Do you listen to music while writing? I do. More or less without fail, in fact. Humans are sensory creatures, and music can help put you into the right frame of mind to write particular scenes. So let’s talk quickly about music choice while writing.
In general, I’ll normally have something easy to listen to (for me, your mileage may vary) such as late 90s trance. It’s a genre of music I have a particular fondness for, for personal reasons involving my own misspent youth, and therefore has a positive effect on me when I listen to it. That’s great when writing, because it puts me into an overall happy state where I’m likely to write more effectively.
But what if I’m writing something specific, something where I want to evoke a particular feeling or emotion in the reader? Ah, well then I’ll break out my playlists. Romantic scenes? That’ll be my romance playlist, including various tracks from the eras I like. Energetic trance for fight scenes or similar high-stakes events. For creepy or chilling I’ll use soundtracks from games such as Silent Hill (obligatory #FucKonami). Something epic and grand in scale? I might use this amazing piece from the final level of Serious Sam 3 (it’s actually 4 pieces stitched together, keep listening, it ramps up in epicness as it goes).
That’s the really basic stuff. So what about themes? For example, a book with a Western setting? When I get around to writing one of the major spin-off works for Aida – As the Sun Loves the Moon, a story set during Aida’s frontier period, but starring four of the girls from the main work, as though they’re filming a movie in-universe – I’ll be listening heavily to one particular band: Bon Jovi.
Why? Simple, because the setting supports their particular brand of music. The real frontier period of Aida is actually different to the version I’ll be portraying in this story, simply because the version I’m portraying is being given a Western feel for reasons that will be explained in Aida itself. You get a quick peek here because I’m nice like that:
It had been said by the mayor of Meadowstone, the first ever frontier town of Aida, that their fine settlement was a little like the old wild west, a largely lawless place filled with excitement and danger. While he was exaggerating to a degree, it was true that a lot of Aida’s laws and ordinances didn’t come into being until quite some years after Meadowstone itself was built.
Anise explained a little of this, then went on. “I kind of wanted to get some of that wild west feeling across in the movie, so I asked our artist to incorporate that theme into the designs of the buildings and costumes.”
With that in mind, songs such as Blood On Blood, Bells of Freedom, Bed of Roses, I’ll Be There For You, In These Arms, These Days, and especially (It’s Hard) Letting You Go will all provide me with an ample degree of both inspiration and appropriate mood for writing the content of this book. Bon Jovi is essentially my theme for this work, combined with the Western setting.
Creating your own little Zen Zone for writing is also a great idea. Noise-cancelling headphones are one of the best inventions ever for helping with this; not only do they cancel outside noise to a great degree, they provide channel all of that delicious music straight into your aural orifices with minimal leakage.
Nostalgia is also an incredibly powerful tool for your writing. Tapping into emotions and feelings and even scents from special events in your own life can put you into the perfect mood to write a similar scene… but that’s a topic for another time. All in all, I consider a good playlist to be one of the most essential tools in my writing toolbox, it’s a great way to give your work an extra edge.