Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Way We Are: Playlists

Even though I don't, I know a lot of people rely on music heavily when writing, and it completely fascinates me. I want to hear about it!

Do you have a playlist for your WIP? Do you have certain songs you listen to when you are writing certain scenes? Songs that fit a specific character? If so, what's your process for finding the perfect music?

Or does it matter less what the song is, just that it's the right type of music?

For me, I write best in silence. If I can't have silence, Pandora and headphones save me. But I have to admit, Pandora works for me like white noise, not as a method of inspiration. Although sometimes I wonder if it's just because I haven't found the perfect music for what I'm writing yet.

How about you? Do you prefer silence, or do you have a hard time writing without music?

50 comments:

Cherie Reich said...

Most of the time, I don't listen to music while writing. Although when I wrote my latest NaNoWriMo novel, I did listen to the soundtrack of WICKED because parts of the musical are in the book.

Joshua said...

My current WIP, that I started during NaNo, relies heavily on Philip Glass.

The other WIP is a Pandora station based on Rachmaninoff. Heavy, depressing, dark.

Nothing with lyrics or my mind focuses on those words instead of the words I want to wrote.

However, I listen to 80's rock when blogging--Whitesnake, Poison, REO, and the like.

When I'm not focusing, it's usually showtunes or comedy tracks.

Delia said...

I use playlists for long work. I start compiling songs as soon as I start working out plot. It's a clarifying thing at that stage. Certain songs will hit me as establishing the right mood with their melodies, or the personality of a character with their lyrics. I don't necessarily go looking, but when I hear them, I jot them down. Then I make a playlist on my iPod with those specific songs (adding and subtracting as the story progresses) and play it every time I sit down to write. After a while, it gets to the point where I think of the story every time I hear those songs, which is a great help when I'm having trouble getting my head out of the real world and into my fake one. I just put the soundtrack on and, in a few minutes, I'm ready to go.

Plus, y'know, it helps to block out the sounds of fighting children. ;)

Joshua said...

Also, the music is to help drown out the noise and focus the voices in my head.

Yeah, I said it out loud.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I don't create a playlist, but I do listen to music, unless I have to devote complete concentration to something. Usually,though, I listen to instrumental music or songs with very few lyrics to distract me.

BECKY said...

Hi Peggy! Great question! I LOVE music of just about all genres. Don't know if you've ever noticed but I change the Play List on my blog fairly often.

As far as listening while I'm writing...it pretty much has to be instrumental, like others said. It's just too easy to fall into singing along (even in my head)! I do have one tip to share that I read about a couple of years ago. I can't think of the writer's name at the moment, but one of her tips was to have a "starting song." Play the same song every time you sit down to write. No matter what it is. Your mind will learn quickly that it is TIME TO WRITE when it hears it! Which just reminds me....I haven't done that in quite a while....duh....

Amanda Olivieri said...

Music in general helps me focus on what I'm doing. If it's too quiet, or if I can hear the TV or something else in the background I tend to get distracted. But, more specifically, I do try to find songs that evoke the "mood" of what I'm trying to write. For my current WIP there are two songs that really encompass the mood of the novel, and I listen to them constantly when I'm writing. It gets me in the mindset and reminds me of the tone I want to convey.

Krista said...

Generally I don't listen to music while I write. But if I do, I like most others here, have to listen to only instrumental. And it can't be a song that evokes powerful images of other things - for example Darth Vader's theme - because then I get distracted.

JeffO said...

Opens mouth, inserts foot -- you know, maybe I'll do a post about this...

Anyway, I typically do listen to music while I write, though it's not necessarily thematic or for inspiration. I just like the noise, the way it isolates me from other distractions, and I like to bounce along to a good beat.

Bea Sempere (Denise Baer) said...

Music is mostly white noise for me, too. I don't get inspiration from music, but I do enjoy having classical music playing. If I played popular music, I'd spend more time singing than writing. :)

Have a nice day.

Patti said...

