Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Little Write Music

(OK, OK, so that title doesn't exactly work grammatically, but did you get the pun there? Aren't I clever?)

It's chucking down rain outside and I was up all night thanks to a bird outside my window who persisted on bleating the same four notes every thirty seconds or so, so I'm going to make this sorta short.

In On Writing, Stephen King says he writes with heavy-metal music blasting. It's so far from my own writing preferences (absolute silence!), that it made me wonder: can music help the writing process? And what do most writers prefer, silence or tunes?

So, I'd love to hear... Music: Yea or Nay?

And if it's 'yea', what's your favourite writing tune?

PS - If anyone knows a humane way to shut up a silly little bird in the middle of the night, please let me know! It's the second night running and if I don't do it humanely soon, I fear for that bird's life.


  1. I created a playlist of instrumental music for my current WIP. It's mostly movie soundtracks that evoke the feeling of the project I'm working on right now.

    I find that it cues my brain that it's time to write (I only listen to this playlist when I'm writing) and it helps me slip into my story's world faster than just staring at a blank page.

    Like you, blaring heavy metal music, or anything with lyrics, is extremely distracting.

  2. I prefer to write in absolute silence but I was talking to a therapeutic writing practitioner the other day and she has used different sorts of music to encourage different types of writing. She says that the results are impressive. Maybe I'll give it a try.

    As for the bird my only suggestion is to get a cat but the bird might not agree. I suppose there are always ear plugs but personally I can't get on with them.

    Hope you get a better night tonight.

  3. Definitely Yay! And what I listen to is usually random, though I do find some movie scores to be beneficial when I'm trying to nail a certain mood in a scene. : D

  4. Yea. I have a dock for my iPod and I shuffle. But sometimes one album and/or certain songs become part of the soundtrack to my manuscript. I can't read the manuscript without hearing the songs and I can't hear the songs without thinking about my manuscript.

    I hope that one day, if/when I get published, and then the book gets made into a movie, they'll consult me on music.

  5. I've only ever listened to music once, believe it or not my daughter's Sinbad movie was playing in the background and the musical score set the tone for what I was writing.

    I need silence to write.

    As for the bird, try a little birdseed on the window ledge outside, maybe even a little house. He could have been crying because it was raining. OR he's a fledgling that fell out of his nest. Look and see.

  6. For me it has to be classical music or new age music with no words in order to write at the same time. Maybe King needs heavy metal because of the stuff he writes about?

    As for the bird, make a loud noise like slamming the window to scare it away :) Silly Bird.

  7. Awwwww Tis Spring and the birdie is singing it's little heart out because it's er... Spring!!

    I think it's only for this very short season - once summer is underway, all that singing will soon be silenced as the objective has been reached (ie. baby birdies!!! erm... or driving you to distraction! Awwww the little birdie doesn't mean it...).

    As for music - Lady Gaga's Bad Romance sets me off - but I have to immerse myself in it and her fab vid then switch her off and get writing in silence (with birdsong in the background..!!! I'm trying valiantly stick up for these birdies!!! Cos they're only little and they're just being birdies).


    Take care

  8. I can only write with music if it's instrumental. But I prefer writing with the TV on quietly in the background. Not quite sure how this all works but that's what I've found works for me.

  9. Nay. I love music, and find it very inspiring, very moving. It actually influences much of my writing. Just not when I'm writing.

  10. Well Talli, it totally depends on my mood. But if I'm in the "right" mood for writing, no music is needed.

    Now to the bird...
    Now that spring is here, it may be starting a nest close by...If that is the case, you are kind of stuck...

  11. I love the thought of using music as a cue to begin writing. I'm sure it can be used in a therapeutic/ productive way.But I would probably just use it as another distraction! Thanks, everyone, for chiming in.

    As for the bl**dy bird:
    Pat, I think you're right and it is building a nest nearby; I saw it hopping around with some leaves, etc, in its beak. What I don't understand is that there aren't really any sizeable trees nearby! I mean, I live on a busy London road!

    It's really cute and all, but I hope it shuts up tonight!

  12. I listen to about a dozen CDs over and over again--my "working groove" music. I like Sting and simon and Garfunkle because they write such evocative lyrics. And when I need to write a particularly excruciating grief scene (my book's all about grieving) then it's Mozart's Requiem all the way.

    Two words for your bird problem: White Noise. I sleep with a really loud box fan running, because we have noisy neighbors and rude feathered chirpers also.

