Books & Writing Pop Culture

Writing | Words & Music

I think it’s fair to say for me writing and music go hand in hand. Putting on your headphones and listening to music is the easiest way to lock yourself into the world that you’re writing about and also put your mindset in the right ‘mood’ for scenes.

I got inspired by this video by the lovely Linda on Youtube, that got me thinking about music and the writing process. In terms of what I listen to? I have a generic ‘writing playlist’ in my iTunes which I use for both when I’m writing blogs and writing fiction etc. The playlist is an amalgamation of the suggestions below – but here the more specific musicians, genres, tracks and themes I choose when I need to gear up to write specific scenes and stories.

The easiest playlists to compile are for big battles and fight scenes where you need your characters kicking some serious ass. I always go for something with charging guitars and drums as the rhythm helps with imagining the beats and more cinematic cut-aways for narration. Anything by 30 Seconds to Mars, Bastille, Muse and Florence + the Machine set the tone wonderfully – Knights of Cydonia (Muse), This Is War (30 Seconds to Mars), Pompeii (Bastille), and Drumming Song (Florence + the Machine) are particularly brilliant to amp you up.

If I’m working on YA or a more contemporary storylines I go acoustic and indie (also cause I’m a hipster-sh*t). Taylor Swift’s earlier albums are pretty much primed background music for stuff like this, as are Joe Brooks, Arcade Fire and Kate Voegele’s back catalogues. If we’re going for more modern indie, Alessia Cara and Alabama Shakes have been firm favourites recently. Speaking of Taylor Swift, the entirety of 1989 is fantastic for big ‘screw you’ scenes a la Emma Stone in Easy A. ‘Get Over You’ by Sara Barielles and ‘Comeback Queen’ by Lolo also do the trick – and are generally super empowering to listen to.

Badlands (Halsey) and The Small One (Sia) have proved great accompaniments to inner monologues, sadder moments and what I call ‘walk and think’ scenes (i.e. characters walking in the rain feeling nostalgic or particularly pensive *URGH ANGST*). Lyrically Sia and Halsey are fantastically inspiring songwriters too, so it fuels the fire to write better when I listen to them.

Anything by Panic! At the Disco makes for great background music for ‘sexy’ scenes and parties…and banquets…basically any kind of period era gathering with fancy frocks and general debauchery (Vices + Virtues is especially fantastic for those). The Weekend are good for modern day versions of these scenes.

And of course, actual soundtracks are ready made for writing epic sagas. My personal picks are usually Pan’s Labyrinth, anything by Studio Ghibli, or composed by Hans Zimmer. More recently I also highly recommend the new Force Awakens soundtrack – ‘The Jedi Steps’ is so fun to write to.

So fellow writers, what music do you listen to to get you in the mood to write? Pass me some suggestions in the comments below.