I'm a complete silence type of reader. I might listen to something before I start, but I have a hard time concentrating when music is playing, especially when I know the words.

Mara Rae said...

I don't listen to music while I write, but I do tend to have theme songs for my books. For one of my WIPs it's "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Still not sure what it is for my current project. Maybe "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry, or "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry.

Katie Dodge said...

I like silence while writing. But throughout the day I'll listen to music that reminds me of my WIP. Right now, it's music from the
1920's. :)

Tracey J said...

I write in silence as well, but I do like having one theme song for each WIP. :)

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

It's got to be dead quiet for me! I cannot even read a book with background noise, let alone write!

Steph Sessa said...

My WIP has a lot of allusions to music and lyrics in it but I can't listen to it while writing. Sometimes I'll listen to a song and then write a scene based on that, but never at the same time. I get way too distracted and into the music to get anything done!

Donna K. Weaver said...

I can write in silence, but I prefer music in the background. Some of the music I just happened to be listening to while writing my first WIP now is totally linked to it in my memory. When I hear songs from it, it brings back scenes I was writing.

For my NaNo project, where my oldest granddaughter is the mc, I had my daughter get a list of her favorite songs. I listened to them as I wrote, and I will when I get to editing it.

J. A. Bennett said...

I don't really have a playlist becasue it helps me to change things up depending on my mood. Although sometimes silence is best, but headphones also block out the world around me :)

Leigh Covington said...

I need to read through all of these comments extensively. I have to write in silence too! I haven't figured out how to write to music, although songs can inspire me when I'm not writing.

Stacy Henrie said...

Silence, hands down. On occasion I'll listen to classical music. I like something with no words.

Emily R. King said...

I'm used to writing to the background music of my family. Because of that, I can't write in silence, but that doesn't mean I need music. Leaving the TV on works, too.

Tonja said...

Silence. When I did software development in my previous job, I had an Oz-fest at my desk most days.

S.P. Bowers said...

Silence for me, though sometimes I have background noise of whatever video game hubby is playing. He's so good to entertain himself while I'm busy. I don't think I've turned on music that isn't Backyardigans or Phineas and Ferb in quite a long time.

Janet Johnson said...

I prefer silence, too. Music just distracts me. But some songs do inspire. :)

Kelley said...

I like music, but don't need it as long as there is other noise around me. Silence is just SO LOUD. haha. Though, I've come to realize that I don't like silence anytime in my life, not even while sleeping.

I don't have a playlist, just types of music depending on the scene I'm writing. Set the mood :)

Charlie Holmberg said...

I prefer writing in silence. On the occasion that I do have music, it has to be instrumental or in another language so I don't understand the lyrics (they're distracting!)

That being said, I do keep a playlist for each book I write on playlist.com. I usually listen to it when I'm plotting/planning/outlining, but not when I'm actually drafting.

...Though I admit I did have Duel of the Fates on repeat when I wrote a fight scene, recently.

Angela Cothran said...

I can't do music. I'm a write in silence kind of girl :)

David P. King said...

I love writing with music. But, I find writing with lyrics distracting. I've since amassed a huge collection of film scores. You name it, I probably have it. :)

Iain said...

I prefer silence too. Although, the times slots that I have available to write in, ensures that I never get it. I resort to Jean-Michel Jarre albums. There are no lyrics to compete with the words in my head, and it works like a soundtrack. I know it's there, but couldn't tell you what it is, just that it's drawing me along with it.

Ruth Josse said...

Sometimes silence, but mostly music. I think it's kind of like your white noise theory though because it doesn't really matter what it is. But sometimes the perfect song comes on for just the right scene and it's magic. :)

Carrie Butler said...

You betcha! One of my playlists for STRENGTH is here. :) Great post!

Imogen said...

I often write with music, mainly to block out annoying noises. When I sit down with my music on, I'm less likely to focus on what my sisters are doing, and, when I get the earbuds in, I know it's time to work.

