Killer Year–The Class of 2007

Personal Soundtrack
August 20, 2007, 8:16 am
Filed under: Brett Battles, Killer Year Founders, Killer Year Members

I’m curious…when you write, do you listen to music?

I do. I’ve got my iPod with me wherever I go. I’ve customized several different play lists depending on what I need to write. I have the Emotion play list with songs that can make me feel sad or passionate or hopeful (Nick Drake, Five for Fighting, U2, Macy Gray to name a few). I have one entitled Action which has a lot more fast paced stuff (Green Day, Lenny Kravitz, Evanescence and even some Boston, Cheap Trick, David Bowie and Stones) that’s great when I’m writing any action scene.

When I’m writing a first draft, or creating a new scene, songs with lyrics don’t bother me at all. But when I’m doing rewrites, I’m more likely to listen to instrumental pieces. Soundtracks mainly. Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack to The Mission is a favorite. As is James Horner’s music for Glory, Patrick Doyle’s for Henry V, and Tan Dun’s for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

I love the mood music can put me in. I love the way it can drown out the noises of a busy Starbucks. I love how sometimes it makes me feel like I’m watching a movie instead of writing a book. Music intensifies everything for me. It’s an essential implement in my writing toolbox.

What about you? Do you listen? Do you need quiet? Do you change your music depending on what you are writing?

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10 Comments so far
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When I write I listen to my husband’s music across the hallway. That’s about the right distance. He plays opera mostly, but always classical.

Comment by patti abbott

I used to listen to music a lot more than I do now, at least intentionally. Since I write in a coffee shop, there is always the background music and the sound of conversation around me, but rarely is it music I would choose myself.

When I do listen to music, I have playlists on my iPod that vary by style and I will listen to something according to the mood I want to set. But usually, it’s just coffee shop backdrop.

Comment by Bill Cameron

I usually just hit Shuffle on the iPod. Half the time I stick one earphone in and have the TV tuned to ESPNews so I’m really multitasking.

Comment by E Scott Johnson

I can’t listen to music when I write–it distracts me, especially lyrics. Guess I have a hard time ignoring words.

I like a dull background roar, something I can tune in and out of. A coffee shop is perfect. I tried to write in the library once, but it was so quiet the sound of my keyboard made me want to scream.

Comment by Tasha Alexander

Not only do I listen to music but I have even made customized “soundtracks” to fit pieces I am working on. I arrange songs that are particular to that work to accompany my writing time and help keep me in that time and place.

I’ve even written a couple of short stories because of a certain piece of music.

Comment by Kathleen Valentine

Music, yes.
Lyrics, no.

I’m with you on the soundtracks, Brett.
Recently purchased “Four Decades of John Williams”

Comment by Darwyn Jones

I rarely listen to music when I write, but when I do, absolutely no lyrics… in a language I know, anyhow. English and Spanish would be too distracting, even German has too many similar words, and tempts me to try to translate it (so no Rammstein while I write). When I was revising Pyres, I listened to Sigur Ros obsessively. They’re a haunting progressive-rock Iclandic band who sing in either Icelandic or a gibberish they invented called Hopelandish. I have no problem not paying attention to the words, and the mood is perfect. I tend to listen to music w/lyrics a lot more when I’m planning scenes, but not actually writing them. Nine Inch Nails was good for that last time–lots of anger. Interpol for the moody parts, or Bright Eyes.

Comment by Derek Nikitas

Interesting diversity here. Goes to show there’s no secret formula to how to write. Thank God.

Comment by Brett Battles

I’m a music-while-writing person… and second Derek’s recommendation of Sigur Ros. I’m fond of anything that kind of drones on, with occasional crescendos: Long-View, Editors, Angels & Airwaves, Bloc Party, Sea Ray, Explosions In The Sky, Gersey. These are all good ones for drowning out other noises and sparking the synapses.

Comment by gregory huffstutter

Classical, classical, classical. Rachmaninoff makes an excellent writing companion!

Comment by killeryear

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