Writing Music, or, Music to Write By

I don’t often listen to music while I write. I find it distracting. It isn’t that I don’t like music, indeed, I love music and have rather eclectic tastes. I enjoy most genres. My music of choice while writing though, is silence.

Silence has its own sound. The sound of the story taking shape in my mind. When I write and enter “the zone,” I lean over my keyboard, my brow knit together, concentrating, my eyes focused on the words. Focus: I have shut the world out and entered the scene. It’s an incredible feeling, similar to the runner’s high.

When the runner’s high hits (it doesn’t hit often enough), the miles fly by, my lungs are clean and fresh, my feet don’t touch the ground, time loses meaning, and the feeling of floating through the air is real. My mind reels with joy. I have shed tears during those moments.

Writer’s high is similar, but there are two types of writer’s high. The first is the feeling you experience while writing and you find yourself in the zone. The world around you fades away and you enter the scene. You smell the location, hear the sounds, feel the buzz of the living. The sentences fly by and time loses all meaning. You’re pounding the keys as you try to keep up with the words flying through your mind. You can’t type fast enough.

The second type of writer’s high is the feeling you experience when someone likes your story, or your latest blog post. It’s the feeling you experience when your novel is accepted by an agent or your submission is accepted by a periodical.

I have yet to experience the writer’s high of an agent accepting my novel (if there’s a corresponding writer’s low – rejection – ugh…I’ve experienced that one). The other though, I have experienced many times. While it doesn’t give me the rush of the runner’s high, it has brought tears to my eyes and a feeling of achievement, pride in my writing ability, and joy to my heart.

I was in the zone while writing this. I didn’t notice the absence of music or other sound in the background. My mind has been filled with the words you are now reading and my fingers pounding the keys to write down. I have been wondering how you will receive this post and whether you will agree or disagree with my thoughts. Writer’s high is wonderful.

Back to writing music (I love digressions!) There are, however, occasions when I listen to background music while writing. I have a playlist titled Writing Music that contains music that puts me in a reflective mood, the mood I find myself in when writing sad, wistful, or reflective passages. I’m naturally optimistic and cheerful (I have been called Smiley most of my life 🙂 so writing happy passages doesn’t present a problem. Writing reflective passages isn’t much of a problem either, but I will use music to prolong the mood in order to stay in the zone. It works to great effect for me.

On those other occasions that I have music playing in the background, I am usually not working on my novel, writing poetry, or focused on a particular writing session. Call it free writing. Writing for writing’s sake. Keeping the pen fresh, the mind oiled, and the keyboard warm. Classic music, soft jazz, and lounge music are my favorites. Strauss’s waltzes are a particular favorite for the rhythm they impart.

What works for you? Does music help you concentrate, or does silence soothe your writer’s soul? Leave me a comment. Sing to me.

7 thoughts on “Writing Music, or, Music to Write By

  1. freedom writer

    I very rarely write on music. I prefer writing in silence, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. But there are moments when I feel inspired by a song so then I play on repeat while working at one of my poems. I believe music can be a very useful tool and an amazing way to release emotions through words. And in fact, my first poem was written while listening to a song.

    Thank you for the post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Will Pennington

      Ohh, I do the same thing! I played Cream’s Whiter Shade of Pale, sung by Annie Lennox, for hours while I wrote When You Turned and Looked My Way, one of my few attempts at writing lyrics. I’m teaching myself to play the recorder so I can put music to my own lyrics. (I haven’t played an instrument since junior high school – my lips hurt!)

      Like

      1. freedom writer

        I love that song! I’ll make sure to check When You Turned and Looked My Way. I’d be great to put your lyrics to music.

        Funny thing is I write (mostly poems) and I love to sing (opera and musicals) but I can’t get myself to mix the two and write lyrics.

        Liked by 1 person

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