Guest Post: Writing with a Soundtrack by Amanda Richter

Today, I’m excited to bring you a guest post about how music can help your writing by the fabulous Amanda J. Richter. Personally, I fall into the write in absolute (sometimes creepy) silence category, so I am pumped to soak up some of Amanda’s wisdom and see if any of her tips work for me. Enjoy and leave your comments/questions for her below!


When I was in high school my mom always scolded me for listening to music while I studied. She was convinced that if I wasn’t sitting in absolute silence I could not be concentrating.  As I moved from high school to university I found I could use music strategically. When studying for exams I picked songs that were catchy and easy to remember and listened to them on a loop. Each class had its own song. In the exam I hummed as I wrote.  Like magic, it helped me remember what I had studied.

It wasn’t magic though. As much as I would like to take credit, it’s not a new concept.

Stores use music to keep you shopping longer. Movies and television use music to set mood and tone. Try imagining a movie with no soundtrack—it would be weird. Commercials use jingles and song snippets to play on your memory and keep their product firmly ear-wormed in your brain.  So it makes sense that writing with a soundtrack taps into how the world uses music around us.

Writing with a Soundtrack to Anchor

I use music the same way advertisers do.  I pick one artist (or album) per writing project and listen on repeat until they become synonymous with each other.  By building an association between the music and the story I am classically conditioning myself (see Pavlov).  This helps get me into a creative mind-frame and dive into my characters, settings, and plots faster.  As an added benefit I find having music on lessens other distractions; such as my need to check Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  Associating music with writing keeps my mind on task longer.

Writing with a Soundtrack to Set the Mood

Much like in movies and television, writing with music can help you establish the mood of your scene or project. During NaNoWriMo 2014 I wrote a post-apocalyptic dystopia; I used a dark album, full of angst and lyrics surrounding drug addiction. This helped set the tone of the novel and kept my mind functioning in a space similar to what my characters were enduring.

When I am writing my fantasy pieces I listen to Celtic music or music from my favourite video game soundtrack.  For my romantic piece I listen to modern pop music.  By using different soundtracks for each genre/piece I can keep the mood/tone of the story in mind. It also helps me switch gears when I am working on multiple projects.

Writing with a Soundtrack for Inspiration and Against Writer’s Block

In my NaNoWriMo 2014 novel drug addiction was a side-note, just another tack for my characters to sit on. As I listened to the album I chose I realized that drug addiction was not something that should be a side-note. It is what my characters are fighting against as they come to terms with the loss of the world as they knew it.  The music inspired me to take my characters in a different direction to the benefit of my story.

If you are a believer in writer’s block listening to music can help break through that frustration. It can help reboot your brain. When I run out of steam I often sit, close my eyes, and listen. After a few minutes my mind will wander and the ideas will flow again.  Changing the music you are listening to can help you refocus. If you were listening to something dark and dreary then throw on something up beat and lively.  Dance breaks are always encouraged.

Writing without Music

Not everyone can work with music. Many people find it distracting and end up singing along with the music instead of writing. That’s ok! Even as a person who needs music ninety percent of the time to be productive, there are always times I work better without music.  If you find even the traffic, birds, or constant crying of your children distracting try ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones.

If you want to use music while you write, but feel that lyrics distract you, try classical or instrumental music to start. I often listen to instrumental movie soundtracks (Lord of the Rings; Avatar). Find what works for you and helps you be productive. Experiment!  Try different kinds of music—even if you don’t end up using it while you write you might find something new to enjoy!


For more from Amanda, check out her author website, http://www.amanda-richter.com, or her WordPress writing blog, Reading Over People’s Shoulders.

 

Advertisements

Kate M. Colby is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. When she is not writing or working, Kate enjoys playing video games, antiquing, and wine tasting. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Guest Posts, Writing & Publishing Articles
16 comments on “Guest Post: Writing with a Soundtrack by Amanda Richter
  1. Reblogged this on Reading Over People's Shoulders… and commented:
    Today I bring you my guest post on Kate M. Colby’s site. Do you listen to music while you write or are creative?

    Like

  2. coffeennotes says:

    Silence is my music, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. coffeennotes says:

    Only silence for me 🙂

    Like

  4. I can do it either way but I have found that I am much more productive when I have my ear buds plugged in. It does help me concentrate and makes the time and words fly.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Emily says:

    I actually create individual playlists for my writing projects, but I only listen to them when I’m getting ready to write or while I’m driving, not when I’m actually writing. I sometimes listen to instrumental soundtracks, but if I listen to anything with lyrics I end up typing the lyrics instead of writing! 😛

    Liked by 2 people

  6. […] mentioned before that I do listen to music while I write fiction (although Amanda gave some great tips on that!). However, I hope that has not given you all the impression that I don’t like music. In fact, […]

    Like

Share Your Thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Fiction Fans: Join My Reader List

Two emails a month with...
1) Sneak peeks of new books
2) Behind-the-scenes content
3) First notice on special deals

button

Get your FREE booklet
100 Blogging Ideas for Fiction Writers

SIGN UP for my Writing Newsletter today!

Buy Signed Books
Click the Books tab on the menu
What I’m Reading
Tweet Me
My Instagram Feed
In honor of World Poetry Day, here's one of my favorite poems, written back in 2012.
%d bloggers like this: