Sunday, March 10, 2013

23 Question of the Week for 3/10/13: Do You Listen to Music While You Write?


Hey everyone! It’s Clara Kensie again, with a new Question of the Week! Pretty much the only thing writers love as much as writing is talking about writing. So each week here at Adventures in YA Publishing, I post a question for you to answer. The questions cover all topics important to writers: craft, career, writers’ life, reading and books. Together we’ll become better writers by sharing tips and discussing our habits and practices.

Question of the Week for March 10, 2013
Do you listen to music while you write?


My answer: I can write in silence, but I almost always have my earbuds in while I write. I use music to block out the world around me so I can focus on my manuscript. However, I am a singer, and if I know the lyrics, I will sing along. Therefore while I’m writing, I must listen to music without lyrics, or lyrics I don’t know. I often listen to the Sigur Ros station on my tablet's Pandora app. Sigur Ros is an ambient post-rock band from Reykjavik, Iceland. I love their music but I don’t understand the lyrics, so it’s perfect writing music for me. I also listen to the symphonic and classical music Pandora stations, as well as the Doctor Who station (I know, how awesome is that?), which plays movie and television scores. Scores are lyric-less, and they often have a sweeping, epic feel to them—perfect for writing romantic scenes—or they have a pulsing, urgent tone, perfect for writing action scenes.

I like the idea of making a playlist for each manuscript—a set of songs that match the tone of your story to put you in the right frame of mind to write it—but I’m reluctant to make one myself. Why? Because it would take me days, probably weeks, to select the perfect songs. And that’s time I’d rather spend writing!

YOUR TURN: Do you listen to music while you write? What do you listen to? Do you make playlists, and if so, how do you chose your songs? Or, do you prefer to write in silence?

23 comments:

  1. I absolutely have to have music on while I write, but I don't have playlists for specific manuscripts. I mostly listen to movie soundtracks. I also use Pandora if I get bored of the soundtracks I have already.

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  2. I can go either way. I don't have specific playlists, but I'll use pandora or just the history on my youtube to listen to songs. And you're right! It's so much harder to focus on writing when your music had lyrics, so I sometimes just forego music. I don't listen to movie soundtracks often enough for it to clutter up my youtube history. =D

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  3. I used to need music playing in the background. Now I find it distracting. I'm not sure what happened to switch it for me.

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  4. I can write either way, but I love listening to soundtrack songs for certain scenes. It motivates me, it moves me, and it gets me through the scene. I love it. Thank goodness for music.

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    1. Yes! Soundtracks are GREAT for so many different reasons. Not only are people like Hans Zimmer amazingly talented, but listening to the music from movies I love automatically brings up the emotion of the actors and the screenplay. Complete win/win!

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  5. I used to be able to write with the TV on or with music playing, but lately I can't have any words intruding. I will put on instrumental only mood music sometimes. It can help me draw more emotion out of a hard scene or help me get into the mood of a scene if I'm not in *that* mood when I sit down at the keyboard. I love Spotify for finding music. There are tons of writers there who post lists, and it saves me a lot of work :).

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  6. Interesting how many of us use movie soundtracks to put us in the mood to write our scenes. I have the Hans Zimmer station saved on my Pandora too.

    Am I the last one on the planet who hasn't used Spotify yet? I'll have to give it a try.

    Oh! This discussion reminded me that I have an app called Songza, which has pre-made playlists based on activities, mood, genres, with lyrics, without lyrics, etc. I'm at a writeathon at this very moment, so I'm going to find a Songza playlist for writing right now!

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  7. I love music while writing, but for me, lyrics can get in the way. Spotify is perfect for me. I use lists filled with music w/ lyrics to get me in the mood before writing, and then while writing, I switch over to songs that still convey the right tone, but dont have too many noticeable lyrics (or I'll go for ones in Icelandic :) -- love Sigur Ros)

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    1. Hooray! Another Sigur Ros fan! I heard about them from one of my writing friends. Now a big group of us listen to them while we write. I wonder if they know how many writers love them?

