise. That’s not always possible though. When I’m at home, I like to listen to music while I write. For me, different music is needed for different moods. If I’m writing a fight scene, I’m not going to listen to R & B. If it’s a love scene, Metallic doesn’t normally fit. Everyone has different tastes in music so you have to find what works for you. Be careful here. If you are playing all your favorites, you might spend more time singing along than actually writing. I’m a hard rock kind of girl. There are many different types of hard rock. I have several Pandora stations set up for each type. What I like about hard rock is that it’s powerful music. I’m a lyrics person too but it’s really the music that moves me. My go-to station for general writing includes artists like: Breaking Benjamin, Seether, Tool, Chevelle and Shinedown. If I know I’m going to be working on action scenes then I turn to the station with System of a Down, Disturbed, Metallica, and Slipknot. If I need something with more ‘feeling’ I go to Hurt, 10 Years, Staind and Fuel. If there is an angry breakup involved I listen strictly to Theory of a Deadman.

I do listen to other types of music of course but rock has my heart. So that’s what works for me most of the time. For those rare times that I’m in the mood for something different I have an 80’s station and the one that plays the modern stuff by guys with whiny voices. Don’t judge. I don’t listen to songs sung by women when I’m writing. I don’t know why, but I find them distracting. Maybe those are the songs that I should listen to if I ever write an actual romantic scene. That doesn’t happen when most of my work is about magic, end of the world, dragons, minotaurs or demigods.

What about the other writers out there? Does music help you? What types work for you? Or does it distract? If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to. Be sure to play with volume as well as genre.


  1. Yes, I need low background music while I’m writing because it helps with my tinnitus and helps set the mood of whatever scene I’m doing. I can’t have it loud, though. And if someone talks to me, I might unhinge on them because there’s nothing more frustrating than losing your grasp on an idea. Oh, and my main and supporting characters have theme songs that put me right into their heads. I could write without music, but I think that writing would leave a lot to be desired…

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  2. My favourite place for writing stuff is a coffee shop. I have no idea why. You would think I would get distracted, but nope… Maybe it’s the “being alone” thing, regardless of surroundings.

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  3. If I am free writing anything will do. If I am writing a specific scene I like to try and match the music to go with it. If I plan on writing a longer period of time, I like to go for soundtracks, words will just distract me and make me want to sing with it.

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  4. I prefer quiet while I’m actually writing, although I listen to a lot of music during the brainstorming stage. My twin, on the other hand, always listens to music while he writes. He has a playlist for each WIP; his current one includes, among others, music by Nine Inch Nails, Peter Gabriel (a cover of a song by Arcade Fire), The Alan Parsons Project, Black Sabbath, The Cranberries, Enya, Tori Amos, Alice In Chains… No linking specific songs to specific scenes (although I’ve noticed he ALWAYS listens to that Peter Gabriel song first if he’s going to write a scene with one particular character: ‘Oh, he’s listening to “My Body Is a Cage” — must be getting ready to write one of Drake’s scenes.’), but instead having a collection of songs that together fit the overall mood/theme of the story.

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  5. I tried writing while listening to music for a while last year. I found it didn’t work for me. Which is a shame because I really love music. I find myself torn so much of the time between listening and writing.

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