Aug 3, 2011

Musical Inspiration

Anyone who knows me knows my love of music. Any time a new movie comes out that I like, I buy the film score as soon as possible. I think my music collection currently clocks in at over 25 weeks' of playing time.

Music is such an integral part of cultures across the world. We use it to celebrate and to grieve. It allows us to mark happy times, cope with sad ones, and hope for better ones. From tribal dances, to nightclub anthems, to driving rock ballads and sweeping orchestras, music fills every part of human life.

Many writers, myself included, have playlists of music to listen to while writing. I find it helps draw me into the world and characters I'm building. I can feel the story become more real. With the right music playing, I can feel such exhilleration and enthusiasm that I feel like if I don't write I'll need to start running and jumping just to release the energy. It doesn't matter if the music is orchestral or has lyrics; if it fits with the story and the scene I'm writing, it's like it turns the dial up to eleven on me.

Even when not writing, I find that just listening to music can help provide me with the inspiration I need to plan out my story, pinpointing the significant emotional points, both for the characters and for the reader.

To the writers out there, what role does music play in your work?

To everyone else, how else does music add to your day to day life? Or to your own work, whatever that may be?


  1. I think you have a lot in common with many writers, Paul, in that many of them seem to listen to music while writing. I actually can't. People look at me strangely when I say that. "But you're a musician as well?" they say. This is true, but if I listen to music - specifically music with lyrics - I can't concentrate on the words. The rest of the time - when I'm not working - though, music is a huge source of inspiration.

  2. When I was a child, my parents fought a lot. Music shielded me from their shouting. It soothes my soul. I've always sung just for myself - now I sing in a trio at retirement communities and nursing homes. I don't listen while writing, though. I seem to need the silence.

  3. Derek: I can understand that. If you have two major creative outlets, you need to keep them separate in your head or lose focus.

    Karen: That is interesting. Music was something of a shield for me too, growing up, though in different ways.

  4. In our house, it was all about Broadway musicals. I love them and I have a lot of the soundtrack CDs. But I can't write to music, I need quiet. It has to be all about the images in my head becoming words. This probably makes me even odder: I actually write with my eyes closed a lot, because I am seeing the scene.