M is for…Music

I almost exclusively write while listening to music. Granted, sometimes 30 minutes will go by and I will have no idea what’s been playing, but music serves as a necessary distraction, occupying part of my mind so the other part can write.

In addition to being distracted by music, I’m also inspired by it. When I wrote about inspiration last week, I noted that some kind of deep, emotional resonance draws me in. There are a number of songs in my iTunes library that have directly inspired scenes, characters or entire stories.

And finally, I confess that OF COURSE I daydream about hearing a particular track during a scene in one of the many movies that will be based on my books.

Here are some of my favorite tracks:

DLZ by TV on the Radio – I fell in love with this song when they played it during the “Stay out of my territory” scene on Breaking Bad (warning, the link to the video has show spoilers). I love the pulsing beat, the lyrics (“never you mind, death professor” – how great is that!) and the relentless vocals. I often listen to this when I first sit down to write and let it pull me down the rabbit hole.

 Heaven When We’re Home by The Wailin’ Jennys – This lovely song (by one of my favorite groups) might have been written by one of my main characters. It speaks of journeys, of discernment, of being kind to ourselves. Also, if I suffer from an occasional night of insomnia, I often remember this line the next day: “I’ve been up for way to long and I’m too tired to sleep.”

Fire by Bruce Springsteen – Love this song, full of yearning, desire, hope, delicate longing. Love Bruce and all his Bruceness. Not surprisingly,  I often listen to this song when I’m writing romantic scenes.

Do you listen to music when you create? What are some of your favorite songs?

6 thoughts on “M is for…Music

  1. I love the Wailin’ Jennys song that you referenced. It’s so plaintive and lovely. I listen to music when I write, too, but I cannot listen to anything with lyrics as I find lyrics begin to mix with my own words, and then I become confused. I listen to Kitka (a women’s group based in my hometown, Oakland, that vocalizes Eastern European sounds) or Keiko Matsui (a jazz keyboardist) or Bach Brandenburg Concertos. When I’m desperate, I break out the Enya.


    • Enya is also my go-to desperation music! Sometimes I go all out and stream yoga music playlists on Amazon. I’m going to look into Kitka – that sounds really cool. Nice to find other Jennys fans, too.


  2. I’m the same I always listen to music when writing but most of the time I don’t actually listen to it: it’s background noise that helps me get into a bubble of concentration. That’s why I often just have a few songs on loop. Funnily I find silence to be more distracting!!


    • I also do the loop! Drives my partner nuts. 🙂 Once I listened to a Travis song something like 300 times in a couple of days. (Thank you, iPod stats.) I agree about the silence – it can be much more distracting than anything.


  3. I credited my writing soundtrack in the dedication page of one of my books, since I couldn’t have written that book without help from my Hollies’ and Four Seasons’ soundtrack. I was really surprised at the majority soundtrack I ended up having for my second Russian historical, but it worked so well, I had to use them again when writing the massive third book. I even mention it in the dedication page, “Once again, credit where credit is due. I could never have gotten through this massive book without my wonderful writing soundtrack. Giving my longtime secondary character turned main character Ródya the surname Duranichev was my humble way of saying thank you.” When I saw that name in a list of Russian surnames, I knew it had to be Rodya’s name!


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