Do you listen to music when you’re writing?

I know a lot of writers make playlists. Playlists for helping them create atmosphere, evoke a time period, bring characters to life. And playlists for you to enjoy while reading their books.

But I find listening to music while I’m writing is just too distracting. Songs are stories, after all. Why would I want someone else’s stories in my head when I’m trying to write my own? What a way to lose focus.

Plus, I love to sing and can’t stop myself from singing along and then I get all emotional and start to obsess about whatever the lyrics remind me of. Good songs evoke strong feelings, and even the happy ones make me cry over something, someplace or someone. And it’s so hard to see the page or computer screen while I’m weeping.

As for instrumental background music, that’s even worse. It makes me feel like I’m at brunch in a fancy hotel, which makes me hungry. Or like I’m stuck in an elevator, which makes me claustrophobic. Or worst of all, like I’m on hold with Bell or Canada Post to complain about their shoddy service. Not good creative places for me!

Thing is, every writer’s creative place is different. Some work best in public spaces, like libraries or cafés, while listening to their favourite music.

I prefer silence and solitude.

So, no playlists to write to here.

But because I can’t imagine my world without music, I have made a playlist for surviving and enhancing the writer’s life. Singing along is highly recommended.

Paperback Writer” – The Beatles

A good vocal warmup. Instead of “paperback”, feel free to sing “children’s”, “fantasy”, “romance”, “mystery” or whatever kind of writer you want to be.

Satisfaction” – The Rolling Stones

Exactly the right attitude when your brilliant ms has been rejected by every agent and editor in the universe. Warning: screaming this song can cause serious damage to your vocal chords.

Let the Mystery Be” – Iris Dement

Help with the big questions writers ponder. Proof that the best ending is always on a high note. Sing word for word. 

Three Little Birds” – Bob Marley

When your computer crashes, you lose all your work and you’re on deadline, what else can you do but chirp along?

Money, Money, Money” – ABBA

Sing “two-book deal” for “wealthy man” and do the happy writing queen dance!

Foux du Fafa– Flight of the Conchords

As a writer, you sometimes have to pretend to know more than you actually do. So fake it till you make it, but sing it in French.

You Raise Me Up” – Josh Groban

Dedicate this to your talented and inspiring but underpaid editor. Sing with awe and gratitude. Don’t forget to bow.

The Gambler” – Kenny Rogers

Sing “writer” for “gambler” and “book” for “hand”. Best sung with writer friends, this one says it all.

 Happy writing life!