Friday, November 25, 2011

Music and Writing

I don’t know how common this is with writers, but sometimes when I write I get really obsessed with music. Really obsessed. When I wrote the first draft of the final battle sequence in The Gates of Nottingham, I listened to Lux Aterna, from the soundtrack of Requiem for a Dream on repeat for hours until I was finished. I listened to The Pet Shop Boys for two weeks while I wrote a hundred page section of So Many Secrets. I’m not even going to tell you about how my ears bled from listening to Shout, by Tears for Fear. Most of the time, the music I get obsessed with and that I later associate with certain parts of my books has absolutely nothing to do with the story or the characters. It is a completely random association.
Right now I am binging on three of Adele’s songs (she’s amazing, by the way; believe the hype), along with Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, and the Mamas and the Papas.  I suppose that the base of it is the mood that the music creates. When I wrote the Northman screenplay, I listened to Sweet Dream by Beyonce. Normally, there is no way I will listen to hip hop, but it was the perfect mix of romantic lyrics and a choppy, almost violent beat.
Am I the only one who does this? Do any of you get completely obsessed with strange songs like this? Seriously, I need to know if I’m a freak.  


  1. Not with one particular song, mostly because I get so fixated on lyrics when I'm listening that I forget to write ... but I do have certain types of music I like to listen to while writing. My Patty Griffith station on Pandora is getting worn out from all the use it's been getting lately!

    (Oh, and I agree about Adele - I refused to listen to her for a while, because I didn't want to buy into the hype, and then I heard one song, and now I'm hooked. Ah well!)

  2. I found you from Paul Shortt's blog. He uses music to write to sometimes, I know. My husband paints to music, and the type will definitely affect the outcome! To write, I need quiet I'm afraid. But sometimes I will wake up with a song running through my head - not even one I've heard lately. I always think it's a sign that the words in it have meaning I'm supposed to heed.

  3. @Melissa Ann Goodwin

    Thanks for heading my way, Melissa. How funny that you wake up with music in your head. The human brain is a mysterious thing.

  4. Melissa's right, I always listen to music when I write. I have a specific playlist of tracks, usually film scores and particular songs that I feel fit the book or scene I'm working on, which I play on a random loop. Even when I'm not writing, if there's music playing I'll be thinking about how it could fit into a scene.

  5. I love love love Adele. And yes I get obsessed with strange songs (not adele of course) too!


  6. I tend to repeat listen to certain things when I write. Maybe not songs but CDs that I'll play over and over again. On the last novel that I was writing before I set it aside and listen to the 9 symphonies of Anton Bruckner repeatedly for a month. It really set a dark mood for the story and it was great.

    Tossing It Out