There are a million ways you can set your own individual writing atmosphere, and as usual, experimentation is essential to creating an atmosphere that works for your brain.
Music is universal to the human experience. We all listen to it. The awesome part is when music is used selectively and consistently, it can be a devastating weapon to wield against your editorial thought processes (that intruding left brain) during your creative processes.
When choosing music for writing, consider:
- Pump up the Volume: Before you begin to write, play some music that you really connect with. At this point, it is best to play any type of music that makes you want to jump around and dance! It doesn’t matter if this music has lyrics or not, as long as it creates a creative reaction inside you. If loud or energetic music doesn’t work for you, perhaps try the opposite: complete silence, such as through meditation. Music isn’t always the best to use pre-writing. When I wake up and write at 3am (my best creative time of the day), I never start with music in order to keep my brain from waking up too fully.
- Music to Accompany Your Writing: While writing, your music should not have lyrics (see below). The style of story you are writing should influence your genre and choice of music, since the music will affect your mood (so if I’m writing an epic fantasy, I’d reach for the Braveheart soundtrack as an audio background). Your playlist should be short, and if you get in the creative zone, you won’t even notice when your music has turned off. Some examples of music I use while writing are: Mark Gunn’s Irish and Celtic Music podcast, classical music (especially Beethoven and Rachmaninoff), anything with classical guitar or cello (Zoe Keating), Enya, and especially movie soundtracks (Lord of the Rings is pretty epic).
- No Lyrics: As I mentioned before, it is important while writing to choose music without lyrics. This does not include lyrics in a foreign language, as long as the words are unintelligible (think: no cognates that sound similar to English). Words that sound like English will distract your brain from all your hard work. Sometimes you may choose a song with lyrics on purpose, and in that case it will be that you wish the specific song will affect your story and style of writing.
- Consistency: Using the same music (or at least beginning with the same song) every time you sit down to write will train your brain to know when it’s time to be creative, and there will be less of a struggle to shut down your editor-left brain. Give this a shot. You know it works when you hear your chosen song when your not about to write, and you unexpectedly feel your brain’s creative juices flow.
These are all things I’ve learned through questioning experienced writers as well as my own trial and error. Let me know what works and what doesn’t for you as well, I’d love to know!
- An American Mind (netnewmusic.net)
- Alan Juristovski: Long Live the Music Industry, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Lyrics… (huffingtonpost.com)
- Vancouver’s Lyric Pusher takes story to Huffington Post (techvibes.com)