September 20, 2010

Music While Writing by Kimberley Payne

A question that was asked on The Word Guild discussion forum was, “What music do you listen to while on your computer? While writing?”

The responses were as varied as each writer and the different types of writing available.

Denise Rumble shares, “I find that sometimes I need it very quiet to concentrate, other times I want the music loud, or soft. It depends on the type of writing, where I am in the process, and my mood. Of course, listening to music greatly affects my mood which can certainly be a boon to my writing, as well.”

Like Denise, Pam Mytroen picks her music according to the project she’s currently on. “Forget listening to anything with vocals and lyrics however. I completely miss them when I'm writing fiction. But non-fiction is another story.”

Lynda Schultz also has tastes similar to Denise. “Sometimes the words to a song throw off my concentration, so I need instrumental music to which I do NOT know the words (otherwise I start to sing and that throws me off). Sometimes, I need the words to raise my spirits so that I can write. Fast or slow again depends on what I'm writing. It's very dependent on the task I think—‘heavy’ writing requires less intrusive music. At times, quiet is the only thing that works too.”

On the other extreme, Robert White likes his music loud. “Christian rock, heavy metal, classic rock, prog rock, you name it I'll listen to it while I'm writing. In fact, I find myself distracted by quiet music while writing.”

Lisa Wilson agrees with Robert, “I'm with you! It depends on what I'm writing as to what I listen to, my tastes are pretty eclectic. I'll listen to Country, Big Band, Jazz, Pop, heavy metal, classic Rock even neo-classical (instrumental soundtracks). But usually it's something fast, upbeat.”

However, Heidi McLaughlin writes in quite the opposite environment ... “‘Not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.’ That is how I like it when I am writing - not a sound, absolute silence. It's the only way I can ‘hear’ the words in my head.”

Jenny Burr agrees. “I'm with Heidi, no creatures stirring, no noise in the making, not even background instrumental. Silence is my best background noise.”

Tammy Wiens needs noise around her. She recently went to a retreat at a monastery where the authors in attendance were asked to respect the silent times from 9-5. “I almost went crazy!!! I did get a lot of writing done but didn't enjoy it. I like noise around me--children, music, radio, television -- sometimes everything at once. It doesn't matter the style of music or nature of the television program -- I like noise.”

Personally, I like to listen to instrumental music and pretend like I’m playing the piano as I’m typing on my keyboard.

How about you?



  1. I'm with Heidi; I like it quiet. I especially can't focus on my writing when music with lyrics is playing. Something inside me wants to, no needs to listen to the lyrics.

    But when I do non-writing stuff at my computer, like read blogs, or update my Quicken, I love to have music which makes especially the latter not feel like such a chore.

  2. Absolute hush, hush for me when I am writing. I also cannot write if there is someone else in the room, or if I am near a window. I am far too nosey and am afraid of missing something. Music entrances me and I get lost in either the lyrics or the rhythm. It's funny how this works. My daughter is the polar opposite. I homeschooled her and it took me a long time to realize how she functioned. Forcing her to work in silence was pure torture (for her!) Finally I realized our differences. Good thoughts, Kimberly. x


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