The Need for Music

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I’ve written about needing music when I write before.  Felt like revisiting because it’s come up in conversations again.  Although, I do know that this isn’t common for authors.  Most I know need silence.  So, why am I not the same?

A big part of this comes from how I grew up.  Now, I had my own room, so I had privacy for the most part.  It’s just that the house was noisy.  I’d hear people through the door or the vents, so there was never utter silence in my room.  The worst was the phone going off, someone yelling up the stairs, or a bell used to get us to come downstairs.  Music helped to drown out the other sounds, which allowed me to concentrate.  It put me at ease because silence made me think about the other noises turning up.  Guess this was the early stages of my anxiety too, which music helped to minimize.

Music became a sign that I was working too.  I noticed that doing homework or writing when it was quiet caused people to interrupt me.  If I wasn’t making noise, it was assumed I wasn’t doing anything.  So, the noise acted as a shield against anything that wasn’t an emergency.  This is why I can’t really focus on writing when I don’t have some type of noise.  I need either music or the TV on to keep myself relaxed enough that I can focus on the story.  It’s usually music, but the TV gets used if I’m doing an outline since that’s more flexible.  Either way, I just can’t function in silence out of fear of being interrupted.

Of course, the other aspect is that I need to control the noise.  Some people have tried to help by playing music around me, but it makes me twitchier.  Again, we’re seeing the anxiety turn up.  I need to be the one to decide on if the music gets paused, louder, softer, or changes to another station.  If someone else is doing it then I feel like I’m locked in a car with blacked out windows and no seatbelt.  Never know if the driver is going to change things on me, so my mind fixates on that issue.  The writing gets done, but there’s a jitteriness and rush that I have to iron out with edits.

It’s funny that I’m not good at making music, but I enjoy listening to it.  Then again, I’m sure that’s common.  Still, I get surprised responses when I have music playing while writing.  People really don’t get it.  I assume there’s a stereotype of the author in a quiet room and getting annoyed at anything louder than a mouse fart.  Not sure where that came from, but it’s not me.  Never will be.

So, what are some things you need in your writing environment?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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11 Responses to The Need for Music

  1. I can handle music, but vocals throw me off. I start listening to someone else’s story and lose focus on my own. Did time with classical and it works great. Discovered some video game music that was wonderful, and soundtracks are a mixed bag. I write in silence quite a bit, but have also started down the path of ambient noise, too.

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  2. Silence and music both work for me. I usually put music on when someone’s making a noise with power tools outside. The type of music can help a lot with what I’m writing. At the moment I’m working on a supernatural horror series for kids and I’ve found some wonderful dark ambient music on YouTube that suits it perfectly.
    Incidentally, my mother installed a bell in my bedroom so she could ring to get me downstairs. She said it was because she couldn’t make herself heard above the loud music I used to play!

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  3. L. Marie says:

    I have the same issue as Craig. I prefer instrumental. I can’t work to music that includes lyrics. Most of the time though, I need silence, especially if I have a deadline and really need to get something done. But if I’m doing busy work like research or edits, music can be helpful. But it depends on the music. I prefer movie soundtracks like Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse (the musical score one; though I have some of the songs from the other soundtrack)

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  4. My first three books were written to music. Since then I have found I don’t need music to focus. I can’t tell you why either.

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  5. Jennie says:

    I totally get it!

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