November 9, 2010

Writerly Playlists

Do you listen to music when you write? 

If so, how do you do it?!

I'm one of those writers who can only write in silence. I suppose my poor little brain operates on one single frequency: I can work on my book OR listen to music but I certainly can't do them both. If I try, my mind gets all addled and my writing turns into mumbo-jumbo like this: 

"Delphine the zebra traveled to the watering hole one morning in hopes of taking a long drink. Before she arrived at the watering hole, however, she ran into Captain Picard who decided to beam Delphine aboard the Starship Enterprise. Delphine couldn't believe her luck! You see, she had watched Star Trek on her jungle television for many years and now she could finally travel through the stars with gorgeous Han Solo by her side." 

Yep, mumbo jumbo. 

So...what do you like to listen to whilst penning your novel? Or are you like me and require absolute silence while writing your masterpiece?


  1. I write while in silence, or while writing to music with words in it. I struggle more with the writing when I have easy access to video games and television. Today at the library I cracked out 2500 words without distraction.

  2. I really like background noise. People talking in a coffee shop or restaurant works well for me.

  3. I totally can't write while listening to music -- even classical music distracts me. BUT, I do love listening to music during a pause. I'll write a page or two, listen to a song, write another page or two, etc. The music does help keep me in the right mood.

  4. I'm way too conscious of lyrics when I listen to music. I love, love, love composing soundtracks for my characters/books, but I can't have them on while writing the dang thing. The only words in my head need to be my own.

    Glad I'm not alone!

  5. Silence. I just can't think when there are other words streaming into my ears LOL!
    Sometimes I use music to get into the mood to write though:)

  6. Any music was fine for me, even Metallica worked. Now though, I only listen to classical or choral stuff when I write. No lyrics to distract.

  7. Jeffrey, wow! You had a productive day at the library! Maybe I should head to the library too sometime. I get waaay to distracted by my TV as well. :)

    Mike, I love writing in coffee shops too! Plus, I get to sip on a yummy drink while I write.

    Jennifer, that's a great idea to use music during a break in writing! Never thought of that.

    Corinne, wahoo! Another writer like me! I've never made a playlist for my books though. Does it help you with your WIP?

    Lindsay, I love the idea of using music to get in the mood for writing. I wonder what I should download for my own book? Hmm.

    Ian, sometimes I let myself listen to classical music while writing too! I also like listening to movie theme songs.

  8. Silence! We should write together sometime; it will sound like this:

  9. I can't write with music on, unless it's playing in the background in a coffee shop. But I love creating WIP playlists that I listen to while walking home from the metro, or in the afternoons at work, to put me in the mood of the WIP. For Thrice it was a lot of Snow Patrol and Florence + the Machine. Not sure yet about the new WIP. Possibly Mumford & Sons and the Swell Season and Frightened Rabbit.

  10. I can't really have distractions when I write. I've been tempted to shut off the internet to restrict my access to email and such, but I refer to it for details a lot and I've recently started enjoying Pandora. I usually play a station with Danny Elfman or John Williams. Moody, but no words to distract.

    Although I'm writing a book set in the 50's for NaNoWriMo, and I've really enjoyed listening to music from that era for it.

    Check In To The ROUS Motel!

  11. OMG, my geek brain is exploding at the sight of Captain Picard and Han Solo in the same narrative. *BOOM*


    I'm like you, I can only write in silence. Especially with songs with lyrics, the words get into my head and I often start typing them instead of my own words. Very occasionally I can manage it with instrumental scores, though often I get just as distracted. I remember what was happening in the movie/play/whatever during this particular track, and I start thinking about that instead of my story.

    In other words? Ooh, something shiny!

    I do, however, often have playlists associated with various WIPs that I listen to at times when I can't write--while driving, for instance. I start brainstorming away and it keeps my mind in the headspace of my WIP, so that when I next sit down to write I'm already there.

  12. Playlists are a huge help for me. Putting them together often makes things about my characters click, and listening to them afterward puts me right back into the mood of the book.

    For example, there was one book I already had a soundtrack for, but which I didn't plan to start until 2011 some time. On August 1st, I listened to the soundtrack for the first time in ages. That night I woke up and spent several hours jotting down notes for the book. The next day I started writing it. By the end of the month I had over 56k.

    Soundtracks. Can't trust 'em. ;)