I was rather surprised years ago when people asked me how I can listen to music while I write. They assumed it was a distraction or hurt my progress. Yet, I’ve always done it and never suffered. Other things got in the way, but music kept me focused whenever I had the time. So, I was thinking of giving a few random tips to anyone who wants to try writing with music.
- Do not make the music so loud that you can’t think. This is supposed to be background noise, which can stir the subconscious a little bit. If you’re unable to hear your own thoughts then you have to turn the volume down. Also, don’t be afraid to adjust the volume as the writing session progresses.
- Pick music that you will enjoy, but not necessarily distract you. This can differ from person to person. I toss on a Personal Channel I have on Pandora or an Alternative Rock station while I work. These are genres that I like listening too, but I won’t try to sing along. One can even create playlists that are designed for specific scene types if the goal is to help with inspiration.
- If you need to pause or mute the music then do so. Like any project, you may hit a point where you can’t focus with any noise. A piece won’t fit or a character isn’t coming out right, so you need to try changing your environment. On the opposite side, you may need to step away from the book and listen to the music while thinking to get through an idea. Try both methods if you want.
- Never feel forced to listen to music while writing. It isn’t for everyone.
- Try to maintain control of the music. If someone else is working the source then you’ll find yourself getting jolted out of ideas. For example, you may be listening to a rock song that helps with an action scene. Halfway through, your significant other chances it to a romantic pop song and you get derailed. You can become irritable towards them or toss out the scene, which may still have good stuff. It’s similar to being jolted awake by an alarm. Nobody likes it regardless of how often it happens.
- If you write in public and listen to music then you need headphones. Also, make sure they’re plugged in and working. Last thing you want is to blast raunchy rock songs in the middle of the library. That might not get you looks at Starbucks, but definitely not the library.