music + writing

I listen to music.

I listen to music all the time.

I listen to music on iTunes, in headphones, through my CD player, from my iPod, I sing it in the shower and at the park, I play it on the piano. I’m something of a music freak. Most importantly, though, I listen to it while I’m writing. Writing in silence is something I don’t much fancy, even though I can – but when I do, it doesn’t quite have the zing that it would otherwise.

A lot of people listen to music just to fill in the silence. I listen to music to feel things, even when I’m not writing. I have songs I listen to when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m depressed, when I’m relaxed – and I have songs I listen to when I want to feel the opposite of how I do at any given moment.

Music has an effect how we feel, and how we feel has an effect on our actions. That’s why I create playlists for every novel I’m currently writing, and each one has a different theme. This is what the my iTunes home looks like. 


If you look at the list of playlists on the left, you’ll see I have one for every novel I’m currently writing. If you were to look at them, you would see that they all have very different songs in them. For instance, Acceso’s playlist is full of darker, heavier, more depressing and deep-lyriced (lyriced? Pretend it’s a word, okay) songs that solidify my Acceso mood when I write. It has songs by Skillet, Daughtry, the GazettE, and One OK Rock.


 The Meaning of Always has a playlist that looks quite different, being a more summer-themed, romantic story of getting past hardship and regaining faith. It’s much more cheerful than Acceso. It has songs by One Direction, Taylor Swift, Francesca Battistelli, David Archuleta and Owl City.


Thirty Percent Human (don’t get excited, it’s only a brainstorm) is more futuristic/cyborg oriented, so the playlist includes songs like “Humanoids” by TVXQ, “Robot” by C.N.Blue, and epic scores with futuristic sounds.


The Diamond Mask has a more gothic theme (once again, it’s only a brainstorm) so I have songs by Evanescence, Within Temptation, Romeo, and Hayley Westenra.


I have a playlist called ‘Sweet’ which is mostly made up of OSTs and nice, calm, cheery love songs.


All of these playlists are designed with the specific purpose to enhance my mood while writing a certain book. It’s like drugs without all the negative side effects (unless you count the fact that listening to depressing music might turn your mood a nice shade of blue, or listening to peppy-bouncy music might make you behave a bit like Pinkie Pie). Music is a powerful tool, especially while writing. Take it from me and don’t try and write a cheerful scene while listening to Day of Fire, and don’t try to write a heart-wrenchingly sad song while listening to B1A4. You’ll be working against yourself.

So in short, happy music = happy mood, sad music = sad mood, music + writing = a match made in heaven, if you use it well. What about you? Do you create playlists for your novels? Have you ever tried to write with clashing music and had it turn out as a horrible mess, or does it not bother you at all?


21 thoughts on “music + writing

  1. I love learning what other writer’s listen too whilst writing, it gives me ideas and helps me broaden what I listen too. lol I must say though when seeing your new titles I get excited and then you said don’t get excited and I was like: 😦

  2. I only just recently started making any sorts of playlists for my stories. I did a few during NaNo that were unofficial, just to get the mood for a scene. But I made one for Tare’s story recently. 😀 (So. Close. To. Finishing.) You wouldn’t think it, but Gollum’s Song from the Two Towers credits is on there. XD

    And whaddayaknow… You have a similar title to one of my books. O_O The Diamond Mask…? *dies* Ohwellgreatmindsthinkalikeorsomething.

  3. Wow, I loved seeing your playlists! I’d like to get an iTunes account, but it’s the same as it is with Tumblr: Mom says, “Blog, Pinterest, Gmail, ENOUGH FOR A 13 YEAR OLD!!!” XD I need to put together some playlists on my computer…if I can figure out how. It’s been ages since I’ve tried and it takes FOREVER to do, and to modify. 🙂 You’ve given me some awesome ideas tho!! Thanks, Miriam!

  4. I don’t much listen to stuff with lyrics, mostly because I tend to focus on singing the lyrics and I might accidentally write down the lyrics instead of what I need to actually write down. I usually use movie instrumentals instead (because I’m a band nerd and like instrumentals). I’ve got the scores of movies like The Avengers, National Treasure, Narnia, and Lord of the Rings, but I’ve also got the scores for Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo, and Brave. I’ve even got the scores for games like Assassin’s Creed. And then I arrange the songs into playlists that I make for fighting scenes, party scenes, happy scenes, sad scenes, etc etc. Music always helps me get in the mood for the scene I’m writing.

    • WOOOT! I have Narnia, LOTR, National Treasure and the Avengers, too! I have some gaming music, and a little Disney. You have to just love music; there’s some for every mood!

  5. I wish my library was that diverse. I’m still working on it. I will get ALL the soundtracks! haha There are so many songs out there that I want. I need more money and more space. Ah. The problems of a first world life. I do make playlists for my novels but they’re not complete yet. So many songs need to be filled in. haha

    I noticed a reference to Pinkie Pie. Do you by any chance watch MLP:FiM?

