Tuesday’s Tunes: Does Music Help Your Writing?

13 Mar

When I think of the typical writer, I imagine someone in a book-filled “study” that’s dead quiet except for the sound of the writer’s typing. Though I’m sure there are some people out there who write better when a room is dead quiet so that they can hear themselves think through what they’re writing, I myself have found that I write much better with music. Nothing too loud or distracting. Something just loud enough to counteract the silence that has the power to envelope a room like a blanket.

Like many books, music evokes so many emotions within me. That is a wonderful tool while writing because often the challenge for me is retrieving the emotions. Once they’ve surfaced, I just write and write and write until everything that I’ve felt from those particular emotions is down on the page. It’s an incredible freeing feeling, which is something that I didn’t really pick up on until starting this blog. Since then, I’ve realized just how disconnected I feel when I have yet to write my daily blog post. It’s like an itch that doesn’t go away until I decide to scratch it. It took me a while to realize how good it is that I’ve made myself blog everyday. Even on days when I feel like there’s not much to say, it’s still a ritual that is very therapeutic to me. I write what I feel…and then those feelings are available for all of you to read. As well as it being a freeing process, I also am so thankful for all of the wonderful feedback that I’ve received from my wonderful followers. You all are the reason I have continued on this journey. Though we are each following our own path, this connection we all have is real, raw, and true.

Recently, I’ve gravitated toward artists like Natalie Merchant while writing. Her voice is soft and calming, and it’s the perfect background music to compliment the fact that there are thousands of thoughts and memories begging to be released onto the page. With the calming music as comfort, I remind myself that the memories will show themselves when I’m ready to see them again. Though it’d be easy to get frustrated (and I have), I’ve also been reminded that there is no deadline on this book. I don’t have to have everything written down by a certain date. Though I’ve been advised to not rush the creative process, I guess things didn’t really stick until I embarked on the journey of writing my book. I began writing and had the mentality that I just wanted to get it all out. All my emotions were on the verge of breaking free, and I needed to let them out. However, I’ve recently realized that bombarding my mind and heart with all sorts of memories isn’t necessarily the best approach. For one, I get overwhelmed quickly…which leads to feelings of defeat. Secondly, if I bombard myself with all sorts of emotions, there is the possibility that I may miss something…something that’s an important piece to the puzzle.

So, here I sit…writing. Writing to all of you to hear your thoughts on all of this. Over my Spring Break, I took a break from working on my book. Even though I technically didn’t write anything for the entire break, that didn’t mean that my mind wasn’t racing with ideas, memories, emotions, and questions. So even when I want to take a break from it, I don’t think I will fully be able to. Unfortunately, we aren’t born with a switch to turn off our brains. If we were, I bet that writers would be the first people to jump on that bandwagon.


47 Responses to “Tuesday’s Tunes: Does Music Help Your Writing?”

  1. rmangena March 13, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    A great inspired writer!!! You make me want to start writing as well as I desire the freeing phenomenon of writing as described by you in this post.

    • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:32 am #

      Thank you so much for the compliment. I hope you are able to use writing as an outlet that brings you closer to the peace that you wish to reach within yourself.

      • rmangena March 14, 2012 at 7:01 am #


  2. Mary March 13, 2012 at 8:06 am #

    I think classical music can be very helpful while writing πŸ™‚ There was one genius writer in my homeland who would only write hearing the vacuum cleaner noise πŸ˜€
    P.S. I found this on youtube and I already feel like writing a novel :p

    • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      Ha…interesting about the vaccum. And thanks for sharing the video. It’s so neat!

  3. Dana Staves March 13, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    I used to write with movie/musical soundtracks playing in the background – there was an arc to the music that sort of fed me as I wrote fiction, and I could match the rise and fall of it. Nowadays, it’s usually singer/songwriter, folk type music, people who (as you said of Natalie Merchant) sound calm.

    • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:30 am #

      I’m drawn to folk and singer/songwriter music the most while I’m writing as well.

