Writerly Habits 2: The Playlists Keep Coming (or the marriage of music and writing)

(I had this post all done and ready to go last night, so all I’d have to do in the morning was press ‘Publish.’  And then I forgot to.  Can you say “fail”? Oh well, anyway, enjoy.)

Here’s a habit I’ve noticed to be fairly common among writers: the use of music to help focus, inspire, associate with specific scenes or characters, etc.  I’ve been known to do this, and many of my writerly friends do the same.  When I was in high school I used to create playlists for different stories; sometimes I’d have entire playlists just for one or two main characters.  These playlist got… interesting… to say the least.  I look back at some of them now, and I’m not really sure what I was thinking.  However, it still holds true that I absolutely have to have music playing to write effectively.

It really is just the perfect marriage of arts: music and writing, together forever.

I’ve learned through experimentation which artists/albums/genres will distract me, cutting through my thoughts so that all I can think about are the lyrics or melodies I’m listen to, and which ones will create a background.  I think of this background like a wall of sound that helps to block out unwanted noises and thoughts and keeps me focused on the task at hand – a little like blinders on a horse.  For such purposes I’ve found that Vivaldi and Bach are fantastic.  I also tend to listen to the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack quite a lot it, because its energetic and invigorating without being distracting (and completely awesome).

I also still associate certain genres or artists with certain stories or scenes.  For instance, one of my WIPs is a high fantasy with dark overtones and a strong, somber female main character.  While working on this story, I tend to listen to female-fronted metal bands: Within Temptation, Nightwish, Flyleaf, Evanescence.  And for a few scenes, I find that Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor is the PERFECT soundtrack.  For another one of my WIPs, an urban fantasy about a demon hunter, I listen to The Killers (let me admit right now, I’m not entirely sure HOW The Killers became associated with this story, it doesn’t make much sense when I think about it, but there ya go…).

Those are just a few examples to give you some idea how my mind works.  But I’d love to hear what others listen to.  Specific artists or songs?  Do you make playlists?  Do you look for music that is quiet and good for background music, rather than songs that are associated with stories or characters?  All of the above?

Inquiring minds want to know!

(Also, I am ALWAYS on the look out for new music suggestions.  I am VORACIOUS when it comes to music, and I’ll listen to almost any genre.  Send them my way!)

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