View Full Version : Music-what helps you write?

02-07-2007, 01:37 AM
So I'm not sure who else out there uses music to find inspiration, but I find certain songs so inspirational that I usually develop 'soundtracks' for my WIPs and put them on repeat while I am writing. I find this helps to jog my memory as to what emotions I want to convey in certain scenes and with certain characters. And if it's a song that's tied to a scene that's not written yet, it motivates me to continue building towards the scene, so... what are you listening to while you write? And what types of characters match up with these songs?

For Scorcher, my superhero/supervillain WIP, I'm all over the board. A few songs that really stand out in my mind:

Prodigy-Firestarter: my anti-heroine is a pyrokinetic, so this one is obvious. It's also a good 'action scene' song, as it's pretty fast-paced

Sarah Fimm-Be Like Water: Just love the angstiness of this song, so it works pretty well for my anti-heroine as well.

Coldplay-Sparks and the Scientist: These two songs just work very well for the relationship of my two main characters.

Howie Day-Sunday Morning Song: another relationship song. I just love the lyrics-"it's not that bad, we could have died." Perfect for an adventure novel love story :)

Tom McRae-You Only Disappear: Angst, angst, angst. This song is hauntingly sad and I have a chapter named after it.

Minnie Driver-Deeper Water: Again with the angst :)

For The Gifted, my contemporary fantasy series centering around a group of high school students, I have enough to fill up about four CDs, so I'm definitely going to condense it. Here are a few of my favorites:

Enigma-The Gravity of Love: this other-wordly sounding song about love perfectly fits a scene that's not planned until the second or third book. That said, it's my favorite character moment and everytime I hear the song, it encourages me to work harder to get my characters to that point.

Dirty Vegas-Days Go By (acoustic version): so pretty. the acoustic, slower version fits the lyrics very well.

Dropline-Fly Away: Perfect graduation song. Sample lyrics: "paid attention to myself, found out I was someone else, once a child but now I've grown within."

Amy Studt-Just a Little Girl: pretty good girl-power song, and as my main character is a girl who has to grow up and accept a big responsibility and becomes a very strong woman, it fits. (I have to check my computer at home to get the artist name. will edit as soon as I get it-sorry!)

And my other WIP, Roguestar, a sci-fi comic book, needs music, as it's the newest project. So who knows, maybe I'll find some good song recs here :)

02-07-2007, 03:01 AM
When I was writing my novel, a supernatural thriller/ghost story, I played Midnight Syndicate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_Syndicate) a lot. I have almost all their CDs, and it was kind of fun to listen to while I wrote.

During one scene that takes place in the Magic Castle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magic_Castle), the main character was led past a small jazz group playing in a lounge. I identified the music they were playing as a Dave Brubeck number. This inspired me to write the rest of the chapter while listening to Brubeck's Time Out (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Out_%28album%29). (The signature song I had the group play was also heard in the movie Pleasantville, when the color started coming back, I believe.)


02-07-2007, 04:20 AM
For my first novel, the "soundtrack" was "Adapt or Die: Ten Years of Remixes" by Everything But the Girl. For my next novel, it looks like it's going to be "Glassworks" by Phillip Glass.

02-07-2007, 04:29 AM
I rarely listen to anything specific...I usually just put on Sirrus Top 40 on my television and listen to that.

02-07-2007, 04:40 AM
Classical... Actually, anything instrumental. Music with words in it screws me up.

02-07-2007, 04:52 AM
I don't often listen to music while writing. I find it too distracting because I love music so much. I get lost in it. But...when I do brave it, it is usually The Cure, Bauhaus or maybe Bjork. I sometimes write for two hours straight listening to just Bauhaus...I feel like I'm walking on the moon with a laptop in my hand.

02-07-2007, 05:41 AM
For me, music helps the writing process and since I prefer using headphones, it also helps to cut down on background noises. But it has to be music without lyrics. Lyrics will cause random, unrelated words to pop up in my WIP. Editing my work is bad enough without having to deal with that. :tongue

Sean D. Schaffer
02-07-2007, 05:45 AM
When I originally wrote the work I'm re-writing now, I believe I had the soundtrack to the movie The Ten Commandments (1956) going in the background. My reason was, I wanted to have an epic feel to my work, and the aforementioned film was definitely an epic by many standards.

