Monday 14 January 2013

Writing Chat: The Sound of Silence

Before I go into my writing chat for the day, if you are interested please go to my post and sign up to 'Celebrate the Small Things' on Friday. With new added badge. Cheers me dears.

I am envious of people who speak with excitement about their writing playlists. What fun it must be making them up, and putting them on to get you 'in the zone'.

See, I cannot listen to music while writing. Am I the only one?

When I focus on something, I REALLY FOCUS. If I am writing, Ryan Gosling (or say Jensen Ackles, or Jack off Revenge) could do the naked highland fling in front of me, and I would not notice. Half an hour later I'd be all 'Huh? Ryan, did you want something?'

If I put music on, I either:

a) won't hear it. This may be the point, you may say. You don't listen to it, but it helps get you in the zone. It's there, informing the words. The atmosphere. Perhaps, but it's more likely it's just annoying my neighbours, or that
b) I will listen to the music instead. The music becomes my sole focus, and I am not writing any more.

Therefore I tend to write in silence. Maybe the TV on SUPER QUIET, also not being paid attention to (Ryan, Jensen and Jack (Nick? I think the actor's called Nick) can watch it, while I'm ignoring them).

This doesn't mean music doesn't inspire me. Of course it does. I listen to a song and it sparks off an idea. Lyrics especially inspire me. I love songs which tell a story (Stereophonics 'Local Boy in the Photograph' gets me every time) or songs which inspire a mood (Florence and the Machine do this I find). I watch or read Twilight and I COMPLETELY SEE the influence of Muse. I can see that she listened to them.

Music inspires me, but I don't listen to it while I write. Maybe I could playlist for inspiration while out and about, but in the meantime the sound of silence accompanies me.

Am I the only one? How does music inform your writing?


  1. I don't really have a set way of doing things when it comes to music. Sometimes I can listen to it, sometimes it really distracts me. But I do listen to it a lot to get me in the mood for writing. :D

  2. I always listen to music while I write. My house is a busy place and it helps to block out the everyday distractions with something that's in the mood/tone of my particular story. That said, I usually compile my playlist piecemeal while the idea is percolating. It helps me solidify the plot when I argue with myself over why a song is or is not applicable to the story/plot/character. Then, when I sit to write, it gets me right back into the mood of the story it matches, which is especially helpful when working on more than one story.

    Also, now picturing the naked highland fling. ;)

  3. I need music while I'm writing. It shuts down the side of my brain that keeps telling me there is laundry, cooking, cleaning, to be done and lets me write. However, it has to be the same playlist or I will start to sing along and get nothing done.

  4. Sorry, I write better if the music is loud and rocking. Puts me in the mood and I can ignore the lyrics. But if you can't, then that is all right as well.

  5. So when I do a workout there is this whiny part of my mind that just can't stop whinging. I play hockey, so an hour and a half of hard physical exertion is by no means out of my grasp, but the thought of facing down 25 minutes on a treadmill is a chasm of willpower I just don't have... but, if I listen to music, that whiny, whinging, annoying little voice just shuts up. Okay, sometimes it sings along. My point is that voice destroys everything, and I need it to shut the heck up. And that's what I do for writing too. I listen to music and the inner editor is singing along instead of dragging me down.

  6. 99% of the time, I prefer silence. Every now and then, if I need a little kick in the pants to get in the mood, I do have a classical playlist on hand (because I can't write one set of words while listening to different words!).

  7. I write best in silence, no outside distractions, except maybe a bit of natural birdsong through the window! I'm with you here, no music for me.

  8. I can't listen to anything with lyrics when I'm writing because I feel like I'm just listening to someone else's story. I love bands like 2Cellos, Piano Guys and Vitamin Strings Quartet--I get music and a tabula rosa :)

  9. no music! i need to focus too.
    but when i did a who would be in your book movie blogfest, we chose theme music. and i have had several songs inspire stories. but cant have it on while i write...

  10. I'm one of those who write better with music. It would drive me nuts to have silence.

  11. I need silence as well, but I will listen to a song or two when I need a break.

  12. I need to write in some sort of background noise. So either in a busy restaurant or with music playing.

    If a person is talking close to me, I can't write.

