Saturday, June 26, 2010

Are you in the mood?

Sometimes, listening to music while I write does nothing but distract me. But other times, it is the perfect device for getting in me the mood--for, quite literally, getting me "into the swing of things."

In "real life," I listen to a rather limited scope of music, primarily a single genre: the elusively but attractively titled "metal" and its many sub-derivations. I normally listen to a single genre of music not because I dislike other styles, but because metal is the genre that has provided me with the most, and the most consistent, musical excitement throughout my daily life. But although my hard-drive music library alone can be put together into a great soundtrack for certain styles of writing, many of my favorite artists are simply distracting or inappropriate when it comes to getting me in the right mood for a given work in progress.

So lately, I've discovered Internet radio and the fantastic possibilities it offers for a writer like me. Working on a "high fantasy" short story last weekend, I was thoroughly inspired by the epic compositions being played on Radio Rivendell; and, this week, I've been listening nearly nonstop to Boot Liquor on SomaFM, appropriately subtitled "Americana Roots music for Cowhands, Cowpokes and Cowtippers." The only country music I'd listened to previously was the radio-played, love-cheesy stuff my mom and sister adore. Boot Liquor, on the other hand, provides me with the rough-edged tones and beer-soaked blues I need for my present spacewestern tale of heartbreak and man-killin'.

Music isn't always the answer to a stumped writer; sometimes complete silence is better. But when you need some good tunes, there's nothing like Internet radio to help you find the right mood you need to get you into your story.



  1. The Radio Rivendell looks pretty interesting--thanks for the link.
    I've generally found music good while brainstorming and maybe proofreading, but for the most part I need complete silence when I'm straight up writing or revising. I usually get too distracted otherwise.

  2. I can't write without music. I have a playlist specifically for writing on my iTunes, consisting of stuff like U2, Muse, Coldplay, Rage Against the Machine, Joy Division, Styx, Rush, Radiohead and various other science fiction-esque bands.

    Lately I've been expanding my horizons a bit; bought a reggae CD, and I'm loving it so far. I'm a huge blues fan, too, but it doesn't really go well with writing.

  3. Hi Ben, and thanks for stopping by my blog! I hope this one helps you towards your goals. Are you a Critter as well?

    I typically write in silence, although I've discovered that classical music is helpful in eradicating an earworm that is distracting me. I probably ought to listen to more music while writing, but quite honestly I don't usually think to get up and turn on a radio. Perhaps I ought to try internet radio. We'll see.

    I used to listen to soundtracks from musicals (showtunes just doesn't seem to be the right label for more modern musicals) at high decibel levels while doing calculus homework in high school, but I can't listen to anything with lyrics while I'm trying to write, since the words distract me from my own. Sometimes even classical can be distracting, when the station plays something I learned on the violin years ago, and I start remembering the fingerings and such. Or perhaps I'm just too distractible. Or a bit crazy. :)

    Best of luck with your writing, and you're always welcome over at Science Fiction Mommy.