While writing, I only listen to instrumental music. My choices vacillate between classical or jazz, depending on my mood and the type of writing I’m doing. Pre-writing, though, I’ll listen to all kinds of stuff — jazz, classical, hip-hop, 40s Big Band, 70s disco, 80s pop, alternative/grunge, Middle Eastern, blues, lounge, classic rock. My tastes are all over the place. I do go through phases, where I’ll listen to a lot of one genre or time period of music and then switch to listening to a lot of something that is completely different. I get bored easily (<cough> ADD) and my mind needs the variety to stay stimulated.
So, for instance, if I’m feeling like this…
…then I’m in pre-writing mode and my playlist might include:
or perhaps if I want to evoke the bright, sunny days of summer:
However, if I’m feeling like I’m in more of a sing-along frame of mind, then I’ll crank up something like this:
or this (I LOVE Elle King who, in case you didn’t know, is Rob Schneider‘s daughter. Yes, THAT Rob Schneider.):
If I’m feeling like I need something a bit more intense to pump me up before I start writing, then I play tunes like these:
Once I’m sufficiently inspired by whatever pre-writing music I’ve heard throughout the day, then it’s time to get down to the business of writing. I need to be able to focus, so I either opt for complete silence, or I put one of the following on at a very low volume:
Any combination of songs like these can help me to be meditative, yet productive.
A whole ‘nother level to this music thing is the “why” behind a particular song and how that impacts my writing, but that’s a subject for another post. For now I leave you with these melodies.
I’d love to hear from other writers as to whether or not you listen to music while writing and, if so, what kind? Please feel free to share your favorites in the comments or on my Facebook or Twitter pages. Maybe we’ll have some overlap or maybe you’ll introduce me to something new. I’m always on the lookout to expand my music playlists.
- The Paris Review Interviews – The Paris Review (any in the series)
- Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from the New York Times – The New York Times (any in the series)
- On Writing – Stephen King
- On Becoming a Novelist – John Gardner
- Zen in the Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury
- Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
- Writing Down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg (any book by her)
- On Writing Well – William Zinsser
- The Writing Life – Annie Dillard
- The Writing Life: Writers on How They Think and Work – Marie Arana
Which books on writing would you recommend? Give me your top three.