Playlists for Writing

Next to Starbucks and, you know, the ability to transform thoughts into written language, music is a writer’s best friend.  Now, I know what you’re thinking: there are different schools of thought on this subject (is there any subject where there aren’t?).  Some writers must have music playing while they write, some can only listen to a certain type of music, and some eschew music altogether.  I’ve gone through all of these phases myself.  But one thing I can say for certain is that music has informed all of my writing in one way or another, even if it was only as an inspiration outside of the writing process itself–i.e., listening to a symphony or a song and thinking up plot ideas or character arcs, etc.

It also seems to depend a great deal on what I’m writing.  For more serious, complex writing, I tend to either work in silence or listen only to ambient, instrumental music that creates atmosphere without being distracting.  This holds true the majority of the time, for me: I listen to a lot of ambient or downtempo electronic music (Aphex Twin, Tycho, Bonobo) or classical music (Bach, Mozart, Boccherini).

When I’m writing something fast-paced and plot-heavy, though, I do like to rev it up a little.  The manuscript I’ve just finished and am currently editing is a post-apocalyptic young adult novel, the first in a series, about a group of young people on a mission to save their community.  Their religion is a far-future take on Mormonism, and the perils they face are by and large fantastic and bloody.

My latest thing is making writing playlists on Spotify (shell out for premium; you’ll never spend too much on iTunes again).  I called the playlist for this book The Blessed, after the main characters’ name for their people.  I wanted a mixture of young, dramatic rock and traditional religious music; I’m quite pleased with the results.  The great thing, too, is that each playlist is a work in progress.  I’m always adding to and changing them.  Here’s The Blessed:

spotify:user:1232009644:playlist:3ieCgb9LUoEPl9NqPSSOUR

I almost always listen to playlists on shuffle, these days, so the song order isn’t important.  What are your musical habits when it comes to writing?

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