Friday, May 20, 2011

Is Music Your Muse?

Do you listen to music when you write?

I know writers who insist on silence. I know others who need or like music when they write, but it can't have lyrics. Classical is a favorite for many of those writers. Others need to rock.

I often have music playing. I have a lot of music on my computer, and often I'll put it on shuffle. Sometimes, I want a certain kind of music for the right mood for a scene. And, sometimes, if I'm trying to tackle a tough problem in a story, the music becomes too distracting and I have to turn it off. Usually, though, I need the music to help block out other household or office noises. It becomes a kind of white noise for me, although I usually notice what's playing. I don't understand the mechanics of it, but the music seems to distract a certain part of my mind that needs to be distracted when I write.

Occasionally, music intrudes a little more than I want, like if a song particularly interests me because I really like it, didn't expect to hear it, or makes me want to immediately hit the skip button. I think that's fairly rare, though. The deeper my writing focus, the less I actually notice which song is playing.

But then, I wonder if that's really true. I'm betting that if I could track my reaction to music while I write without the tracking becoming a distraction of its own, I'd notice that it distracts me more than I think.

In any case, music seems to help me when I use it as background noise when I work.

How about you?


gaylene said...

I sometimes listen to music to get in a certain type of mood before writing, but I can't have music at all when I write. Other noises don't bother me, but my brain connects to music too much, I guess. I always wished I could, though.

Scott said...

Thanks for the comment, Gaylene. Which music puts you in which writing moods?

Taffy said...

Lately, I've been using sounds of the beach in the background. Sometimes I listen to loud rock music to drown out my critic but that's mostly when I'm free writing.

Scott said...

Maybe that's it, Taffy. Maybe that's what music does for me when I write. Maybe that little bit of a distraction is keeping my inner critic busy. Nice observation!

Julie Daines said...

I can't listen to music when I write. Music is never background noise to me. I'm too in tune to it and it always occupies a space in my mind when it's playing. Even classical or instrumental.

I LOVE music. I listen to it all the time to be inspired to write. All my manuscripts have a playlist and I'm constantly trying to find new songs that inspire me about a work in progress.

But when I'm writing, I can't tune it out. I hear the lyrics, I'm picking out the different instruments, I'm wondering how the composer came up with that sequence of chords. I ALWAYS hear it.

Yamile said...

I always write with music on. Sometimes the lyrics will spark a phrase or a scene, so I listen to the same song over and over to recreate the same feeling. I can't listen to rock music though, but I love soundtracks, especially Gladiator, Braveheart and Pride and Prejudice. They go with all my stories :-)