I have a mug that says, “God gave us music so we might sing without words.” I’m not especially religious, but I do find music to be highly influential on my moods and inspirational for my writing. I like creating soundtracks for my stories, seeking out songs that fit or explain characters or spark scenes. Whenever I listen to music, if I hear a song that starts making me think of a scene or character, or just gives a certain mood to a story, I jot it down to add to that story’s playlist.
Some writers use music a lot for their writing. My friend Foxglove Zayuri is like that. She has massive playlists full of songs that inspire her characters and stories. Music is very important to her writing process. I’m not quite as intense; my playlists only have a dozen or so songs for each story. Some songs may really feel like they match a character perfectly, like “Under the Rose” by HiM matches Scion Argent from The Mariner Sequence. Others don’t seem to match up in as straightforward a fashion. For example, I recently heard the theme from the British TV show Wycliffe by Nigel Hess, and that immediately made me think about Astral Rain. I don’t really know why, but as soon as I heard it, images started pouring through my mind. It really doesn’t matter how many songs you use, as long as they aren’t forced and inspire you. After all, chances are no one except you will hear that soundtrack you compiled.
While I do gather songs that remind me of my stories and characters, I rarely write while listening to music. Unless it is instrumental or in a foreign language, I get distracted by the lyrics and tend to be pulled out of my writing mood. Foreign music doesn’t distract me as much, but sometimes I get caught up in the tempo of the music and stop writing to dance. Sometimes even classical or instrumental music can do that if the rhythm or mood of the music doesn’t match the scene I’m working on. If I’m writing a battle scene, I don’t want to listen to a soothing piano concerto and if I’m writing about a tender moment between characters, I don’t want to be listening to Darude’s techno dance mixes. There’s nothing wrong with the music; it just needs to match what I’m writing. Or I work in silence and then, if I get stuck or need a fresh burst of inspiration, I take a break and listen to some of my story-themed playlist music, and then get back to work.
How about the rest of you, my fellow writers? Do you listen to music while you work? Do you prefer your music to match your scenes, or does it not matter?