Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Music & Writing

One frequently asked question I tend to get is "What kind of music do you listen to while writing?"

I love music...but I'm not a good music listener. I tend to listen to the same song over and over and over again. I'll never forget how, in the first few months of living with my college roommate, I decided I wanted to learn the words to Bare Naked Ladies' hit single "One Week"--and I listened to it on repeat until I thought she was going to stab me in my sleep.

When in the car or exercising or nearly any other time, I like my music loud and fast. But when writing, I need a rare kind of song that's not too fast and not too slow, that's doesn't distract me but that I don't completely ignore, that's not too loud or too soft.

I need a Goldilocks song.

While working on edits for A MILLION SUNS, I have come up with a small collection of songs that are perfect. And I just listen to them over and over and over again. Over the last few weeks I've developed a playlist of 10 songs that I listen to on repeat. Proof:


Heh. Yeah. That's 400 plays of "Forbidden Friendship" from the How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack. It's more than double the listens of most of the other songs because for a couple of weeks, that's the only song I was listening to--that song on repeat all day.

It would drive most people crazy, I think, to listen to the same thing over and over, but I like it for writing. I get in a zone where I forget about the music, and the repetitive music helps me stay in the zone. Occasionally I'll write while listening to the radio or Pandora, but every once in awhile, they'll play just a terrible song that I hate, or something that clashes and it'll break my concentration.

In truth, I'm a little envious of the writers who actually have a cool playlist. I see lots of (cooler) writers who post these playlists with AMAZING songs that perfectly hit the mood of the book. I know some writers who won't start writing until they've picked out individual songs for each of their characters or made a book playlist. For them, the songs create a mood that fits the books. These people are so much cooler than me. I'm just going to be jamming away to the same songs on repeat in the corner ;)

PS: I feel the need to explain that "Across the Universe" by the Beatles has such a low number of plays because this is my A MILLION SUNS song list. For ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, I had over 800 plays of the song. :P

22 comments:

E.J. Wesley said...

You've got Adele AND How To Train Your Dragon on there so you're aces in my book! :-)

Pustoaica said...

I love "Someone like you". It's more than a drug.

Sandy said...

I play songs on repeat for the longest time too! I wear headphones usually though so no one wants to kill me. I usually play the songs for days until I grow tired of them but after a break I come back to them :)

I remember studying for an exam and I would play 1 particular score all the time cause it helped keep me calm.

Safari Poet said...

I love Adele's new album. Set Fire to the Rain is one of my most played songs off her album.

All the best with writing :-)

Anita Saxena said...

I wish I could listen to music when I write. I get all caught up in the lyrics and then I end up writing the lyrics down instead of my story. But I can definitely see how it would be great for mood/character setting. Best of luck with edits.

Krispy said...

I can't really listen to music when I write. It's usually too distracting. I did want to say I LOVE the Kingdom Dance track from Tangled, and Blackbird is one of my favorite Beatles songs!

Bane of Anubis said...

When writing some of my dragon fighting scenes, I listened to Nickelback's 'Burn it to the Ground' over and over... when my MC was in psychological torture situations, Shinedown's 'The Sound of Madness' was blaring on super loud repeat.

Yay for repeat music.

Miriam Forster said...

I'm a little like you, except it's not one song, it's one TYPE of song. I write best to melodic rock/pop songs of the K.T. Tunstall variety. As long as all the songs are of the same type, I can stay in the zone and write without distraction. But throw in anything else, and it doesn't really work.

Also Kingdom Dance=awesome!

Jessica A. Briones said...

I know what you mean about listening to a song that doesn't distract you but you don't ignore. I love Adele's 21, but recently the song that's heading up there in the number of plays is Songbird by Fleetwood Mac. That's been playing non-stop all day as I pound at the key boards.
I also get what you mean about a song coming on and breaking your concentration. it's so true that the same song keeps you in the zone and I need that because I am so easily distracted.

Sarah said...

I totally agree about listening to the same songs and zoning out - it's rather meditative and helpful for thinking (and writing, I imagine, had I any writing skill:)

Elana Johnson said...

No! This makes complete and total sense! I do the same EXACT THING. And I'm stealing your playlist and downloading the ones I don't already have.

Brilliant!

Cary Cheyenne. said...

Awesome playlist :) I've been listening to a lot of Adele lately too! She's brilliant!

Litzalou said...

Those are my 3 favorite Beatles songs! The Call is also one of my favorite Regina Spektor songs... I like your playlist, I must say. Happy writing!

Julia :) said...

Ummmm you have Adele, Regina Spektor, AND the Beatles. How can you not think thats a cool playlist? Haha. :)

Christina Farley said...

I'm big into play lists too. I will have to check out some of those songs. For my latest WIP, I've had a lot of the songs from the soundtracks of Avatar and Narnia.

Heather Zundel said...

I like that Forbidden Friendship is your most-played song. ^_^

Trisha said...

For some reason I never thought of listening to a small handful of songs over and over again for writing :) But it's a good idea, since some songs really DO inspire for particular storylines...

BTW, are you on Last.fm?? People can see what songs you listen to there, I love the site :) So those 400 plays would be displayed on Last.fm too :D

Cathy Keaton said...

OMG, I LOVE that song! "Forbidden Friendship" from HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. Someone else loves it, too.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Thanks for sharing, Beth. Sadly, I can't listen to music when I write. I book-talked ATU to my classes yesterday and it was SO MUCH FUN! :-)

V.R. Leavitt said...

That's funny. I tend to be a solo track listener too! Good choices you have there!

Customized Essay said...

Great playlist!!!!!Nice job..

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