How to craft a writing playlist

For the people who are able to focus in utter silence, I applaud you. I admire you. I envy you and your concentration skills.

I am not one of those people. re-brain

For me, background noise is essential to creativity. Otherwise, the right side of my brain
will attempt to write, while the left side goes off on a tangent. It reminds me of all the more practical things impacting my life. The weather, to do lists, fashion choices… It matters not. But unless distracted, the left side will undoubtedly distract the right.

This is where music comes into play.

Music does the distracting for me, allowing the focus to remain on the task at hand. But if you are writing a romantic scene, you don’t want Eminem playing in the background. Or if you are trying to describe a fight, Celine Dion isn’t exactly welcome.

Music typically does one or two things: it invokes emotion or spurs action. It can make you feel like crying or inspire you to get up and dance. And the type of writing you are attempting can be directly impacted by the type of music.

Hence, the importance of a very specific writing playlist.

For instance, State of Grace deals with strands of legal thrill, past pain and love, so I want to make sure the background music plays to the same themes: drama, tension and romance

Take a look at a few items on my State of Grace playlist:

  • Bathroom Sink – Miranda Lambert
  • The entire Pride and Prejudice soundtrack
  • Parachute – Chris Stapleton
  • Come Home – OneRepublic & Sara Bareilles
  • Don’t Let Me Be Lonely – The Band Perry
  • Poison & Wine – The Civil Wars
  • Pretty much anything Ed Sheeran
  • Heart on Fire – Lennon and Maisy
  • Heartbreak Warfare – John Mayer
  • Somewhere Only We Know – Keane
  • At World’s End (from Pirates of the Caribbean)
  • All Too Well – Taylor Swift
  • Already Home – A Great Big World
  • A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
  • Lost Stars – Adam Levine
  • The Funeral  -Band of Horses
  • Guinevere – Eli Young Band (if there was ever a song written for Dani, this is it.)
  • Breathe Again – Sara Bareilles
  • Without a Word – Birdy
  • Losing Your Memory – Ryan Star (or really any song used in The Vampire Diaries)
  • Hunger – Ross Copperman (see above & try not to cry)
  • Holding on and Letting Go – Ross Copperman
  • Let It Go – James Bay
  • Speak To Me – Clare Bowen
  • I Get to Love You – Ruelle
  • Wonderwall – Ryan Adams
  • Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley (although Pentatonix’s version? Holy smokes.)

And many more… Eclectic, right?

So there you have it. Identify the writing you are planning to do that day (or week, or month) and pull a few songs that inspire those emotions & actions. Create one, two, or ten playlists depending on the project and you’ll be good to go! No pesky left brain to distract.

(Now editing is a totally different beast… classical music all the way.)

What music do you like to listen to while writing? Let me know in the comments below!


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