We all know music influences your mood. It can even be a shortcut to the mood you want, so I have a playlist for just about every state of mind I could need to access on any given day. Energizing playlists for cleaning and working out; road trip playlists carefully curated to keep me peppy but not too hyped on long drives; a Calm Down playlist for when my anxiety spikes (also essential for road trips); a slightly different mellow playlist to help me sleep when I’m restless; and, since it’s that time of year, a winter/Christmas playlist to keep me feeling festive while shopping online for gifts.
Movie scores are designed to tell a story, so it’s easy to find a track that fits the scene you’re working on or the mood you’re trying to convey, while video game scores are designed to keep you moving forward to complete your task without drawing too much attention to the music, so it will get you on track and keep you there. If you’re like me and get antsy after too many instrumental tracks, look for music in any language you aren’t fluent in (my go-to artists for this are Julie Fowlis and Manu Chao). But songs you can understand are supposed to be too much of a distraction. How do you make words if there are already words in your ears?
When it comes to picking writing music with words, go with whatever fits your project’s mood or your protagonist’s voice. You’ll know the right songs when you hear them. Then it’s just a matter of playing this collection every time you sit down to write. Eventually it’s like flipping a switch in your brain—turn on the playlist and you’re instantly transported into the work, no need to “settle in” for half an hour to get in the mood to work. Yeah, you’re actively trying to Pavlov yourself. Humans are very trainable. It’s worked really well for me so far.
I can’t tell you what songs will best fit your novel, but if you’re looking for a words-free soundtrack for your writing, here’s my latest writing playlist.
What’s your favorite music to write to? Have a playlist to share? Comment!