Writing Wednesday: Playlist


Like many writers, I listen to music while I write.  Also, I have noise-blocking headphones, which are especially useful if there are a bunch of little people around shrieking (i.e. the kids, whenever they are awake). 

It took some experimentation to find the right music; some songs distracted, or interfered with flow.

I really like Pandora because you can choose the song or artists you like, and it gives you a bunch of songs similar to the one you chose. Also, I need all the help I can get; most of my music is just whatever is on the radio these days.

I started out with a song with these qualities:

pop rock qualities
a subtle use of vocal harmony
acoustic rhythm piano
intricate melodic phrasing
mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation
thru composed melodic style
major key tonality
prominent organ
acoustic rhythm guitars
romantic lyrics

I ended up with the following playlist. Each song helped open up my writing, like it was the soundtrack to my character.

I should also mention I wrote QUEEN OF SHOW in first person, because the character’s voice was so strong; next time I use varying viewpoints I’ll see if they require different music. (I did use music to write HOUSEWIFE, but I never wrote down what I listened to, and it’s so long ago that I forgot. I think it was a lot of U2.)

And I also found that if I had to think about something technical during revisions, such as why a scene wasn’t working and how to make it work, I had to turn off the music altogether. I guess I get distracted that way.

Sweet Pea by Amos Lee

New Soul by Yael Naim

When I Look to the Sky by Train

Story of a Girl by Nine Days

Fireflies by Owl City

Hang on, Little Tomato by Pink Martini

Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley

Hey Soul Sister

The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

2 thoughts on “Writing Wednesday: Playlist

  1. I love Jeff Buckley’s “Halleluja.” I can listen to it countless times. It’s actually tough for me to write with music. I get distracted easily and find myself having to turn it down. You have a good point that perhaps it’s the type of music depending on the writing. Maybe I’ll try different types and see how that works.

  2. I know what you mean. If I’m trying to write something that’s not flowing, or worse, doing math and having trouble, I have to listen to something that has no lyrics and that I’m already very familiar with, so the parts of my mind I need for the task at hand aren’t busy following notes, melodies, turns of phrase.

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