The Power of Music [on the writing process] by Grace

It’s safe to say all of us listen to music, whether it’s a classical piano piece, an electrifying guitar riff, the smooth rhythm of soul’s voice, the electronic beat, or the pulsing bass. Music has its own story to tell, whether lyrics are used or not, and hundreds of different phrases and interpretations touch the hearts of listeners often. This month is all about song-inspired writing, and how it can influence and inspire a scene in a novel, a short story or a poem. A good number of writers turn to music during their writing, and there are plenty of reasons why that method turns out to be successful.

Keep in mind, no writer is alike, so if you find this method to be ineffective in the different areas mentioned subsequently, that’s okay! Many writers find music in the background as white noise or a distraction, but there are many others who find music to be a key factor. I have found a few sites that discuss music and the writing process, so please feel free to check them out below for more elaboration!

Music can affect and enhance mood. Mood is one of the essential factors in your writing, whether it be a scene in your novel, prose, or a poem. Depending on what mood you wish to create, search for music that can enhance it. For example, if you are writing a Gothic novel, and you’re constructing a somewhat creepy scene, or maybe you’re describing a menacing setting, look to music that evokes such feelings, and that can help you better fabricate it. Creepy piano music or a heart racing violin note can be useful in that case!

Time period is another factor to keep in mind when writing: what music reflects the time your story is set in? Will that help you better construct the setting? According to Nona King, “For my new release… I utilized my playlist of classical music to submerse myself in music of the period (the novel is set in the mid 1890s).” Music can also affect mood: often times when I’m writing and I feel like listening to music (I don’t always like to), I’ll have Pandora on or another radio station, and by the end of my writing for the day, I’ll find my piece switches moods often, and it’s all over the place! That’s because my writing all of sudden began to mirror the moods exhibited in the music, which was sometimes a slow sad ballad or an intense fast orchestration. That being said, be careful what music you’re listening to when you write, because it definitely can affect your writing, sometimes in ways you did not want.

Depending on how you function as a writer, silence can be a hindrance to your writing process. Music can allow for focus when writing, but again, this varies with each writer. Silence isn’t the only thing music can drown out in order to promote focus: depending on the current state of where you’re writing, it can help you to hone in on your writing, whether you’re writing outside in a noisy environment, or in your house where it may be noisy as well. So if you’re one of those writers that can find themselves working easier with music in the background, don’t hesitate to use music as a tool for focus!

Furthermore, music can heavily be an inspiration. This can tie back to the idea that music can help to enhance or affect mood, because you’re using the feelings and emotions you interpret from the song to incorporate into your writing. Music can even help you start painting the canvas before you have anything figured out! There are times when a lyric in a song sticks out to me, or a solo in a musical piece catches my attention greatly. I wonder, “How would that work as a story?” We’re always trying, as writers, to find inspiration, whether if it’s for the concept of a novel, or a character trait, or just about anything we pen. Music can be useful in that sense, depending on how one interprets music and if they find that effective in their writing. What is important to remember: all music tells a story. Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimsky-Korsakov tells a story, Love Story by Taylor Swift tells a story, Best I Ever Had by Vertical Horizon tells a story—any song you can imagine tells some sort of story. How can you take that story and mold it into your own? If you’re stuck in writer’s block, look to music to pull you out.

These are just a few of the ways the power of music can benefit your writing and your writing process! I personally enjoy listening to different classical compositions while I write, for I’m not getting distracted by vocals and the type of pieces I select help me enhance the messages and moods I want to convey. Please check out these sites for more information in case you’re interested in further details on how music can affect the writing process.


Posted on January 20, 2016, in Editorial Board Essay. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This is so accurate! And the locution is perfect. Great job, Grace!

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