I love to listen to music while I’m writing, and while I would love to listen to songs with lyrics, I find that I just get way too distracted. The last thing my terrible writing needs is the addition of the words from “I’m Sexy and I Know It.”
Truth is, I love wailing to music way too much to focus on anything other than how well I can pretend I know the correct words. When it’s time to focus on my own words, I need something a little less brain-seizing. So I listen to orchestrated music.
That does not mean I listen to Wagner, pinky raised as I leaf through a thesaurus for the most complicated way to say “eyes” (Note: “hues” are not synonymous with “eyes.” Ever.)
But you have to admit, there is something magical about a wordless song. For one, I can listen to it and still stay focused on my story. That in itself is a miracle.
Here are 6 of My Top Songs to Write to (in no particular order):
Ideal for: A race against time/Desperation/Dicey situations
Why: Choppy and fast paced, it gets the heart pumping so fast your protagonist will scramble to reach their spouse before they unwrap that Christmas gift of C4 to the face.
Ideal for: Planning a heist or assassination/Rising tension/Jungle people
Why: The steady progression of this song provides rising tension, making it suitable for the beginning of your final act. There are also some tribal instrumentals in there that lend this to anything involving a legion of half naked men riding to take out an imperialist government, one blow dart at a time.
Ideal for: Betrayal/Tough political decisions/Strengthening your antagonist
Why: This song is just so dark and strong. It’s as if Alyssa Milano is my protagonist and she’s ballroom dancing with a villain who just whispered his infallible plot to blow up every dog shelter in America.
Ideal for: Impending war/Race against time/High tension
Why: I’m sorry, but when they shipped Squall off on his first mission as a mercenary, those fighter pilots flew overhead, and this song started in the background, you knew: SHIT JUST GOT REAL. If you need to raise the stakes on your protagonist, just put this song on and get typing.
Ideal for: Fight scenes/High tension/Strengthening your protagonist
Why: What is more bad ass than a three-cellist rock band? Nothing. Let their badassery transfer over to your story.
Ideal for: Marching armies/Perseverance/Character development
Why: Something about the rise of this song just makes it full of hope, but not without struggle. Perfect set-dressing for the training scene your deaf, blind, mute, zombie protagonist so desperately needs.
What songs do you write to?