Music that inspires your writing


Everyone has different methods of inspiring themselves to write.  Today I want to focus on music and how it can be a helpful source for creativity.  Despite my not being a published author, many of you know I do like to write.  There are certain songs that spark my imagination.  Whenever I need to ponder how to write a story, I may put a particular song on and play it over and over again while the scenes unfold in my head.  After they become fairly clear, I write them down.  Rarely do I actually play music while writing, but sometimes it can help when trying to create a particular feeling or emotion in my story.

For obvious reasons, the music usually relates to what is  happening in the scene, but I do have “go to” songs for just general pondering and brainstorming.  The current one that is providing the most inspiration is sung by Ben Harper and is titled “Amen Omen”.  I love the melody and the lyrics are amazing. It has no official video so I can’t post it, but there are some youtube users who have created their own with the song if you get curious.

Now on to you all!  I know there are authors out there who go so far as to set up play lists while writing.  Yet I am curious what you all like to do.  Is music not your thing or too distracting?  Do you use it while writing or are you like me and play it to get ideas?  I would love to hear everyone’s responses.  If there is one song in particular that inspires you , feel free to tell us about it or post a link.  Please try to keep it to just one though.

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~ by Suzie on July 3, 2011.

12 Responses to “Music that inspires your writing”

  1. Music has always informed and inspired my writing. When I work in fiction, I try to find music that will help me ease into a sense of place in the voice of the prose. I first discovered what an effective tool this could be when I was working on the first draft of what became The Red Gate (2009). As I worked through re-writes, I used a carousel CD changer to cycle through the recordings of Tin Whistle maestra Joanie Madden, whose plaintive, longing melodies and tone perfectly meshed with the ethereal, sodden scenery of Western Co. Mayo, Ireland, where the tale was set. It was also connected with my main character’s using the instrument to pass away the solitary hours as a shepherd. The music served me so well, that when it became clear I had sequel to write, I automatically loaded up her CDs again. Since then, I’ve used different kinds of music to help me establish emotional resonance with what I’m working on. In my previous life, as a graphic designer, I learned how important music can be to relax the mind before jumping into a task. Now, writing almost full time, it’s shown itself as an important ally in the entire creative work experience.

  2. (That picture is so adorable! I was just thinking of doing a post similar to this, except about book soundtracks.)

    I used to always have music going (I think I had trouble with quiet), so I would often write to instrumental Celtic music. I’m used to quiet now and actually prefer it, so I no longer listen to music while I write. I don’t know if I’ve ever sought out a song to help me with inspiration, but I have listened to some that suddenly sparked images of a story, kind of like what a movie trailer would look like. It didn’t help me with plot so much as mood. Now whenever I listen to those songs, I can’t help but think about those stories (my apologies to the artists for changing their original meaning).

    • Angela, when I saw that pic, I knew it was the best one for this post, lol. Glad you appreciated it too!

      Celtic music is really beautiful. I love hearing it though I don’t play it myself. Music definitely helps me brainstorm ideas. I have a particular spot in my home to think and I take my ipad with me. That makes it easy to look things up online if an idea hits me that needs more info. Plus the music can play on it.

  3. Yes, I’m one of the ones who has mood playlists. I have a romance list, an angry fight scene list – lot of hard rock in there, and a sad scenes list. I also have lists for different characters. At the moment I seem to be inspired by U2. I couldn’t pick one song from them, there are far too many. And a totally flippant piece of trivia – I got the nickname for my male protagonist from a Motorhead song called The Hammer. I was listening to some heavy rock trying to get an “angry young man” character into my head and it just fitted.
    Then I had to create a back story as to how he got it 🙂

    • I knew someone had to be the playlist type! Most of the time Ican’t write with music on, but for fight scenes it can really help set the mood. If there is a really depressing moment in the story, I might play the appropriate songs for that.

      Never used U2 for writing but I can understand why you do. They have some great stuff!

  4. I love music. I love to sing. I’m in my church choir. I love Classic Rock. A little bit of Country…Garth Brooks, Reba McIntyre to name a couple. I have deep respect for Classical music. However, I am one of those people that prefer quiet to create, read, and write. I guess that’s why it has been difficult for me living with other people. More distractions.

    I will put this out there for pondering…the song done by Garth Brooks, “If Tomorrow Never Comes” has been inspirational to me for the message that we never know if we will see our loved ones again once we leave their presence. It became profoundly true after 9-11-2001.

    • Lynn, that is a beautiful song. Because Garth Brooks is from the town next to where I grew up, you would even hear him on the pop music stations, lol.

  5. Music is distracting to me. Matter of fact, I even tried an audio book a friend gave me when I had a 5 hr drive. After 30 minutes my husband looked at me and asked, “Are you listening to this?” No, I wasn’t. Neither was he. It was just white noise. I tend to block out even the TV when I’m writing. I envy those who can multi-task.

    • Sandy, I tried audio books too and didn’t like them. Better to hear my own internal voices do the narrarating. They can fit each character better. It can be strange hearing a guy trying to talk like a woman for the female speaking parts, lol. I get too stuck on that and miss the actual story!

  6. Incredibly, since I’m the biggest music geek you have ever known, I don’t listen to music when I write; I need to give both my full attention and can’t do music as background… unless it’s perhaps the most wispy ambient stuff, like the Enya-type music you do yoga too, lol. Before I write is a different matter, though. Even then, I don’t think I have a set pattern; it could be anything from Rihanna to Stockhausen, hip-hop to drone metal. Then I turn off my iTunes and enjoy the silence (yes, that was a Depeche Mode reference). Music is one of the greatest things in the world; it wouldn’t be exaggerating to say it is sacred to me. In fact, it’s right up there with writing, only I have almost no talent as far as one of those pursuits is concerned (I play guitar enthusiastically yet badly… and sing… badly).

  7. […] up to inspire them to write (though if you’re interested in that discussion, hop on over to Mistress Susan’s blog).  Ever have a song you thought fit a character or scene really well?  Or one you would play […]

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