Writing with Music. Why it can be bad.

Some people write with music, other’s find that it distracts them. I know that I can’t even begin to form sentences in silence. Music carries my writing process, making it so much easier. However, there’s a line between helpful and hurtful when it comes to tunes and typing. Good music will be background to the story that evolves inside my head. Becca can also attest to this. When you’ve found a great song to write to, it doesn’t influence your writing but it just allows you to keep up a momentum. It’s like the engine, but you yourself are the driver — leading the car down the different paths.

What you don’t want is for that engine to develop a brain of its own and go on auto-drive, choosing the roads for you. At least, in my experience with music and writing. I’ve had many scenes flip-flop tone once a depressing song switched on, and likewise all of a sudden my characters want to party down when an up-beat jam blares through my iPod. What?! No!

This is definitely when music can be a bad thing. I’ve learned that the hard way. So here’s some of the steps I’ve made to listening to music while I write:

  1. Only one song. That means the song will be on repeat until I suck the life from it. This eliminates any tone-jumps if the song switches. And if it’s a good writing song, then I’ll barely be listening to it while I write. Essentially it will become background noise.
  2. Instrumental songs are better. Becca actually leans towards the instrumental (no singing)  music more than me. But it helps a lot when you’re being distracted by all the singing. Plus, soundtracks and scores to movies can be highly epic to write with!
  3. Pick a song that fits the mood. If it’s a sad scene, I can’t have a party song in the background. My iPod has a majority of depressing music on it anyway, so I usually go for the somber beats.
  4. Be prepared for the aftermath. I realize this is vague, but what I mean is that writing with music can completely ruin a song. After I’ve worn out a fair share of my favorite beats, I’ll go back to them months or years later and listen again. What do I think of when I hear that song??? Yep, the book I was writing. In fact, if I start another book, writing with a previously used song is near impossible.

So those are the rules I follow. Usually I go for the softer tunes that can float away in the background. Here’s are some songs that I’ve written to and abused the repeat button far too much:


And here’s one of Becca’s Instrumental favorites:

Do you write with music? Do you have rules about your song choices? Or just what kind of music do you listen to? Seriously, I think I listen to everything — except country 😉

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