    • ALL the soundtracks! YES! Man, that would be awesome. One soundtracak I am DYING to have is RED, but…alas. I don’t have it. Le sigh. I don’t watch MLP, but I’ve been compared to Pinkie Pie before by my friend, Jenny. 🙂

  6. My books usually branch through many moods so I don’t have any specific playlist…and I’m too lazy to make any. :p usually I just scroll through the list till I see something I feel like then click it and let it shuffle from there. If something turns in that’s not quite right I’ll skip it but more often it just influences the mood a bit so I might change pov. If all else fails, soundtracks. (usually two steps from hell is my first stop) I’ve got virtually all types of music though. 😉 except blues I think…
    Anyway I’ve found songs influence the mood and the context influences the mood the song gives off, as a song can give different mods at different times. So it channels both ways.

  7. Ahhh, you misspelled Hayley’s name! :O
    Oh, and did you mean to make the following how is or like this: “don’t try and write a cheerful scene while listening to *Plumb’s* Cut,”?
    Cut is a sad but powerful song…

    I may be not much goo as a writer, but I can probably think of some music suggestions for various moods. 🙂

    • I actually meant ‘Day of Fire’ and I don’t know how Plumb Cut got in there O_e I think they have a song called Cut and Run, that’s why….aii, my brain. XD You’re excellent with music *nod*

  8. Ohhhh, I love music all the time too. 😀 And I’m very thankful for the invention of headphones, because back in the days of just cassette tapes and stereos (heh, we even had an old record player for a while…my older brother and I have certain phrases ETCHED into our brains from when the records used to get stuck *shakes head*), I used to annoy my family to pieces. Actually, they’d generally just turn the music off and say they all needed to think without Sousa marches playing. 😛 No fun.

    So of course I write with music when I can…though lately I’m back to scribbling odd scenes during lectures. 😛 (Hee, and the scenes do get ODD when you’re getting into molecular and developmental biology.) XD It totally does make a difference though, even if I can write in the midst of chaos or while listening to a lecture, music is way more fun. And I’ve had at least one story where pretty much every plot point was inspired by a song. 😀

  9. Lately I’ve been giving my characters theme songs, something that says “this is his/her personality” or “this is what he/she learns in the story” or both. ha. Then I have songs that inspire certain scenes or attitudes within the story. I’ll listen to that song on repeat to get into the mood, usually. But so far I only have one story that has an entire playlist…
    Just showing that music can be used in different ways for writing 🙂

  10. I love having music when I write, but I haven’t taken the time to make any sort of playlist for anything yet. Though, there has been many a time when a song comes on somewhere and I immediately think of a certain character, scene, or even overall project. I don’t specifically go for music a lot of the time when I write, I generally just need some sort of background noise that won’t be too distracting to myself. Pandora, YouTube, or the TV are usually what I go for, depending on what mood I’m in and if I have a specific idea of what sort of thing I want to listen to or not. It’s really neat to be able to take a closer look into your mind by seeing some of what you enjoy listening to!

  11. I love music! I have a playlist for all of my novels and work-in-progresses and random ones made for certain moods. I find that once I’m really in the writing zone, I don’t care as much if the music clashes with what I’m writing, but if I just can’t get to that writing space in my head, I’m very finicky about the music. Oddly enough, when I do get into that perfect writing zone, I sometimes want something like the Sound of Music or the Hairspray soundtrack to be on in the background, something happy that I don’t have to focus on. I think it makes me feel safe for some reason, lol. 😀

  12. Ooo! Music! I listen to all kinds of music while I’m writing–mostly I just have my grooveshark playlist up, which has Bon Jovi, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Skillet, Red, Daughtry, Nickelback, Breaking Benjamin, 30 Seconds to Mars, etc. I do like soundtracks, but none of the ones I have really fit the sorts of stories I’m currently writing. Anyway, cool post! 🙂

  13. I’m late reading this post. XD
    But Aaaaaaaaghgdhfjdkafhdjkslfhsjkdlhfjskd that is my favorite song off of the Flower Boy Next Door OST!!!!!!!!


    I actually have a playlist for one of my novels. The others don’t have playlists, really…they do have particular songs that inspire me, though.
    I would say that The Summer Colors of You has a lot of gentle, quiet songs in it’s soundtrack to complement the love story, but there are a few darker tracks with guilty and broken lyrics, because of course, life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies (loved the Pinkie Pie reference, hahaha…my sister is Pinkie’s human version, I think…)
    A few times I’ve attempted writing a scene to a track that didn’t match and it worked against me. Several times, though, I am in fact so lost in the what I’m writing that my characters could be crying their eyes out while I’m listening to f(x)’s Hot Summer and it would make no difference to me. XD That’s rare, though, and I think my best scenes come about when the music matches the situation.

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