Is Listening to Music while you Write a Distraction or an Inspiration?

When I sit down to write, one of the first things I do is open up Pandora before I start writing.

Some writers find background music a distraction, but I love to have music on while I write.

When it comes to music, I listen to aIMG_0345 little bit of everything. My taste in music include all realms of country music, from artists like Toby Keith and Jason Aldean, to the Dixie Chicks to Johnny Cash.  I listen to pop music like Maroon 5 and Justin Timberlake, and classic rock bands from the 60’s and 70’s. I have Pandora stations for Jimmy Buffet, Bob Seger and the Eagles.

But when I’m writing, I like to listen to mellow background music: Dave Matthews, John Mayer, or if I’m feeling especially emo, Death Cab for Cutie. There’s nothing like an emotionally charged song about unrequited love or a broken heart to get me into a pensive mood: Coldplay’s “Sparks,” or my favorite DMB song, “Stay or Leave.” I love anything with an acoustic guitar, or a long jam like Weezer’s “Only in Dreams.”

Music has become part of my writing process. I set Pandora to Dave Matthews Band radio and type away.

Music can set the tone or help to channel a character. When I’m writing a scene set during the Holidays, I listen to Christmas music – no matter the time of year. When I’m working on a longer project, listening to the type of music that I imagine my character would listen to, helps me get into their mindset. For my current novel-in-progress, I listen to jazz when I’m writing from the perspective of my main characters, Miranda, who is a jazz singer and pianist. Now it seems I can’t hear Frank Sinatra without thinking of Miranda. Her musical career is modeled after that of Canadian jazz artist, Diana Krall and I listen to her music for inspiration.

Do you listen to music while you write or do you find it too distracting? What songs are on your writing playlist?

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5 thoughts on “Is Listening to Music while you Write a Distraction or an Inspiration?

  1. With me it depends on a lot of things whether I listen or not. If I’m home alone with the kids the music is a siren song to them, and they find me and that ends the writing session. If hubby is home and watching TV I like turning it on with the headphones so I can’t hear him. I write epic fantasy so I love the epic soundtracks station on Pandora.

  2. I loved this — thank you for linking to it on your Writer Unboxed comment. You know about my tastes and it sounds like we share similar temperaments with music and writing. I don’t use Pandora — yet — but based on your and other comments and this blog, I know I’ll be trying it soon! Thank you!

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