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April #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop: Music Playlists to Inspire Your Writing

Music has greatly enhanced my writing over the years. Whether a moving instrumental score or moody lyrics to a breathtaking melody, music can stir emotions that inspire not only my prose, but often, entire storylines and help me get unstuck. Since I've been curating my favorite writing music for awhile now, I thought it might be fun to share some for this month's Author Toolbox Blog Hop topic.

I know what a lot of people are saying. There's no way I can write in anything but a vacuum of complete silence. And I hear you. It's rare that I'm able to actually draft alongside music. But while everyone is different in terms of their ideal writing environment, I find that music is something that can be fit into one's writing routine in creative ways.

Ways to integrate music into your routine (outside of your writing space):

  • Listen in the car. Driving has been a fantastic way for me to connect with music and identify the emotions I want to convey in my writing, even if I can't jot my notes down immediately. Sometimes it's nice to just soak in the moment and let your creative energy flow.
  • Listen before bed. Sometimes I find that when I listen to music before bed, I am able to wake up not only refreshed, but bursting with inspiration to write first thing in the morning.
  • Take a walk and pop in some headphones ahead of a writing session. Nature is another huge source of inspiration for my writing, so together these two make a strong power couple. If I plan ahead, a short walk with some music can get me in the head space to create.  

Below you'll find my favorite writing songs divided into two categories.

Moody Music to Inspire Your Writing

For me personally, writing music needs to be soft and slow. The moodier the better. The best topics fall somewhere between heartbreak and self-discovery. The artist should practically feel pain singing the lyrics. In truth, my family members often joke that my favorite music should be part of an album titled Killing Me Slowly. But it's the moodiest songs that inspire my best ideas, so for that reason I can't apologize for making every one of them fall asleep in the car as I DJ our family road trip.

You'll also notice several French songs included in this list. If you're one of the many writers who struggle to write with music, you may consider giving songs in other languages a try. This is something I stumbled across by happy accident and discovered that they work almost the same as songs without lyrics at all. Because the lyrics are outside of your primary language, your attention isn't automatically pulled away from your writing.

Instrumental Writing Music

Film scores are something that stir a deep love of storytelling in me. Most of the best scenes in film history are accompanied by a dramatic original score that enhances, perhaps sometimes even establishes, the mood of the scene. Without lyrics, you're free to interpret your own meaning from the melody. Here are some of my favorites from the last couple of decades. 

Those are my favorite writing songs! I am so curious to find out what music everyone else likes to write to or inspires you to write. Do you prefer slow or uptempo writing music? Please let me know some of your favorite songs that inspire your writing in the comments! 

This post is part of the April 2020 Author Toolbox Blog Hop, hosted by Raimey Gallant. Be sure to check out the rest of the awesome bloggers here!

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  1. I haven’t put a playlist together yet, but there are definitely times when there are particular songs I NEED to listen to. What those songs are depend on what I’m writing. Great post!

  2. Now I want to dig into some Carla Bruni and Sara Bareilles! I don't typically write with music, but I definitely have music for some of my processes like the long job of formatting at the end (long for me because of how I prefer to write, totally worth it), and just to unwind and shut off my mind. I listen to all sorts, but I'm not great at keeping up with what's new. Some stuff you might like and maybe already do like based on the songs you showed: Feist's Tout Doucement, Sara Bareilles' Vegas, Metric's Soft Rock Star, Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine...

  3. I wish I could! I love music and miss it like a front tooth (hmm... someone used that analogy before I did).

  4. If I'm not writing and listening to music, my imagination soars. So it works for brainstorming. I'm not so good when I'm writing though. Can't say why.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  5. I'm definitely a vacuum of silence writer (I wear a pair of lawnmower earmuffs while I write) but I still love to listen to music just to get in the writing mood. Sleeping at Last is one of my favorite bands for pre-writing, and for instrumental only, I love Ludovico Einaudi. Great post!

  6. I have a playlist for each novel that I've written (Thank you, Spotify!), though some songs bleed over onto other lists. Like you, I find them helpful for plot, character, etc. I've read that video game scores can help keep you alert when writing, but I haven't tested it out.

  7. I do love exploring new music.
    Specific songs are hard to pick, cause I have so many, but I can cite a few bands that I frequently listen to for inspiration.
    Two Steps from Hell, Thomas Bergersen, Audiomachine, Ivan Torrent, Really Slow Motion, Pacific Wind (very mellow), J Blankenburg, Epic soul, Epic north, Brunuhville, Demented Sound Mafi, Nervous Test Pilot, and Future World Music.

    My style tends to be gather up a large quantity of songs (currently a couple thousand on my tablet) and let the whole thing shuffle, though sometimes I make temporary playlists for the moment.
    I also dig around a lot in tv show and anime soundtracks (usually I find 2-3 songs among several OST albums, but the variety serves me well).

    Thanks for sharing.


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