What Music Gets You Writing?

When I’m stuck with a project and short on time, I like to jump start my stagnation with a little music. Music is a powerful tool. It can motivate, sooth, and evoke emotions in an instant.

But rhythm and beats don’t just help the writer it can help in other instances as well. Music therapy has been proven to help will all sorts of disabilities and can improve mental health.

But what sort of music gets you going?

Photo Credit: Taylor Burnes via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Taylor Burnes via Compfight cc

I used to enjoy Grooveshark but now I use Pandora or an album I purchased. Some of my favorite artists are Frightened Rabbit, Of Monsters and Men, Hey Marseilles, Mumford & Sons – Wilder Mind Album, and Florence + the Machine.

A good song can also set the mood for a scene. Need something mysterious with piano and strings as characters are trying to solve a puzzle? I use the soundtrack from A Lady in the Water.

A noble charge across a plain in your fantasy novel? The soundtrack for The Two Towers in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy does the trick.

If a character dies or is parted, I listen to the magnificent string piece by Alan Silvestri from the movie Cast Away.

This is the part where Chuck and Wilson the Volleyball are separated. It may seem silly but the inanimate object has been his only friend for years. I did this and I hear the music every time I read the piece I wrote while listening to it. I cannot help but tear up.

As you work on your piece, do you listen to music? Do you listen to a streaming service? If so, what are some of your favorite streaming sites, bands, or inspirational pieces?

Writing to Music – Impossible or Essential?

At first I thought the idea preposterous. Trying to articulate a sentence using carefully chosen words, while guitars, drums, and a forlorn singer are echoing rhythmic poetry into your ears at unnecessary loud volumes. It’s like two people trying to go through a turnstile to board a subway from opposite sides. It simply does not work…or does it?

Coincidentally, I have, at least to my feeble understanding of what writing is, composed my best chapters when listening to Frightened Rabbit or one of my favorite classical movie soundtracks. I even finished a draft of a novel while doing it. I am not sure if it is the simple fact that I listened to the same music again and again while writing a particular chapter or novel, but after a while, I simply could not write without music.

There are many places to get music: iTunes, Pandora, but I choose Grooveshark. My friend Josh introduced me to it and its my favorite website for music I’ve discovered thus far. If you have other places (legal domains only please) do share.

I often write to Frightened Rabbit‘s live album Liver!Lung!FR! Why? I’m not sure exactly. While their music may be sometimes over the line, they remind me of Mumford & Sons only a bit more, well, English.

The soundtrack to Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen has been a favorite. The single movie of the trilogy that I did watch, I did not like. But the soundtrack to Transformer 2: Revenge of the Fallen help me finish my latest draft on The Tale of Calelleth. Why? The noble trumpets made me think of a cavalry charge and self-sacrifice, two events incorporated at the end of my book.

The soundtrack to War Horse is my new favorite. I have started my next novel which takes places at Keuka Lake in upstate New York. Its a tremendously verdant area, filled with green mountains, groves and groves of trees, and deep mysterious lakes. It is also about friendship between two kids who meet there one summer and an event that changes them forever. I hear this in the music. I can imagine the films’ landscape while listening to the soundtrack and it combines a feast of imagery that fuels my writing.

Regardless of what I listen too it must either fit the story or scene. It can also be the a random album just like Frightened Rabbit. However, I could never write about something sad while listening to a song blazing at a furious pace. For that I must have something melancholy, striking a chord, releasing a flood of mental images that pours from my finger tips and onto the page.

How about you? What music do you listen to when you write, if any? Do you find it too distracting?