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Writing Advice & Discussion > Do you make a music playlist to write by

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message 1: by Ann (last edited Jun 14, 2016 10:12AM) (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments I just finished the first draft of my first novel. YAY! While it's in the read/rewrite cycle, I thought I would start the rough draft for another idea.

I like setting the mood, so I listen to music while I write. During the course of the now completed draft, the music constantly changed, but eventually I settled into a soundtrack. This time around I'm considering being more proactive in my music choices, based on the tone the idea has set in my mind.

Quesion: Do you listen to music while you write? How and when do you pick your soundtrack? :)
Readers, do you need silence when you read or do you listen to music?


message 2: by HitC (new)

HitC (hitcgirl) | 136 comments Sometimes I write to music and sometimes in silence; just depends on my mood. I either let my music shuffle or sometimes I pick an album and put it on repeat. Often scenes in my stories will automatically make me think of a song & vice versa so when I come to that scene or a scene that needs the same feel, I will put whatever song it may be on repeat.

Congrats on finishing your first novel!


message 3: by Juan (new)

Juan Zapata | 66 comments I sometimes listen to music. With a short story I got published, I was writing something fantastical so I listened to In Noctem-Half Blood Prince (from the Harry Potter movies). I highly recommend it.

When I wrote a tragic death and the consequences arising from it, I listened to The Immolation Scene (from Star Wars when Anakin was defeated Episode 3).

There's also a wonderful complication of writing music on youtube. Music for Writing I The Phantom Music has about two hours of great music with the names of each song.


message 4: by Ann (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments Tiffany, your process sounds very similar to my own. I put a single song on repeat a few times :)

Thanks for the suggestions, Juan. Always looking for some good fantasy inspiring music! :)


message 5: by Alex (new)

Alex Tamburro (alextamburro) | 41 comments Personally, I almost always have to write with music if I want to write any substantial amount. I do have a specific song for every major scene I've written and I usually play it on repeat until I'm done. For the not-as-important scenes I have playlists I shuffle through for that tone.

When I read, it's usually in silence but once in a while I play this song called "Hidden Truth" from an anime called Vampire Knight.


message 6: by Jeff (new)

Jeff | 25 comments Not a specific playlist, but I found that certain pieces put me in the right mood for things.
If I'm just muddling through the guts of something, I'll put on something unobtrusive. However, if I know a particular scene is coming I'll throw on something that fits.
I wrote 80% of my current manuscript to Septic Flesh's last two albums, Slipknot's Gray Chapter, Yob's Clearing the Path to Ascend, and a fair amount of Cathedral related doom on Spotify. I did listen to Judas Priest's Turbo Lover a few times for one particular scene.


message 7: by Ann (last edited Jun 14, 2016 12:40PM) (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments Alex, I've had to get used to having life in the background when I read, mostly my husband watching YouTube videos or listening to podcasts. xD

Wow, Jeff! That "playlist" is intense. Must be a pretty action packed book :)


message 8: by Tracey-anne (new)

Tracey-anne McCartney | 16 comments Hi, all :o)
I always listen to a playlist prior to writing. It really helps in removing reality, taking me to another time and place. ;o) Each character has a playlist and I listen to particular songs when writing certain scenes. Yes, I too, put them on repeat. Love it. Can't imagine writing without music.
Great topic.
Trace :o)


message 9: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments My music choices always change depending on the scene/mood I'm writing. The most inspirational music I'm listening to right now is Pandora's Novo Amor channel. Absolutely love it!
Novo Amor
Amber Run
Dustin Tebbutt
Hayden Calnin
Those are the most inspirational artists to me when writing.


message 10: by Ann (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments Thanks, Tracey-anne! I wondered if I wasn't alone :) I'm not! YAY!

Danielle, Pandora is great, right?! I'm building my list, for my new project, from Goo Goo Dolls radio right now :)


message 11: by Jeff (new)

Jeff | 25 comments Chirpyreading wrote: "Alex, I've had to get used to having life in the background when I read, mostly my husband watching YouTube videos or listening to podcasts. xD

Wow, Jeff! That "playlist" is intense. Must be a pre..."


It isn't as happy go lucky as LotR or HP (HP Lovecraft, maybe), that much is certain.


message 12: by Ann (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments Jeff wrote: "Chirpyreading wrote: "Alex, I've had to get used to having life in the background when I read, mostly my husband watching YouTube videos or listening to podcasts. xD

Wow, Jeff! That "playlist" is ..."


