Do You Use Music to Help You Write?

Do You Use Music to Help You Write? explores whether or not music can help you with your writing.

I’ve been up since 4 AM. (I knew I had that last coffee too late in the day yesterday but can take no satisfaction in being right about that now!)

Fridays can be chaotically busy here at my desk, so much so that even with a full and restful night of sleep, getting through them with all my jobs completed some weeks can be challenging. But, somehow I’m managing to stay awake today though I suspect once I move away from my desk I may collapse into a sleeping heap on the floor!

My trick to consciousness under these circumstances is music—loud and upbeat. (If you’re interested, I’ve got Chicago cranked with all their hits from the 70’s and the 80’s. And, YES, I know I’m dating myself but there’s something rousing about the likes of Questions 67 & 68 and their other songs from that era that seems to be keeping me going.)

So, I know that music can keep me awake, and when I’m particularly stressed, I know that classical music can be somewhat calming. I also have a couple of CD’s here from the Through a Dog’s Ear series and have witnessed their calming effect on everyone here in my office including the dogs and the foster kittens down to the point of napping after a couple of bars. I don’t dare turn that on today!

Music For Writing

But, today, I’d like to explore whether music can help you with your writing.

Have you ever noticed that while we, as fiction writers, can sometimes struggle to accurately relay the thoughts and intense emotions in a scene involving our characters, with paragraphs and sometimes pages and pages of text, song writers seem to manage to nail the same sort of idea or theme in a three minute song? Of course, there’s no denying that the actual tunes, and the angst in the voices of the singers contribute to that raw emotion.

So, when I’m struggling to find the right words, the right themes, the right actions to show (not tell!) the emotional response of a character sometimes I turn to my love songs playlist (It usually doesn’t hurt to have a glass of red wine within reach too when I do this!) and I listen. Sometimes I look up the lyrics of a song and actually read the words. I find this exercise is inspiring and often gets me on the right track. Be mindful, of course, that you don’t copy the wording or use any part of the song without permission (How to Use Lyrics Without Paying a Fortune or a Lawyer.)

I go through a similar process when I’m writing a sad scene, and round up the tearjerkers in my collection, or when I’m writing a Christmas scene, I’ll crank up the Christmas songs—even if I’m writing it in July. I’m sure you get the idea.


So, as I’ve stated, I use music to keep me awake, calm me down so I can focus, and inspire me to write scenes where emotion comes into play. I know that some people also use fast music to maintain a rhythm as they type.

Do you use music to help you with your writing? If so, tell me how in the comments.

Photo credit: Pixbay

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