What Kind of Music Pumps Up Your Writing?

headshotJacqueline Vick spent her childhood plotting ways to murder her Barbie doll. Mystery writing proved a more productive outlet. She is the author of over twenty novels and short stories including the Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic mystery series.



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I have a confession to make. I work, think and play best to…silence.

I know, I know. I’ve tried. I had Foster make a compilation of super sappy music for those moments when the protagonist was going through an emotional moment. You know. Those heart-wrenching songs that you listened to in high school after breaking up with your boyfriend that made you feel as if someone understood your pain. (Not realizing that this was mere child’s play compared to the traumas that came with adult life.)

It helped set the mood a little, but I found that I was turning on Brian Eno’s ambient music instead.  Something soothing, but not enough to put one to sleep.

Brian Eno’s “The Ship”

Or chants.

Meditative Gregorian Chants – Male Chants

Female Chants – The Benedictines of Mary “Advent at Ephesus”

The problem with meditative music is that it goes best with meditating, not the frenetic thinking that goes with working out a new plot.

When I listen to music, which is not often, the songs make me think about when I first heard that song, or what a good guitar rift that was. I’ll pretty much listen to anything except pop music and anything with a thumping beat that makes my ears ring. Electronic dance music? Not a chance.

What about you?  Is there music that brings out your writing productivity?




14 thoughts on “What Kind of Music Pumps Up Your Writing?”

  1. Hmmm, thinking…usually silence, but if I want music, Credence Clearwater, Joe Cocker, Al Green, Gordon Lightfoot, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Annie Lennox, Neil Diamond…their songs are currently on my computer “playlist” for when I’m in the mood. Of course I’m tone-death–but sometimes the beat and emotionalism can spur me on. Am also fond of Gregorian chant. Thought provoking post–thinking about why silence sometimes, and music other time.


    1. Those would be on my list if I was going to listen to music. Neil Diamond was my first concert ever as a teen. While others were listening to Michael Jackson, I was listening to Peter, Paul and Mary; John Denver; Simon and Garfunkel; and other music from that era.


  2. I prefer the sound of silence myself when writing. That doesn’t mean that I won’t watch Disturbed do The Sound of Silence on YouTube every now and then just because I think it’s spectacular, but quiet works best for me in the long run. Though I will add one thing. Turning on the electronic waterfall is magic. I need to buy a new one because the old one isn’t working, but that sound works wonders for my creativity. Fun post, Jack. Now let me see if I can find one of those waterfall gadgets on line…


  3. I prefer quiet when I write, but I can understand the need for an environment that stimulates creativity. For me it’s spacial; I do my best writing when I have an expansive view so I can gaze off into the distance when I’m stuck. But your idea of using music to set a mood intrigues me, so I’ll give it a try and report back.


    1. Buster whines. He wants to play. He wants to go outside. He wants to eat. He wants ALL of my attention. A bit distracting. If I played either of those artists, I’m afraid I would type the lyrics because I’d be singing along. (It’s a requirement with both Bon Jovi and Abba.)


  4. I usually have on a classic rock station, which does help, no matter what I am writing, (children, adult or non-fiction). Sometimes I’ll put on a favorite CD, (even Irish music), but the music has to be upbeat, even if what I am writing isn’t.


    1. That’s really interesting – that upbeat music doesn’t affect you when writing a scene that’s not. It would drive me batty. (Although with Irish music, I could choose a soulful ballad.) Funny enough, I don’t think it would bother me while writing non-fiction, though I haven’t tried that yet. Next time I write an article, I’ll give it a go.


  5. I mostly go for silence too, although sometimes instrumental music helps mute the voice of THE CRITIC. A fellow writer turned me on to Zoe Keating’s cello music and I’m also fond of anything by Dvorak. I have iTunes on my computer so it’s simple to set up a soothing, non-distracting playlist for writing. When I remember to use it, that is. Nice, thought-provoking post, Jackie.


  6. Yes – silence is best for me when I am deep in the thick of it. But when I’m trying to find the right way through, I (like Linda) have Abba for one mood – or those beautiful Enrico Morricone film themes….or Matt Monro. I am such a sap for the days of great lyrics and great melodies….


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