02-07-2007, 10:11 AM
I have to have music playing, and it has to have lyrics. I almost can't write in silence, and without music to block out "everything else" I get too distracted. With music on, the house can be falling down around me while I'm writing, but I'll keep on going as long as the CD plays.

I tend to go with artists/full cd's versus just one song, and it varies per WIP. I have hundreds (yes, hundreds) of CDs, all loaded into my computer and my iPod so I can have inspiration for whatever I'm writing at any time.

The radio is my biggest challenge -- it makes my writing mind schizophrenic, because I'll hear one song by, say, the Foo Fighters and be off into one WIP for three minutes, and then hear a song by the Wallflowers and be off into another WIP for the next three minutes and so on. I listen to the radio when I'm working and I don't want inspiration of any kind going on. :D

02-07-2007, 01:58 PM
I start with something loud, keep with that for an hour or so and then wind down with something slightly quieter. Smashing Pumpkin's Mellon Collie is good for this.

02-07-2007, 02:32 PM
Silence helps me write. The music is in my head.

02-07-2007, 05:47 PM
With my current WIP, I listen to the "Gladiator" soundtrack. Over...and over...and over...

02-07-2007, 08:45 PM
Brian Eno's "Music For Airports". Clears the cobwebs from the mind. I got it after I read "SuperLearning", a book I though was popular trash until I saw who wrote it. Not specifically recommended by the book, but the type that has been shown to work. I have heard good things of "Glassworks" as well, but have no personal experience.

02-08-2007, 04:44 AM
I use a lot of Explosions in the Sky and God Speed You! Black Emperor for default, simply because its music that just flows.
When get to really pivotal scenes, I switch to orchestra to suit the appropriate mood.
Although, when I think about it, Explosions in the Sky and GSY!BE are beasically classical, except they added guitars and drums and maybe the occasional ambient speech.

Ah, I've rambled long enough. Go out and play, children. Let me sit in my rocking chair with my pipe and reflect on these things.

02-08-2007, 04:45 AM
With my current WIP, I listen to the "Gladiator" soundtrack. Over...and over...and over...

Great soundtrack!
I believe "Am I Not Merciful" is simply perfect for suspenseful scenes.

02-08-2007, 04:51 AM
^^^That's one of my favourite lines in the whole film.

Ooh, Joaquin coming over all masterful...*squeeeeeeeeeee*

02-08-2007, 05:02 AM
Great soundtrack!
I believe "Am I Not Merciful" is simply perfect for suspenseful scenes.

Oh it's badass for suspenseful scenes. :) I find that the whole CD just puts me in the Zone.

I'm almost afraid to watch the movie again...between the music and having impure thoughts about Joaquin Phoenix, I wouldn't be paying attention AT ALL. LOL

02-08-2007, 05:03 AM
^^^That's one of my favourite lines in the whole film.

Ooh, Joaquin coming over all masterful...*squeeeeeeeeeee*

I wish Joaquin would say that line to me...

Right after he says "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash..."

While wearing firefighter gear...

Aw, dammit...here I go thinking dirty thoughts, and it's going to be -- *looks at calendar* -- another 5 months before I "get any". DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! Stupid Navy...

02-08-2007, 06:45 PM
If I've got a chunk of writing laid out in my head (which is how I tend to work), I listen to rock with plenty of beat behind it (Say, The Fratellis or Queens of the Stone Age. Maybe Quo). The rythm drives me to get through the tough bits.
Then once it's down, something slower (at the moment, The Live Lounge Album) while I hammer it into shape.
Then "Fell in love with a girl" by the White Stripes while I shred it and throw it out the window.

02-08-2007, 08:03 PM
I feel so typical, I listen to MTV type music, lol. These are the 4 I can think of off the top of my head.

Over by Lindsay Lohan
Say It Right by Nelly Furtado
Undiscovered by Ashlee Simpson
Big Girls Don't Cry by Fergie

02-08-2007, 08:08 PM
Unfortunately, my choice of music would be opera, and it is impossible for me to write with it playing. I end up listening to the music and ignoring my writing.