  13. I'm in the silence or classical music crowd. Lyrics or catchy tunes can distract what I'm doing. On the other hand, I do like music that might pertain to what I'm writing about or come from an era that I'm writing about in order to stimulate me or inspire what I'm writing, but not while I'm writing usually.
    I do often have a soundtrack in mind for my writing.

  14. Ohhhh a topic very close to my heart.

    There is no singular song that I listen to or even a singular genre. It is quite often that I will hear a song soon after writing a scene - the music will hit me I will react with the emotion my characters would feel if it were a soundtrack. Then there are the times where I sit in front of the computer writing a fight scene & I flicker through my iTunes list searching for Linkin Park or ACDC, set the volume to low or mid & just begin to type.

    I HAVE to HAVE NOISE! (even when I go to sleep - yep I am one of those she-sleeps-with-the-tv-or-radio-on-chicks)

    I cannot help you on the, sleep with earplugs...I don't know... ;o)

    Thanks for stopping by the Kingdom today!

    Visit My Kingdom Anytime

  15. Absolutely, all the way. I love wearing my headphones and drowning out my real life to immerse myself in my story. I like my Glee Cast station on Pandora the best. It brings me musicals, Michael Buble (how do you spell that?), Jason Mraz and everything in between. Love it!

  16. I need silence to write. For one manuscript, though, I had about three or four songs that, to me, spoke to the theme and I would play those sometimes.

    Can't help with the bird. My only idea was to put a bird feeder in a tree somewhere away from your window. Maybe it would build a nest or roost close to the food.

    Straight From Hel

  17. While music/lyrics are the biggest inspiration in my writing, I need silence to write the words that come from it. The lyrics only serve to distract me.

  18. I cannot write with music playing. I can run scenes and dialogue in my head when the music's playing, and it even helps me then, but when I actually sit down to write I can have the tv on but no music.

  19. Music is a yay to me - I mostly write to loud music on repeat (and then turn it off if I have to construct a fiddly dialogue scene. For some reason descriptive works so much better to tunes!)

    Favourite tunes - couldn't name just one. But whatever tune is stuck in my head I have to play at least twenty times - sometimes I get completed *fixiated on hearing the same thing over and over.

    *I am not running this through spell-checker and have had a glass of wine, which means I have no clue whether 'fixiated' is a word or not. Perhaps the wine made it up! Sounds good though. ;)

  20. It really depends on my ADD and the mood I'm in when I write. Often I write in silence, but I do have a playlist that I listen to sometimes as I compose. I like to change it up. At times, though, music distracts me, and I end up looking through the playlist for the "right song" to listen to as I write, wasting valuable minutes.

  21. I'm not a fan of silence when I'm writing. I much prefer to have my iTunes on. I have about 1000 songs, and I just press shuffle. I don't have a favourite song - I love them all.

  22. Things have to be absolutely silent as I write, but Lisa and I were just saying that Regina Spektor might be nice to write. I'll have to give it a try.

  23. I go in spirts... it's hard to decide... at the beginning of my story I had a playlist

    Imogen Heap
    Holly Brook
    Teagen and Sara
    A Fine Frenzy

    Quite the combo but each song spoke to me. Towards the end of my WIP I've needed silence to wrap it all together!

  24. I need silence when I write, even though I want the mood of different music to inspire my scenes, like other writers describe. I get too distracted and frustrated when I try, and end up shutting it off.

    I'm gonna try again... :D

  25. Yea! I have to listen to something otherwise everything is too quiet and I hear the house creaking and the heater kicking on etc. I usually listen to music that fits the scene I'm writing or an album I've listened to so many times it just blends into the background.

  26. It depends on my book and the mood of it. Some books I need silence, some I need loud rock, and some I need spunky musicals. Also depends on my mood.

    Sorry about the bird. Maybe you could start screeching out the window at it, and see if it stops? Okay. Maybe not.

  27. I prefer silence for most everything - I can't stand to have a TV on with no one watching it for instance. I can't write or do anything that requires concentration with music playing, though I've heard other authors say they use certain music for certain moods, and sometimes I wish I could do that.

  28. Goodness you sure got a lot of comments for this post! I write listening to a compliation or to either Gregorian chant or to Faithless or other dance music.

  29. I know published authors who make up a soundtrack for each novel, but I can only listen to classical and very quiet MOR.

    Only happened on your blog because you followed me on Twitter.

  30. I have an award for you over on my blog!!! Check it out when you get a chance :)

  31. Thanks so much everyone for all your comments! I'm surprised to see most people like music!


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