How Music Affects the Writing Process

How Music Affects the Writing Process

Music is used in stores to prolong the shopping experience. In movies, music (or the lack of it) is utilized to enhance the scene. Advertising agencies have invested time and money into music for jingles that keep products in your head or a television series in the forefront of your mind.

Music is also one of the key aspects of my writing process.

Music Encourages Focus

The first step in my writing process is to turn on my music. I do not require utter silence in order to write. In fact, silence is distracting, which might be due to my history as a one-in-four sibling growing up on a 30-acre homestead in Oregon. There was always some type of noise to compete with. This forced me to learn to “tune out” in order to get anything done. Now, I look to music and other types of white noise to keep me on task.

To give me something to ignore. Seriously. I wish I had my headphones right now so I could tune out the television and conversations booming behind me.

Music Enhances Mood

I have more than seven days of music on my computer in genres ranging from alternative to industrial to techno. This broad range of styles helps me create a writing soundtrack, as it were, for a specific scene, character, era, or particular intensity I want to impart to my readers. For my newest release Searching for Sara, I utilized my playlist of classical music to submerse myself in music of the period (the novel is set in the mid 1890s). I enhanced that selection with more modern symphonic undertones to help me with scenes of dark intensity and grief. Having that foundation encouraged my mind to seek out those power words to convey the agony of the hero.

Music Promotes Inspiration

Did you ever hear a piece of music or watch a movie that tugged at your heart and soul so profoundly you were left to sit in utter silence? The Christian groups Skillet and Building 429 are two such artists who inspire me to create characters or scenes. Their melodies and lyrics move me to seek an outlet for those poignant emotions. In fact, I generally listen to Christian alternative or rock while working on my Young Adult fiction series Changing Scenes, in order to harness the chaos and intense emotions I remember experiencing as a teen.

Music Encourages Us to Seek Inspiration

I cannot stress enough the importance of finding those doors and windows to your writing passion. If you are intrigued and loving (or hating) of your characters, your readers will pick up on that intensity and turn pages. Music helps me “channel” the necessary mood. But what about you? What have you found that encourages inspiration?

Tell me your opinion: Do you listen to music while writing?

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About Nona Mae King

Nona King is an independent
writing professional for Angel Breath Books. She has dedicated herself to
writing true-to-life characters, be they villain or hero, so her readers can
experience life and its many passions. All her stories focus on faith, honor,
and the importance of communication and trust in our relationships with others. Her latest book is Searching for Sara, story of how two people face their daily tortures of fear and grief to find healing and
happiness.

Comments

  1. darkocean says:

    I never knew anyone else did this. =D Sometimes while writing a chapter a song will pop into my head as clear as if it’s playing. So I have to go hunt it own on you-tube, tab it and listen to it while finishing the chapter. I think each chapter decides it’s own mood.

    Bon von Jovi’s Blaze of glory is the one I play while working on the end chapters. That beautiful voice and eh meaning behind the words makes me almost teary. (I know, melodrama 😛 lol.) Sometimes a song fits into a chapter like, a lost puzzle piece.

  2. What I’d like to know is: Do you have a music folder in Scrivener to keep your all music handy for each project? Or, do you keep a song or two in each scene to evoke the atmosphere of the action at hand?

    I just recently discovered your website and have found it very helpful. Thank you very much.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      You can put music in Scrivener? I didn’t even know it could do that. So, obviously, no. :p I usually just pick an appropriate soundtrack and go from there.

  3. I can only write to the music I know so that I don’t pay attention to words or something new that would distract me. And it’s also intereresting to discover other writers’ playlists, which I do here http://musicforwriters.com/

  4. Great article. Thank you. Found it while wondering if other writers use music as I do. Classical is helpful but I can only take about 20 minutes of that before I feel I’m having my teeth drilled. Rock, jazz- yes. To me, the best writing is rhythmic, it has quiet periods and builds to thundering crescendos. Then back to calm, rational or puzzled or sad or even happy. Quiet periods must be had to give me (and the reader) a rest- like a roller coaster. There are lesser and greater crescendos, and lesser and greater pullbacks, just like music. My genre is spy novels (without all the guns and bombs- more cerebral than physical), but I don’t think use of music is genre-specific.

  5. This is exactly how I’ve liked to write for many years, not only my opinion pieces and former articles but my poetry and my blogging. Music is an inspiration and I do find silence and being spoken to a distraction, yet I will sit in a cafe with my headphones plugged in and will write away, I even find it easy to do my research by music as it helps me visualise, imagine and focus.

    Although I seem to have hit this kind of block where I can write blogs etc but I have not been able to return to my draft stories for many years.

  6. My mom always yells at me when I have music on and I’m trying to write a paper. Thanks for this article now I can show her that it really does help!

    • See it her way music she didn’t grow up with and doesn’t have the taste for is being played very loudly and it’s irritating to her. Plug in your ear buds to a front port and you both can be happy.

  7. Yep, without music there is no inspiration. I completely agree with this. I fond of jazz and I can’t imagine my working process without it as a background.

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  1. […] said, what is the effect of music to the writer? In “How Music Affects the Writing Process” by Nona Mae King, King outlines how turning on her music actually begins her writing process. She says that […]

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