  4. Mary March 13, 2012 at 8:26 am #

  5. fiztrainer March 13, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    I just wanted to take a moment to respond to your post … From one who has been on the journey you’re talking about, I applaud you because its not easy to keep yourself open enough to draw upon emotions and memories because it can and, at times, does get overwhelming. The rewards are so great though. I have been and continue to grow as I look deeper inside. Suddenly you find the more you find in there the more your love for and compassion towards others grows because you know everyone is on this path of life which can be riddled with so much struggle, pain and all kinds of things. I look forward to reading your posts and hearing of the completion of your book. Keep on.

    • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:29 am #

      Thank you so much for your support. It means a lot to me!

  6. Katrina March 13, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    I think I’m mostly one of those people who produce higher quality writing if the room is silent. My most treasured piece of furniture is the bookcase in my home office. While I am planning to publish my books as e-books (Stay tuned, I should have at least two available in the next three months) I’m old school with my books. There is an indescribable feeling when I look at my bookcase and all the books I have collected there, if I am playing music while writing, it has to be something slow, soft and probably classical, if someone is singing, I’ll stop to listen to the song and maybe sing along,

    • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:29 am #

      I can’t wait to read your books!! πŸ™‚

      • Katrina March 13, 2012 at 10:47 am #

        Thanks, I’ll let you know when they’re done, would you like to be a Beta Reader for me?

      • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:48 am #

        What does that mean?

      • Katrina March 13, 2012 at 10:50 am #

        You read the book before its published and then give me feed back, is it interesting, does it pull you in and hold you, does it make sense, did I contradict the story line anywhere, etc. it’s basically proof reading the story line and plot, not so much the spelling or grammar.

      • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:52 am #

        That sounds so great! I’d be honored to be a Beta Reader for you!

      • Katrina March 13, 2012 at 10:55 am #

        Thanks, the first book should be ready in about 3 weeks.

  7. Nowan Zen March 13, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    I like quiet when I’m thinking, reading, writing, but not silence. Not the tomb crypt quiet. I play some music in the background that’s conducive to my mood, and let the muses speak.

    • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:28 am #

      Yep, I’m the same way.

      • Nowan Zen March 13, 2012 at 10:49 am #

        Some music, however, I can’t listen to because I start singing along with it and forget what I was thinking about. Plus when I sing, the hair falls off of the dog and birds flee.

      • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:51 am #

        Haha, yeah. I try to avoid the music I naturally sing along to because then I, like you, completely lose my train of thought…which just stinks!

      • Nowan Zen March 13, 2012 at 11:09 am #

        Got to ride the train of thought to it’s conclusion or it’s just frustrating!

  8. R F Brown March 13, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    I like to listen to music while writing that creates something like a movie soundtrack for the story I’m working on. I listen to a singer who my character would like or instrumental music from the period or decade of the scene.

  9. Laura March 13, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    I like to listen to Muse when I’m writing, and they aren’t soft or quiet! I made it through one short novel with their albums on repeat.

  10. awarewriter March 13, 2012 at 11:13 am #


  11. melissacuevas March 13, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    I can’t write in silence. Absolutely not. I have a keyboard that is marketed to writers because of the noise it makes. (Think: clickclickcliketyclack) Then I listen to music while I write, and not just any music… dance and trance. Loudly. This is why I prefer to write in an empty house, because my husband hates what I use, and my sons just look confused. I used to dream of the perfect ‘writer’s lair’, and yes, I thought it would be dark woods and cathedral silence but I know better now.

    • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 11:27 am #

      I too used to think that it’d need to be silent for me to write well, but that’s not the case, which is probably for the best since true silence is harder and harder to find these days.

  12. bloggingreadingwriting March 13, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    I couldn’t agree more about the music. The best thing for me to listen to is music I am already so familiar with that I don’t have to think about listening to it (if that makes ANY sense…)

    I never really understood why people like to write in silence. I need some sort of white noise, even if it’s me in a coffee shop listening to the blender go off every 30 seconds πŸ™‚

    • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 11:32 am #

      Yeah, I understand what you mean about familiar music. And yeah, I need white noise too. I’ve written some of my best things in local coffee shops. It’s so nice to hear the hum-drum of life, but still am able to get lost in my own thoughts.

