Friday, June 8, 2012

Mood Music

I like to write in silence.

I mean SILENCE. No noise whatsoever. My writing time is usually when no one else is even in the house, or when they're sleeping and the house has fallen silent. If I have to write with other people wandering around, I reach for headphones and plug into a repeating track that sounds just like a windy day in Wales, because for me that's like white noise, erasing everything around me.

But this past month, while I worked in an unprecedented frenzy to complete the latest novel before deadline, something strange (for me) began to happen:

I began to download certain songs, and play them (still with headphones, on my iPod) while I worked on certain scenes. At first, I only played the songs before I started writing, but I caught myself a few times writing while I listened, which is very odd for me.

I had a little playlist, by the end. Most of the songs were directly related to characters. A few chords of Robbie Williams' Better Man and I was right in the mind of my past hero, Edmund O'Connor. Daughtrey's What About Now set the scene for my present day second-chance lovers. And so on.

I can honestly say this has never happened to me before with a book, so I'm not sure whether it was a one-off or the start of a new habit, but it's got me very curious. I know other authors create playlists for the books they write, because I've seen them mentioned here and there, I just never thought I would be one of them.

Here's one of my favourite songs from my playlist for The Firebird. As with Daughtrey's, it definitely belonged to my modern day hero, Rob:

Video Details † Bon Jovi

Do you use music when you write (or read)? 


  1. I have to write my first draft in complete silence. Just like you, either when no one is home or else sleeping. On top of that I use foam earplugs. But I do love music that helps transport me to my characters' world, and listen before I write in the mornings while I'm puttering about getting myself ready to work. And sometimes while I edit, after I've gone over a scene or chapter a few times, I can stand to have the music (no vocals) playing in the background quietly. Right now the favorite is the soundtrack from Ken Burns' Lewis & Clark documentary. Perfect for late 18th century frontier. So is the soundtrack from Last of the Mohicans.

    And I just got a copy of Julie Fowlis' Mar A Tha Mo Chridhe, after hearing a song from that in the trailer for Pixar's BRAVE. I write a lot of Scottish characters, and love Gaelic music. Julie has a beautiful voice. I could probably edit to that, since I don't speak Gaelic.

  2. Rosie King @rcking72June 8, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    When I write, the music seems to begin to play in my head until I either (a) download the music playing in my head or, as in what I'm writing now, I, listen to the Glen Miller Channel on Pandora (I'm writing a story that takes place pre and during WWII).

  3. Normally for a draft no music or many a classical mix but I find music helpful for editing as the music helps me to focus on themes and characters....some times.


  4. No, I can't write to music, I need silence as well, although I can usually cope with background noises from the family and my dogs (have learned to ignore them). I love listening to music during car journeys though (if I'm not driving) and often get inspiration from certain songs which can trigger scenes in my head. Song lyrics can be so evocative!

  5. Jon Bon Jovi would get me in the mood anytime!