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  9. I owe my last novel to Radiohead. About four years ago, I randomly picked up Radiohead's "In Rainbows" CD (yes, an actual CD) and put it on that afternoon to write. Something about the music was very conducive to the pacing I was trying to create, so I played it the next day, and the next. Within a week, I realized I wasn't even paying attention to the music anymore (and after over a thousand listenings, I can’t tell you more than a couple lyrics). Whenever I put it on that album, my mind is back in the story by the middle of the first song. The music is a mood-setter that helps me stay consistent in tone, as well as a trigger to start writing. As long as I have "In Rainbows" I can write anywhere and anytime. I’m starting my next novel and have been using a different album from a very different artist with similar great results.

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    1. Jim! I love what you said about how that specific CD acts as a trigger to instantly get your mind back in the story. That's exactly why I think playlists can be so useful. I just added Radiohead to my Pandora, but I might pick up the In Rainbows CD and see if it works as well for me as it does for you. Thanks!

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  10. I cannot listen to music while I write. Nor can I listen to music while I run. Both are very demanding tasks, so I need zero distractions.

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    1. Linda, I know what you mean. When I have my house to myself--kids are at school, hubby's at work--I usually write in silence. If my family is home or if I'm writing in a coffee shop or library, I need music keep me from being distracted.

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  11. I love music and there are times when I have to listen to it while I'm writing--music only, no words, unless they're elvish or another language I don't understand. ;-) I have several stations on Pandora I listen to. I also have a Sandisk MP3 player with music I like, and an iPod with nothing but Murray Gold's DOCTOR WHO music on it. Yes I'm that much of a geek. As far as movie scores are concerned, my favorites are from the three Lord of the Rings movies by Howard Shore (that's where the elvish songs I talked about earlier are from). I'm also partial to the music from Two Steps from Hell, a music production company that does music for movie trailers and videos. Most people will recognize their song, HEART OF COURAGE, from the London 2012 Olympic games (more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_Steps_from_Hell)

    Having said all that, I have to admit I'm at a place right now where silence must reign so I can get the words right--their rhythm and sound--because I want the reader to FEEL them, much like one does a good piece of music. Hey, I guess that makes me a composer, too. Well, on to housework so I can justify my time composing, er, writing.

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  12. I don't know why the link I posted isn't working. Just search TWO STEPS FROM HELL in any search engine if you'd like to know more. They're very good.

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    1. Thanks, Suzanne. I added the Two Steps from Hell station to my Pandora. And hooray for Doctor Who!

      I love what you said about writing in silence because you want the reader to FEEL the rhythm and sounds of your words. That's beautiful! I know exactly what you mean.

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  13. I can do both, though sometimes silence is more distracting. I come from a big family so I'm used to TVs running, music playing and people talking around me. I have short playlists but I tend to zone them out when I hit a good stride. My favorite place to do work is the university library reference/ group study room. Its huge with floor to ceiling windows. Just the right amount of white noise--and 8ft long tables to spread my work across.

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    1. Sounds like the ideal writing place, Krystal. Big windows, long table, write noise. I'm sure many of us would love to have a place like that for writing!

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  14. I can't write in silence. I need background noise. I often make playlists for my novels as if they were movies and listen to that soundtrack while I'm writing that book.

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    1. I love Taylor Swift, the Civil Wars, and The Hunger Games Soundtrack: Songs From District 12 and Beyond best. "Safe and Sound" is my all-time favorite song. Very haunting.

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    2. Wow. Great recommendations! I love Taylor Swift. I can't help but sing along,though, so I can't use her music for writing. I'll give the Civil Wars a try, as well as the HG soundtrack. I really want to hear that Safe and Sound song! Even if I can't use it for writing, I'm sure I'll love it.

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    3. Thanks! :D I'm really looking forward to July, because I got tickets to go to one of her concerts for Christmas! I'm jealous of you, because you get to listen to the song for the first time and I can't do that again. ;)

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