    I actually create playlists as a sort of character portrait instead of looking for pictures. To me, the character's feel is more important than how he/she looks.

  13. I know it's not necessarily true of every musician, but this musician cannot listen to music while doing anything that requires deep concentration (e.g., reading or writing). If music's on, it grabs my attention--I'm listening for interesting chord changes, bass lines, melodies, counter-melodies, etc. And if there's a lyric, even worse because I have words to listen to as well! But I don't like silence, so I use white noise to fill the quiet, but not provide a distraction.

    I wrote a blog article about this in December 2011. I won't post a link--that would be rude (this is your blog, after all). But this is an interesting topic, and I'm also fascinated by the different responses. :)

  14. I tend to listen to classical music - nothing with words - and I listen with headphones so it is all I can hear. It really gets me in the atmosphere and kind of almost feels like the background track if my story was a movie - I can see it playing in my head and then I just look for the words to describe what I am imagining.

    Also trying listening to a similar mood song (this one can have words) while you read back what you wrote. I did this once with a sad song and while reading a sad scene I had just done and I almost brought myself to tears....don't know if it was the song or the music but it really grabbed me. If only I could force my readers to listen to a certain song when reading my stuff!

  15. I almost always have music going; it definitely helps set the tone. However, if I'm really caught up in the story, the music gets tuned out.

  16. Kyra - very interesting that it can go either way for you!

    Delia - firstly, my pleasure for the highland fling image and second, interesting. I get blocking out sounds of a busy house! It's funny how people's creative process (esp. in regard to music) can be so different!

    Jenn - hee that's my trouble, I sing along and don't write!

    Alex - that's fair enough. I think I'm in the silent majority, so to speak! :)

    Rena - music DEFINITELY works for me when working out, I agree completely helps me focus. It's funny it doesn't work for me writing though but interesting it does for you!

    Thea - that's EXACTLY it - you put it really well, I can't have one set of words on and listen to another!

    Suzanne - hurrah glad you agree ;)

    Randi - yes, it's the lyrics which distract isn't it. maybe I should try one of your pieces of music and see how that works ;)

    Tara - yay glad you agree CP :) Agreed music can help inspire pre writing tho!

    Nicole - interesting :)

    Lara - glad you're another one who likes silence!

    Misha - VERY interesting that character portraits are music. Very interesting! I might give that a go in my planning stage, thanks SO for your comment.

    Colin - I would love to see the link to your blog piece please, if you see this please hook me up. I'm fascinated by it and I'm with you, totally, I'm waiting til the middle 8 and thinking 'ooh guitar'll come in now' and hearing the key change!

    Jessica - classical music has come up a couple of times, really interesting! Esp for the atmosphere. I might def. try having a similar song on!

    Charity - interesting that it helps you set the tone!

    Thanks so everyone for commenting, I'm finding this so interesting.

  17. I totally feel your pain when it comes to the playlists and not making them! Sometimes I can play music (in fact I use it a lot to get into the writing zone) but when I'm really writing I don't hear what's around me. I feel like I miss out on so much! The playlists! The journey!

    Generally I pick one song and put it on repeat so at least I get music even if it's not for long.


  18. I can't listen to anything when I write - I find it very distracting! Ironically, when I'm zoning out and brainstorming (driving is the perfect opportunity for this) I MUST have some kind of music playing. Weird, huh?

  19. Mia - exactly, that's how I feel, like I am missing out somehow! Thanks for commenting!

    Kimberly - hee, brainstorming you need it , but writing you don't? I get that, I think. Brainstorming can be about loosening the mind up and allowing different thoughts and is a different kind of focus...

    Interesting! Thanks for commenting!

  20. I need absolute silence to write inside. Outside kids playing, the wind blowing or dogs barking don't bother me.

    I get the urge to write a YA when I listen to music, but as soon as I get back to work the ideas have slipped away.

  21. Music most definitely inspires my writing. It's great for setting an emotional tone.

  22. Optimistic - yes I can see that music would set the emotional tone

    Sharon - glad I am not the only one who needs silence!

    Thank you both for commenting


Please comment, I'd love to know what you think! :)