I prefer silence when I am writing and music when I am editing. Since my WIP is about two opera singers, playing the operas they sing in the story actually has helped me with their "on stage" segments.

02-08-2007, 09:36 PM
I listen anything thats got a nice beat. Alot of it depends on the emotion and/or feeling of what I'm writing. The song tends to set the mood.

Right now Im trying out some tracks by "Anything But The Girl" - for some reason I am drawn to European music more than I am to the American music. Probably because alot of the American music, to me, is trash.

02-09-2007, 01:05 AM
Tom Waits always puts me in the mood, gets me in the groove

02-09-2007, 01:56 AM
When I'm writing romantic or soft scenes, I play Sarah Brightman or Françoise Hardy. For when I'm writing other parts, anything out of my wide-range music collection will do.


02-09-2007, 02:03 AM
Bruford era Yes, King Crimson, U.K., Chick Corea, and sometimes Tool.

02-09-2007, 02:21 AM
Whatever the mood of the story is the music I play. Sometimes I'll play one song over and over to get me through a scene.

02-17-2007, 09:00 PM
I like music without lyrics, or at least without lyrics I understand. That sounded strange, but if I'm listening to something with lyrics I will sometimes catch myself typing them instead of what I meant to write. I love listening to Dead Can Dance (the songs without words I can recognize) when writing.

02-18-2007, 01:56 AM
I listen to whatever I'm in the mood for. It's the sort of stuff I'd be listening to anyway, evne if I weren't writing. I just like music. Usually, it's metal. Or blues. Unless it's jazz. Or pop. Except when it's techno. Unless it's a movie soundtrack...

I can go all over. I'm not picky.

Soccer Mom
02-18-2007, 01:57 AM
Lately I've been listening to a lot of Celtic instrumental music for no apparent reason.

02-18-2007, 02:00 AM
I have Flogging Molly on right now, which is Irish, but probably not the sort of Celtic music you have on... :)

02-18-2007, 07:48 AM
I can't listen to music as I write, as that would be too distracting.

But music motivates me to write. Relaxing and listening to classical and soundtracks (Alexander, Gladiator, Solaris, Donnie Darko, Wild Palms, Mulholland Drive, etc.) - helps me think and my mind can wander. Many ideas have stemmed from the emotion the sounds inspire or simply through the time spent unwinding.

Like many people on this thread the choices are eclectic. A certain lyric or title from something by Joy Division, Interpol, Kings of Leon, The Killers, Portishead, Bruce Springsteen, J.J Cale, Bob Dylan, et al., can lead laterally to a whole new world of ideas.

And something very heavy or more robust from Black Sabbath, Iggy Pop, Motorhead, AC/DC, Ice T, Nine Inch Nails, Public Enemy or Rammstein means the change of pace can shake the cobwebs away and stimulate the grey matter. I need that and music is almost as important to me as writing.

02-18-2007, 08:11 AM
I lovelovelove music, but can't listen while I'm writing. I like to charge-up with a specific genre or band before I start, it helps set the mood. Once I'm all charged, for First Drafts I like to head for a busy public place so my conscious mind will get out of the way and just let me get it on paper; for editing, it's absolute quiet in my apartment. Unless I don't feel like doing it that way on a given day.

For the one I'm drafting now, I'm listening to the first 2 Allman Bros albums, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Zeppelin I, & Janis Joplin; for the last one it was grunge. I always have music going when I'm not writing. Sometimes I get great ideas from a mis-heard lyric or a riff I've heard a million times before. :)

Lady Esther
02-18-2007, 08:37 AM
The Gladiator soundtrack is a good one. I like instrumentals. Ennio Morricone is a good listen. Also, the Goo Goo Dolls are good, especially their acoustic songs.

02-18-2007, 08:27 PM
The music I listen to is generally project specific. I select about three CDs that I think fit best, and go with that. Sometimes I'll change one, but usually it stays until I'm finished (and it also depends on what I have that fits). I do find that often, I have at least one movie soundtrack in the bunch.