Love me some Lovecraft! Sounds interesting. :)


message 13: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Chirpyreading wrote: "Thanks, Tracey-anne! I wondered if I wasn't alone :) I'm not! YAY!

Danielle, Pandora is great, right?! I'm building my list, for my new project, from Goo Goo Dolls radio right now :)"


It is! I have many different channels that I listen to depending on the mood of the story.


message 14: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Frediani Chirpyreading wrote:
Quesion: Do you listen to music while you write? How and when do you pick your soundtrack? :)
Readers, do you need silence when you read or do you listen to music? "


I cannot write without music. I'm hearing impaired and music is a lot nicer to listen to than my tinnitus. I've also found that a lot of my writing comes from the music, usually not the lyrics, just the music itself. Sometimes the lyrics spark something. One in particular - The Dance (short story) was written around and includes the lyrics of Matter of Time by Brother. Obviously I can never publish it because it does include the lyrics. Another short story - Temptation - was written to Blue Groove by Eileen Ivers. A novella, Emach's Story, was written to Cross of Changes, The Screen Behind the Mirror and Le Roi Est Mort, Vive le Roi! all by Enigma. Beyond the Invisible, another short story, was written to the Enigma song of the same title. Dance of Seduction (short story) was written to Underground by Dagda, if I remember correctly. Those are the ones I can remember and link directly to their "soundtrack."

Picking a soundtrack - depends. Sometimes I already know the mood or feel. Sometimes I just put some CDs on the player (5 disc changer I can put on repeat) and see if it "fits." If it doesn't, I change until I find something that does. Some artists and some genres work better than others. I have quite a bit written to Enigma. Classical often works. Heavy metal sometimes works. If I'm starting something new, I'll put a mix on and see if anything "speaks" (sings?). If I'm really not sure, I put on several compilations (Best of...) and see what feels right.

I need music, or something, playing the background whether I'm reading or writing. Silence drives me nuts because all I hear is my tinnitus and it ain't fun.


message 15: by Jeff (new)

Jeff | 25 comments Chirpyreading wrote: "Jeff wrote: "Chirpyreading wrote: "Alex, I've had to get used to having life in the background when I read, mostly my husband watching YouTube videos or listening to podcasts. xD

Wow, Jeff! That "..."


I'm definitely not as good as Lovecraft, but the manuscript I'm working on has a similar "This isn't going to end well" arc to it. It's total opposite of him in that it is 250k words long.

I am looking for Beta readers ;)


message 16: by Alex (new)

Alex Tamburro (alextamburro) | 41 comments Chirpyreading wrote: "Alex, I've had to get used to having life in the background when I read, mostly my husband watching YouTube videos or listening to podcasts. xD

Yeah, I live with my family so by "silence" I mean I can hear my younger brother yelling for *some* reason and my mother running around my house doing things. My sister is fairly quiet. Go her!


message 17: by James (new)

James Devo | 8 comments I've been listing my writing playlists on my blog if you're interested. 30 tracks from soundtracks, with links to Youtube...
Here's the latest -
https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...


message 18: by Ann (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments Sandaidh wrote: "I cannot write without music. I'm hearing impaired and music is a lot nicer to listen to than my tinnitus. "

I'm sorry you have to live with tinnitus. :( Glad you have ways of dealing with it though :) I like your idea of writing specifically to music and using lyrics. That would be good practice. Like flash fiction. Very cool!

Jeff, Not sure I'm up for beta reading yet. I have a rewrite going on, I've started a new rough draft and now my husband has recruited me to help him with a script. xD I'm storied out for now. But still super interested in reading it at some point!

James, I'll check that out! Thanks!


message 19: by S. (new)

S. McPherson (smcphersonbooks) | 14 comments I love putting together playlists to suit different scenes in the book: sad, romantic, action and fast paced. It helps so much and hopefully seeps into the writing like a soundtrack :)


message 20: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn McBride (carolynmcbride) | 12 comments Chirpyreader asked; Question: Do you listen to music while you write? How and when do you pick your soundtrack? :)
Readers, do you need silence when you read or do you listen to music?

When I write, what I play is influenced by the story, and ultimately the scene, I'm writing. I keep playlists for genre, built on what works for the genres I write, and what doesn't work.
Are you familiar with the Lord of The Rings movies? In particular, the scene right after Gandalf and the Balrog do battle, when the rest of the Fellowship is mourning his loss. That particular piece of music, for me, evokes such emotion that if I want to convey sadness, I make sure to have it on a loop.

