Music of Writing

So many writers talk about the inspirational tones that help them get out the stories they need to create. I love music. I live it, breathe it. I wouldn’t be here today without it. I spent a great deal of my life immersed in singing, playing, writing music. But I never write to it. Not because it doesn’t inspire amazing scenes, or give me what I need to somehow translate my thoughts into works that read well. It’s quite the opposite for me.

As I jot out new ideas, music rings in my ears. There is always some kind of symphony, melody, or beat flowing through me, but when I write I need that subconscious music to keep me alert. I’ve tried playing music while writing before, all it does is distract me because sometimes I just need to be in my own head.


We spend so much of our time listening to other people’s music, dialogue from movies and TV, hell as we drive we read billboards and ads that are now plastered on vehicles. It makes it difficult to wrestle with your own thoughts at times. I used to play music with this old guitarist who said it’s best to isolate yourself from every form of media in order to write what is truly “you”.

Maybe this is why writers’ retreats are so popular. I never run out of ideas, and tuning everything out has never been a problem for me, so the idea of shutting myself away from everything seems a bit extreme.

I generally use music as my reward. It takes a lot of discipline to be an author. Anyone can write, being a writer is easy, but working hard enough to keep your material relevant and unique enough that it continues to get published is a real battle. It’s  a constant pressure struggle.

Good writing reads like an opera. You have the subtle moments that are more meaningful once the reader has reached the end, and you have to have those loud, climactic moments where your ears slightly ache from the crescendo, but it a welcome pain. I’m not the kind of writer who buys into all that “writing is pain” bullshit. I mean that absorbing the information can be hard sometimes. You have to give it time to reflect on the meaning afterwards. In all honesty I’m more of a “writing is everything” kind of girl.


Okay maybe not like that haha.

I write when I’m happy, sad, angry, lost, everything comes out and it gives me a broad range of topics that allow my stories diversity and originality. The songs that play in my head while I write influence that. A slight echo of a favorite song haunts me until the story comes out. Once I have it down on paper, that’s when I get out my guitar and play the hell out of it, or just sing and dance along to a recording like a buffoon.

Some stories choose theme songs. A certain song will continuously play over and over in my head as I write. The one I recently finished was very much like that. It is arguably my best work and has taken me a year and a half to write (it’s a short story mind you). I couldn’t play a recording of the song while I wrote, too obvious, too much, but the song’s shadow stuck close by me as I finally finished this work.

So to celebrate, I need to learn it on guitar and have a night of musical freedom.

4 thoughts on “Music of Writing

  1. Sean P Carlin says:

    I was listening to a lot of John Carpenter soundtracks last year as I was writing the rough draft of my zombies-in-prison novel, Escape from Rikers Island. As fate would have it, Carpenter released his first album of original material during that time, which I added to my EFRI playlist, and the lead-off instrumental on Lost Themes, “Vortex,” became the book’s unofficial theme song. Music is a very important part of my writing process.

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