Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Monday, February 8, 2010

Music to Write By

Many writers enjoy listening to music as they write, and I'm no exception. Writing music is a popular topic on the National Novel Writing Month forums, and probably in other writing communities as well. Everyone has their own favourites, their own needs, their own tastes. Everyone gets something different out of the music they choose to write to.

The music I prefer to write to changes depending on the time of day and, sometimes, the weather. I tend to listen to classical music on local station WRTI during the morning, and Soma.FM's "Groove Salad" in the afternoons or evenings. When it's snowing, I tend to prefer classical overall, and when it's raining, I often bring out the jazz.

When I write, I need music without lyrics, or with words that blend easily into the background, as is common in the downtempo electronica played on Groove Salad and similar channels. I can't write effectively if I'm hearing someone else's words in my ears while I'm working. Even when I do data entry work I find lyrics or words disruptive to my flow of thought. So unfortunately, this past week while WRTI has been doing their pledge drive, I've resorted to listening to other classical music. I'd love to join the station as a member one day, but it's not in the cards just now. As a substitute, I play music I have on the computer already, like Holst's "The Planets" symphony, which is probably one of my all-time favourites. Radio France also broadcasts a classical station over the Internet. I can tolerate spoken French in the background. I don't understand most of it at the speed the native speakers speak it, though, so that's probably why it rolls off my brain fairly easily.

During National Novel Writing Month, I stumbled across Hooverphonic, a group that produces electronica that usually has lyrics. I found meaning relevant to my novel in the lyrics of '2wicky', and so now I add Hooverphonic's music to my repertoire of favourites for general listening.

If I ever write with music that contains lyrics, I tend to turn the volume down so they blend into the background. When I'm doing online roleplaying, I may want a certain feel in my background music, but I'm still thinking up words, still effectively writing, so I leave the music as quiet as I can while I'm in the scene. I did this with Hooverphonic during NaNo, but I don't write to it now that the marathon month is past.

What music, if any, do you listen to when you write? If you're a creative of a different sort, how does music affect your work?

1 comment:

  1. I have an account on Pandora, so I can create many stations based on artists of pieces I like. Mostly movie soundtracks, Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, people like that.

    I've really liked a piece by Epica called Mystica. And Adiemus by the group of the same name always calls to mind lots of imagery that I find useful in my writing.