Right now, it's Cake and the soundtracks to Shrek 1 & 2 (not sure what that says to others, but for me it works).

If it is general work, then the radio works for me. Although I can work in silence too, which I mostly do for the day job.

02-18-2007, 11:59 PM
Lets see...I listen to: Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco, Jaci Valesques, Kelly Clarkson, Linkin' Park, GooGoo Dolls, Savage Garden, Runaway Love by Ludacris, um... L'Arc-En-Ciel, t.A.t.U, and Evanescene.

They all have atleast one song or more that gets me in the writing mood ^_^

Luke flees the scene
02-19-2007, 12:51 AM
It all depends on what I'm writing. A song, it depends on the mood of the song. Poems, the same thing. Stories, it's the same thing.

02-19-2007, 01:41 AM
I am but a modest Nubling, but while working on an outline today I was listening to "The most important Recordings of Cab Calloway" and "The Complete 1933-1934 Cotton Club Orchestra, the 1949 Sides". It's music that picks me up and carries me along. All the tracks are similar enough that they blend well together, but there is enough variation in there that it doesn't get boring.

02-21-2007, 08:08 AM
Has anyone heard of Arctic Monkeys? They have surpisingly good lyrical sense. I also like The Smiths, Nirvana, Pink floyd, Radiohead etc. etc. etc.

02-21-2007, 10:07 AM
Has anyone heard of Arctic Monkeys? They have surpisingly good lyrical sense.

I bet you look good on the dancefloor. :)

Right now I'm really into My Chemical Romance becuase it's official MCR month. I love those guys.

Coheed and Cambria, Panic! at the Disco, The Academy is, Jimmy Eat World, Utada Hikaru, Justin Timberlake, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, Cherry Poppin Daddys, Gorrilaz, Foo Fighters, Garbage (thier old stuff), etc. . .

I'm all over the place and I have to have it while I write. It gets me in the zone.

02-21-2007, 05:39 PM
I bet you look good on the dancefloor.

That’s actually one of their worst songs!! Listen to “A certain romance” or “Mardy bum”. They are the most complete songs they have written.

BTW, I do look really good on the dance floor.

02-21-2007, 05:42 PM
let's see...Barry Manilow, the Four Seasons, Cher's Greatest Hits, Tom Jones...
And when I'm really rolling, the cast album from Phantom of the Opera.

Bourbon Street
02-22-2007, 11:33 PM
I don't listen to much music while writing, but well-written lyrics do inspire me. When I do, it's usually something like the Doors, Zeppelin, White Stripes. The soundtrack to Lord of the Rings is pretty good, too.

02-24-2007, 05:42 PM
I'm in the category of those who can't write while listening to music with lyrics. I sing along if I know the words, and I try to figure out the words if I don't already know them.

If I need music to write (some days I do, some I don't), it's usually something classical or a film soundtrack, but I like to tailor it to what I'm writing when I can, so I've also got some Jelly Roll Morton and some early harpsichord music and a bunch of other eclectic stuff floating around the house, too.

02-24-2007, 05:50 PM
I'm writing and watching Rage right now. Hot Chip are guest programming, and showing a lot of 80's stuff. It's all very nostalgic.

wood pixie
09-28-2007, 11:25 PM
When I write, the only thing I listen to are the voices in my head.

But I must listen to music while I drive ... and I like music that makes me feel happy or relaxed.

My top three favorites are Goo Goo Dolls (I met the boys on April 1st this year), Enigma, and Dream Academy.

I also like Moody Blues, Survivor, Slade, Night Ranger, Sheriff, Kenny G, Air Supply, Bon Jovi, and well the list goes on and on and on and on .....

Claudia Gray
09-29-2007, 12:21 AM
I create playlists for each novel I write, and I listen to them while I work (also in transit, while I brainstorm). They help me create and maintain the right mood, and I can tell that I'm on the right track, writing-wise, when I've nailed the soundtrack.

My playlist for my current WIP, Delilah, is still being crafted, but several of the songs have already acquired the power to get me totally in the zone with the story (including, fittingly enough, "The Story" by Brandi Carlyle).