Music or quiet when you write?

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Terry Towery
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Music or quiet when you write?

Post by Terry Towery » January 4th, 2010, 10:19 pm

I was inspired to ask this by the "what are you listening to" thread in All Things Procrastination. It seems a lot of you listen to music while you write. I know Stephen King likes to write with old school rock blasting in his ear.

Me, I need quiet to do the actual writing. But music is so, so important to me and my creative process. I spend hours with my headphones on, listening to my playlist of favorites while ruminating on my story. I always keep my notebook handy when I do this, and to be honest, I've pretty much done all of my plotting and character development to music.

My favorites range from old school Stones, Boston, Kansas, etc., to REM, Lady Gaga, Lily Allen and Panic at the Disco. The song that I credit most in helping me complete my recent manuscript is Baby Blue by Badfinger. I can't really say why, but damn it always got me in the mood. :)

So, music or quiet? And if music, what?

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by Nathan Bransford » January 4th, 2010, 11:51 pm

Personally I have to have it all quiet. Maybe classical music if I need to block out other noise, but I get distracted with music.

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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by MedleyMisty » January 5th, 2010, 12:03 am

Music is central to my life and to my writing.

There is one song that is the perfect song for my villain, and if I'm really stuck I can turn it up and instantly be in the flow zone - Possum Kingdom, by the Toadies.

I will treat you well
my sweet angel
so help me Jesus

I have been told that sometimes when I'm working on an update I will sing along with it without realizing it and not even hear conversations being held a couple of feet away about how I'm crazy and not actually that bad at singing and how I'm singing a couple of octaves lower than my normal voice.

I actually had my husband make me a mix CD from iTunes and I named it The Seth Experience - Seth is my villain. :) Lots of Prodigy on it - but then mad beats and short repetitive lyrics fit Seth. Also some country - Banks of the Ohio and O Death. And some Primus and some Guns N Roses and some Momus - it's scary how the Momus song Murderers, the Hope of Women fits him.

in my pipe and slippers
do I look like Jack the Ripper?

Err - the other characters have their songs and there's general Valley music too. It's just...he's Seth, all right? ;)

Music, to me, is writing. I want my words to sound like screaming guitars and thumping bass. I look for how words sound, for the right alliteration, the right tones, the right rhythm. I cannot write in silence.

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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by jenniferjbennett » January 5th, 2010, 12:10 am

Music...Music...Music! It blocks out the world and gives me a sense of who I'm writing for.
Jennifer J. Bennett

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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by CharleeVale » January 5th, 2010, 12:42 am


I have a whole play list dedicated for my writing time. It has a lot of movie scores, classical, and even some new age. I like stuff without words.


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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by Hillsy » January 5th, 2010, 4:51 am

There's a trick I have to do with music while writing. (Well, at work as well. Basically anything involving concentrating or ADHD makes my life unbearable).

I'll pick an album, one I think has the right - gah how to say this without seeming ponsy - the right "feel" for what I'm writing, and I'll listen to it until I know it inside out. The subconcious knows what's coming, so stops listening. Meanwhile, the music blocks out all other sounds, meaning I can concentrate. It helps me at work so I don't kill people for holding a conversation on the desk behind me while I'm trying to manipulate spreadsheets. Saved a lot of keyboard related deaths that technique has.

If anyone cares (which they probably don't but I'll imagine they do anyway...hehe): first completed novel was Matthew Good Band - Beautiful Midnight for half of it, then switched to Muse - Absolution. Current WiP is My Chemical Romance - Black Parade, which it is scientifically proven impossible to write badly to. I Edit to Dire Straits - On every street or Eagles - Hell Freezes over

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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by lexcade » January 5th, 2010, 4:56 am

i actually make soundtracks depending on the mood of the story i'm working on. since i almost always listen to the radio when i drive (which i do A LOT), i sometimes hear a particular song that evokes a scene or fits the overall tone, and i add that to the list. that's how i came up with a soundtrack that included mudvayne, disturbed, sick puppies, fuel, and...coldplay.

then, when i'm feeling uninspired or stuck, i listen to a few songs to get back into the groove.

but most of the time, i can write no matter what's going on. i've written during class, my boyfriend's madden hour, work... as long as there's background noise, i'm good to go.
"Art imitates nature as well as it can, as a pupil follows his master; thus it is sort of a grandchild of God." ~~Dante

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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by taylormillgirl » January 5th, 2010, 9:10 am

I'm just like you. I listen to music during the brainstorming and outling process, but I need silence to write.
Author of hot & humorous romances, debut novel coming in 2012 from Sourcebooks!

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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by Jaime » January 5th, 2010, 10:23 am

Quiet, please!

I need to be in the zone. But if I fall out of the zone, my Waiting for April soundtrack helps me get back into the zone. Having said that, though, sometimes my soundtrack motivates me to pick up my XBox mic and switch from iTunes to iPod so my music can be even LOUDER while I dance around the . . . *clears throat* . . . never mind.

Quiet is better :)

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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by LaTerry » January 5th, 2010, 10:28 am

Music helps my consentration when writing, but only soft and or orchestral music. I can write without music, but it needs to be dead silent.
Do you wish for a dose of awesome? Or perhaps just to read what I write?

Or neither, thats okay too.

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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by Crystal » January 5th, 2010, 1:06 pm

For me it doesn't matter either way. I can work with or without the tunes. I will generally put K love on my computer and turn it down really soft then just go to writing away. I cannot however have the TV on in any fashion. I am an addict...I admit it I love to watch TV, so it is always a big distraction to me.
Working my very first attempt at a mystery novel. 1st draft

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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by shadow » January 5th, 2010, 6:24 pm

MUSIC! Yet it depends on my mood.
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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by Nick » January 5th, 2010, 11:13 pm

Not real silence, no. But no music or talking or anything of the sort while I am actually writing. Only the natural sounds of life and the gentle clacking of the keys. Often times if my mind is stuck, I will get up and go play one of my many instruments for a while though. Bagpipes and trombone are especially helpful for letting the creative juices flow, I find. Violin and ocarina for more...intellectual processes. Both can be quite handy when it comes to writing mysteries. It's simply a matter of knowing which you need.

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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by Holly » January 6th, 2010, 11:50 am

I like the sounds of nature (frogs and bugs in the bayou, or crickets, or spring peepers, or ocean waves), or classical music, all of it turned down low.

However, I can write anywhere. That includes medical waiting rooms with a gameshow on TV, restaurants with people jabbering at the next table, etc., as long as they're not talking to me.

The best place when I'm stuck: the local college library. It's dead quiet and I can't get on the internet.

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Re: Music or quiet when you write?

Post by kelly.morgan » January 6th, 2010, 12:56 pm

Prefer quiet. I use music to drown out noise if I'm writing when the house is active. I try not to listen to vocals though or I start singing along and it makes for some interesting writing when I head back in to revise. Finding that noise canceling headphones are a wonderful invention and they give the appearance of listening to something if the family is stalking you.

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