Music,  Writing

Behind the Scenes: Music and My Writing Process

In one of my writing groups over on Facebook, there was a discussion not too long ago about music and writing. I was seriously surprised that so many of the writers (many self-published professionals) don’t listen to music while they work…I have a hard time not listening to music during certain parts of my process. And that got me thinking – what is my actual writing process and how does music play a part in that?

Ideas and Brainstorming

When I’m first thinking up an idea, brainstorming all the What If’s for a character or plot idea, or just general daydreaming I sometimes need music and sometimes not. This morning I was working on a character arc for my current project and I could hear my husband’s radio in the other room (quietly) but I had no music on in the bedroom where I was, but the other day when I was just sitting and staring and thinking, I had music on. This stage of my process can really go either way and depends on my mood that day.

First Draft

I need music. Non-negotiable, no two ways about it – can’t write the first draft in quiet. For first drafts, I need music – all kinds of music, totally different kinds of music. Pop, 1990s Alternative, Broadway soundtracks, 80s new wave, 70s disco, you name it, I have probably listened to it. I don’t have certain playlists for different novels or projects, I choose a style based on how I’m feeling that day, or maybe how the scene needs to play out. Louder metal-type music for the big scenes, love songs for the romantic scenes, etc. I definitely need music though when I’m putting words to paper.


I need quiet – like seriously, could hear a pin drop, quiet. I need to concentrate, hear my own thoughts, and really narrow in on the problems in front of me. This is usually the stage I need to close the door to the bedroom too, so I don’t hear the TV or radio in another room or get distracted by others in the apartment. Quiet and my brain, that’s it.

Planning or Marketing

Probably music. For example, I’m currently doing some marketing and planning for the launch of my novel (hopefully this fall/winter) and I’m writing the stuff that goes in the front and back of the book (dedication, acknowledgements, copyright, etc) and working on my blurb – the cool story description that accompanies my book to entice people to read it (because it’s awesome!) and I definitely need music for these tasks. But if I’m researching something about marketing and reading articles, I might need quiet.

Most of these only work with longer projects. When I’m writing these posts, for example, I usually listen to music or have the TV on with no issues. When I need to concentrate on one part or brainstorm something I might mute the TV or dim the music, but overall I need background noise.

So, tell me…do you use music when you write or work on projects? What do you listen to? Do you have playlists or just use Amazon Music or another streaming service like I do? And if you’re a singer like me, does having music on help or hinder you? Sometimes I find myself singing along and getting caught up in the song instead of writing, but sometimes I hear the perfect lyric and it fuels my next scene and gives me that little extra push….it all depends.


  • Bradley Ploscowe

    I must have music playing when I'm working. It helps me focus and to enjoy my day. All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy. Although I do have to be careful. Some songs on my playlist include blue language. I have to lower the volume when anything from The Lonely Island comes on. Don't want my boss to pop in while I'm on a Boat is playing. Ha!