Playlists to write to (sorta)

I don’t normally listen to music when I write.  I find that the story of the song often interferes with the story I’m trying to grab hold of and headlock onto the paper.  Occasionally I will put on an instramental – classical or jazz, but rarely.  In fact, when I’m at the office (ie. the coffee shop) I usually put in my earphones and listen to a white noise track to drown out all the chatter.

But I have noticed that though I don’t listen to music while writing a particular book, there are specific albums that I find myself playing again and again while daydreaming about the book.  I think any writer would admit that there is considerable time spent just thinking about the plot, the characters etc. and this usually happens away from the keyboard.  At the gym, on a walk, in line at the shop.  And I’ve noticed that I gravitate to certain albums for each book.  The might be thematically linked, or maybe the beat matches the tempo of the book, I don’t really know.

For example, for Powerless, I listened to Sufjan Stevens Illinois over and over.  Not every track, but certainly most of them made the cut.  And for The Last Explorer I keep going back to Coldplay’s Vida la Vida.

Strange, but there it is.  Anyone else have music that creeps into the creative process?


7 Responses to “Playlists to write to (sorta)”

  1. I definitely listen to music when I write (I actually just blogged about the same topic!)
    When I was writing the first draft of my novel, I listened to Pete Townshend’s All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes incessantly.

  2. all the time, actually.
    I got whole writing playlists, for fast paced story parts, slow story parts, heroic… you get the impression. 🙂
    But then, I keep listening to music for mood all the time. That’s just another part of it, really.

  3. Yes yes yes! I was just trying to explain this last night to a friend as we were driving over to see Tift Merritt in concert, since Tift’s latest album is one that totally inspired me as I thought about and got ready to work on Ink throughout the entire process. I don’t think I ever actually listened to it while writing though! I still feel like I couldn’t have written Ink without it.

  4. I can’t write while listening to anything with complex lyrics, because the words begin to creep into my writing. I’m fine with instrumentals though, or electronica, so long as I tune it to whatever I want to write at the time.

    Juno Reactor’s earlier work is great for action scenes, while BT’s “Binary Universe” is a beautifully calming album which conjures up some great images.

  5. I’m with you on the “can’t listen while I’m writing” camp. I don’t multitask well at all.

    But when I’m doing art I listen, and the words hit me more than when I’m listening just to listen to the words.

    I was painting a mural a few years ago and listening to Annie Lennox’s “White Flag” and realized that it encapuslated the entire romantic plot of the novel I was working on. Thereafter, whenever I hear that song, I think of that novel.

  6. I listen to music whenever I write. I usually go so far as to make a playlist to suit what project I’m working on. For the novel I’m revising now each character has their own. Usually music without vocals or in a language I don’t understand. There’s an album of music by Philip Glass, inspired by the rivers of South America, which is perfect. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy fits very well too.

  7. michael pollard Says:

    I really like Sufjan Stevens…especially “Illinois”.
    His Christmas Collection is pretty cool. I think it was only $20.00 , it’s a box set with 4 cd’s.
    His stuff is unique and I like the fact that he plays almost all of the instruments on his CD.

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