I posted last week on this site about the responses to my Facebook invitation for writer friends to reveal what music (if any) they listen to while writing. Some replied that they don’t—or can’t—listen to music while writing. Donnalynn Davis said, “I need quiet to write, music muffles the voices speaking to me.” Many others said their writing soundtrack has to be instrumental music, like Donna Mumma, who listens to movie soundtracks, citing as her favorites Schindlers List, Skyfall, Specter, and anything by John Williams. But others, like Larry J. Leech, don’t seem to mind voices and lyrics; he likes to “listen to old concerts on YouTube when I write. Queen, Van Halen, Doro, and Within Temptation are a few of my favorites.”
Many others said that they choose or organize a playlist according to what they’re writing. Anthony Trendl said, “So much depends on what I’m writing.” For example, he has named his Spotify playlists, “Good Grooves for Focused Writing,” “Fire in My Blood to Write on a Sunday Afternoon,” and “Moody Tunes Good for Writing,” among many.
Miriam Jones Bradley responded, “I listen on Pandora to ‘Classical for Studying’ and ‘Classical Relaxation,’ mostly. Really anything without words. If it has words, then I get distracted by the music. There is a piece that every time I hear it, I think of a particular scene in one of my books because it was playing while I was writing it!”
Darren Kehrer said, “Writing Christian science-fiction, I tend to listen to those kind of soundtracks. I try to build a playlist of moods and settings so I can play the appropriate tracks to reflect what I’m writing: Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, and various DC and Marvel movies as well. I do throw some Celtic and melody music into the mix. Music inspires the movie screen in my imagination. Sometimes, the music does the creation. I’m just writing down as I ‘watch.’”
J. Otis Ledbetter writes his nonfiction with noise-canceling headphones on. “It puts me in my own world,” he says. “Soundtracks are my preference, especially E.S. Posthumus.”
“If I’m writing humor,” says Linda M. Au, “it’s always ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic. No surprise there to anyone who knows me. If I’m writing fiction, whether humorous or not, it’s either classical music or alternative/grunge from the 1990s. Classical works because there aren’t any lyrics to interfere with my brain, and alternative works because so many of the songs from that decade are familiar enough that their lyrics don’t distract me … until I start singing along.”
Janneke Margaret Jobsis Brown says, “Since I write fiction, it’s great if the music sounds like movie background music. Kevin Kern, Tim Janis, John Tesh, Dianne Arkenstone, and Suzanne Ciani are particularly good.”
Ronie Kendig says she mostly listens to bands like Audiomachine and Two Steps From Hell. “I tend not to listen to movie soundtracks because my brain ties the scenes together too well and intrudes on my story. However, I also like soundtracks from Call of Duty and Medal of Honor, especially for my paramilitary suspense.”
Molly Jo Realy added, “When I’m working on my New Orleans mystery, I set up a Pandora station and ‘liked’ music like Jazz, R&B, and Van Morrison. When I’m working on devotions, I listen to Chant.”
Diana Sharples even chooses her music according to the character she’s writing: “I like to listen to the kind of music my characters would listen to. It helps me get inside their heads a bit more. Since I write for teens, this has led me to discover some newer genres of music that I might not have found otherwise. But often I’ll find some older music that I think the characters would appreciate. Southern Rock, especially Allman Brothers, for my guitar player in Running Strong. Carole King and R&B for my amateur sleuth in the Because… books. I’ve gotten used to hearing lyrics while I’m writing, but I generally keep the music down low anyway.”
What about you? Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what’s in your your playlist?