    • melissacuevas March 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

      I understand exactly. I didn’t realize that hubby was in the kitchen while I was writing (my office is right off of the kitchen) and he finally asked… “Why are you listening to the same damn four songs over and over?” How can I tell him I’m good to go when I don’t even realize that they’re playing anymore?

  13. bo March 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    Yes, I listen to music whilst I write. While I generally have a decent idea of what I’m about to sit down and work on, narratively, I have a tendency to forget about mood more often than not. So I put on music that will help me feel the mood I want to capture, be it silly or dark or severe or even Victorian. If I’m free-writing, I’ll listen to anything I’ve heard a billion times – like the Beatles – unless I want to write something completely different. In that case I’ll go to the library and find something I’ve never listened to or pester my friends for music suggestions.

    • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

      Hmm…very interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  14. crystalkm March 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    I love listening to music when I write, but I usually have to listen to something without lyrics. I get too distracted and I end up singing along instead of focusing on writing! E.S. Posthumus is a current obsession. Their music could make brushing your teeth an epic event.

    • bloggingreadingwriting March 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

      Celtic music is the way to go for epic music. I listen to that anytime I need to write an epic battle scene, or if I just want to feel awesome when I write πŸ™‚

      • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

        Ah…Celtic! The luck of the Irish, eh?

      • bloggingreadingwriting March 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

        Hey man, give it a whirl, find something with a good drum beat and some crazy background vocals, and you’ll just get lost πŸ˜›

      • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

        I don’t doubt it!

    • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

      Yeah, most of the time I opt for music without lyrics as well since I love to sing. I’ve never heard of E.S. Posthumus. I’ll have to check them out.

  15. belasbrightideas March 13, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    I admire you for being able to write to music! I can’t do one and the other at the same time – so I guess I fit your ‘writer image.’ πŸ˜‰
    My daughters both used to listen to music while doing homework. They were model students, so I never complained. But I never understood how they did it either!

    • ameliaclaire92 March 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

      Bela, I bet you aren’t the only one who fits my writer image. As a matter of fact, I bet a good amount of people do.
      I was always (and still am) the type of person that could listen to music while doing homework. The only time I can’t is when I’m reading (either for academics or pleasure). That’s one of the few times that I do in fact need silence.

  16. pelianwords March 14, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    Lately I’ve been trying not to depend on music to write, but it absolutely helps! While writing my book I listen to classical, and when writing personal things I listen to Missy Higgins and Mumford and Sons. Music comforts my ears when silence hurts them. I don’t know if you read with music, but I just started, and love it! (I was having a hard time reading a difficult translation of the Iliad, so I put on the soundtrack of Tron, and no exaggeration whatsoever, I finish half the Iliad in 3 hours!)

    Wow this is a really long comment, sorry about that!

  17. Lois Hoffman March 14, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    I need to hear the world around me – the birds chirping, people moving about. I’ve trained myself to tune them out when I really need to polish the fine details, but love to have them there to bring life to what I am writing.

  18. katievskeyboard March 14, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Personally I find music very distracting- I either sing along or pay too much attention to the beat. Once or twice I’ve found myself typing along and then when I look I’ve made my dialogue the song lyrics. I don’t mind the noises of say cars on the road, birds, my dog, but anything I want to pay attention to is just that- attention grabbing.

  19. mrbrainsplat March 15, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    Nice piece. I like how you mention the itch to do the daily piece. Since I started doing my daily blog I’ve been the same (which was sort of what I was after anyway), so I know where you are coming from.

    Music for me is a big thing and I always find it inspiring. I’ve probably touched on it a number of times in blog pieces but I did a longer post on it almost a month ago. If you want to check it out it is here: http://brainsplats.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/what-music-and-writing-have-in-common/

  20. David Michael Williams March 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    I think I’ve always had music playing while writing. Sometimes, it’s for background noise; othertimes, the songs themselves can impact the words flowing from my fingertips.

    For my last novel, I came up with a “soundtrack” of songs that remind me of certain characters, scenes, and themes. It begs the question: To what degree do the lyrics work their way into manuscript?

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