In one of my stories, a major character is diving toward her friend to save her from a drive-by shooting. When I wrote it, I was stunned when I looked up a half hour later with tears streaming down my cheeks, to find that the major character herself had been shot. I bawled when she died in a pool of her own blood, and somehow, the friend she had been trying to save, ended up saving her. To this day, I still say the scene would not have packed the emotional wallop many of my readers felt with a different piece of music. But if I'm working on my domestic terrorism novella, I use more action driven music. I've recently finished a speculative fiction short story that was written almost entirely to slow jazz.

But reading? No music, nothing. I can read during blather television, but music distracts me from the words.


Go figure.


message 21: by Ann (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments Carolyn wrote: "Chirpyreader asked; Question: Do you listen to music while you write? How and when do you pick your soundtrack? :)
Readers, do you need silence when you read or do you listen to music?

When I writ..."


That's really cool. I love how the music distracts me enough to let my characters breathe and act on their own. It's how I get out of my own way. :)

Hearing about other people's processes is fascinating. Thanks, everyone, for sharing!


message 22: by Elliot (new)

Elliot Brooks | 46 comments Absolutely! I was a music major in college, so half of my inspiration for certain scenes come from listening to orchestral music.

I will say, though, that I can't listen to music WHILE I'm writing. I might listen to it in my car for inspiration when I'm driving to and from work, and then doing so helps get the creative juices flowing :)

I actually mentioned using music as a way to overcome writer's block in a video if you're interested in checking it out: https://youtu.be/F2D-h_tgzjw

What kinda of music do all of you listen to? :)


message 23: by James (new)

James Devo | 8 comments Speaking of inspiration from music or sound while NOT writing, I'm currently trying to find the way into a scene based around a bomber type scenario and came across this amazingly evocative piece of audio - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MF5_h...


message 24: by Cristal (new)

Cristal | 2 comments on Spotify i listen to all of Sarah j Maas's playlists and i made a playlist of all of Hans Zimmer. He is an amazing composer he did alot of movies like pirates of the Caribbean, Man of steel, Sherlock Holmes, Inception (Time on the Inception soundtrack is my favorite )


message 25: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Cristal wrote: "on Spotify i listen to all of Sarah j Maas's playlists and i made a playlist of all of Hans Zimmer. He is an amazing composer he did alot of movies like pirates of the Caribbean, Man of steel, Sher..."

Just checked out Sarah J Mass's playlist! Thanks, this will be a good one I think :)


message 26: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn McBride (carolynmcbride) | 12 comments James wrote: "Speaking of inspiration from music or sound while NOT writing, I'm currently trying to find the way into a scene based around a bomber type scenario and came across this amazingly evocative piece o..."

That was very cool, thanks for sharing it!


message 27: by Krysten (new)

Krysten (krystenbennett) | 2 comments I definitely need music when writing (and doing anything, really – I hate silence!), and I make a playlist for each new project. I base my selections on a) lyrics that match the theme, characters' thoughts/emotions, events, etc., and 2) the music itself and how the mood aligns with certain events and feelings in the book. Sometimes listening to a particular song can spark a new idea or scene. Spotify is a GREAT tool for making custom playlists and trying out new music, and I also love the website moretrackslikethis.com to find similar artists and songs.


message 28: by Carolyn (last edited Jul 09, 2016 09:39AM) (new)

Carolyn McBride (carolynmcbride) | 12 comments Krysten wrote: "I definitely need music when writing (and doing anything, really – I hate silence!), and I make a playlist for each new project. I base my selections on a) lyrics that match the theme, characters' ..."

I love Spotify, I have a question about More Tracks Like This however. Does it work? Everything I type, no results.


message 29: by James (new)

James Devo | 8 comments Here's my latest blog about music to write to, with links to tunes -
https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...


message 30: by Ann (new)

Ann Swaim (chirpyann) | 83 comments I've never even used Spotify xD I can see it's value, but I'm too lazy to set up a playlist, so I stick with Pandora if I don't want to use music I own. lol


message 31: by Ghazal (new)

Ghazal  (Ghazalgrj) | 1 comments I listen to music too both when I draw and when I write but only instrumental (with/without vocal acquires) usually anime or video game soundtrack ... they help set the mood perfectly


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