I mainly like to listen to film soundtracks, especially the 'How to Train Your Dragon' music, but music with lyrics doesn't bother me. I know I'm in the groove when I don't hear the music anymore.

I don't have specific playlists for my writing. The most I do is try not to play extremely modern music for my Regency novel. Somehow it doesn't seem to fit!

Kristin Baker Przybyla said...

This is a great question. I don't have specific playlists for whatever WIP I'm on, but I do have a couple of playlists that include music that I work best to. One for fantasy writing, and one for steampunk. And most recently, I've learned to write with noise in the background: the TV, kids being loud, etc. I'm proud of that last accomplishment, because it means I can pretty much write anytime!

Angela Brown said...

Writing in silence works best for me but I enjoy instrumental music in the background sometimes for the white noise effect. If I have music with words, even if I don't know them, I will try to sing the song lol!!!

Lan said...

I have way too short an attention span to be able to listen to music while I write, but I love that other writer's have created soundtracks for their novels. It's kind of like picking who would be the actors who would play your characters in a movie :)

Kelley Vitollo said...

I don't write with music either! I wouldn't even know where to begin on playlists. LOL

Kelly Polark said...

I can't write to music because I would sing along!
But I LOVE music!

Susan Oloier said...

For my current wip, I have a playlist of 58 songs, which serves as the soundtrack for it. It's just an ecclectic collection of songs that I find relevant to the characters and storyline. Was that vague or what?

CherylAnne Ham said...

I can't listen to music at all while I'm writing. I can block out background noise, okay, but music distracts me like crazy. I sorta wish it wasn't like that for me, but such is life. :D

Nancy Thompson said...

This is a great topic! I need silence when I write, but I use my music to build a plot and produce characters. I listen to a lot of Three Days Grace, Staind, Art of Dying, Seether, and the like. Heavy, dark music with haunting themes. I've used songs to construct a premise, to build characters, and progress the story. It's like each song on my playlist is a virtual chapter in my book. I love that I am inspired in this way and could not imagine writing any other way.

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I am also fascinated by this playlist concept as I prefer silence when writing. That said, when I'm in the zone I can block out anything so it doesn't matter what noise there is!

Connie B. Dowell said...

Music is great for my concentration and for setting the mood, but I don't have time to figure out a whole playlist for a book or even one chapter, so radio or Pandora works well. I've also recently tried that mood music link on your resources page. It was awesome! Thanks for sharing it!

Jennifer Lee Young said...

I always have cartoons in the backround because of the kids. I do get my best ideas in the car when I listen to country music.

Christy said...

I use Pandora too-a Jon Schmidt station usually does the trick for me. Sometimes I'll listen to an upbeat Taylor Swift station.
BTW I love that you will write for cookies! :)

The Golden Eagle said...

It depends. Sometimes I'll really want music and other times I'll want to shut off all noise altogether. But when I am in a music-listening mood it's classical--for the project I'm working on right now, Beethoven inspires me the most.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Wow! I am so surprised how many people prefer silence to music when writing! I thought I was on the "ab" side of normal. I honestly thought that I was pretty much the only person that didn't have a playlist. You guys made me feel so much better! Although, I'm still coveting the playlist method. Someday, I WILL make myself one.

Connie-- I'm glad you tried the mood music link! That makes me happy.

Carrie-- I love that you have your playlist on your site! I listened to it for a full hour. I love it!

E.D. said...

For me, music is a distraction. Silence is golden :-)

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

Can't write if the TV is on (shiny objects distract me). I always, ALWAYS have music on. If the TV is on, I have to put headphones on so I don't know the TV is on....

Taffy said...

For this YA Horror I'm writing The Cure station on Jango helps. Or when I'm editing. For me I sometimes need the loud, distracting music to keep my inner critic busy with something other than my writing.

J.L. Campbell said...

I like silence with the television running in the background. I've compiled music around a certain topic I'm writing about, but I can't play them when I'm writing. I'd do a whole lot more singing than writing.