Like writing, music is a big part of my life. I am married to a musician, and that means plenty of song, heaps of sound, and loads of (real) rock band. I have consequently become a “drummer-in-training” for accompaniment purposes. Yes, my (writing) life is a melodious one.
When it comes to writing, there is always music playing in the background (in some form or another), and I’d probably be lost without it. As I write this, I am listening to Arcade Fire (The Suburbs), their “sprawling but intimate new album.” Some other faves from the soundtrack to my writing life, are: MGMT, Weezer, The Cardigans, and (forgive me for this), Vinyl 95.3.
According to research from the University of California, listening to music creates new neural pathways in our brains that stimulate creativity. Music can train the brain for higher forms of thinking (bonus!). For me, music definitely inspires and sets a mood. It can also unleash writer’s block, relax the brain, jump-start a session, and infuse fiction with rich emotion. Music might just be my perfect muse.
How to use music as part of your writing practice:
- Claim a starting song: Okay, this is vaguely similar to Pavlov’s famous experiments with dogs. Sound the bell. Play your song—every time you sit down to write. Consider Aerosmith’s Back In The Saddle Again.
- Reflect the time period: Connect with your characters in every way possible. Are you chronicling the 1980s disco period? If so, you should, like, totally fill your writing brain with M-a-d-o-n-n-a.
- Set the mood: Play music that reflects what you’re writing. If it’s action, how about some Smashing Pumpkins, Muse, or even Guiseppe Verdi’s, Stiffelio.
- Keep it light: If this is all too much for you, give Mozart or Vivaldi a try for background music. Higher brain function will be yours.
- Silence is golden: Use your starting song to get going, and then turn it off.
I. Love. Music. I am always surprised how quickly my brain responds to music. Give it a try. Do it often and be consistent; consistency is, after all, the age-old practice of successful writers.
What is YOUR music to write by?