However, during the time that I’m writing a particular novel or piece, I’m usually listening to some type of music that will help get me into the general mood of the character. For example, while I was writing The Face in the Mirror, I spent quite a lot of time listening to opera, Broadway musicals, and classical music. Maggie Arnet loves her concertos after all! I spent hours pouring over the great arias and listening to various movements of different sonatas.
By contrast, when I was working on Beneath the Mulberry Tree, I needed to connect with a completely different era and mindset. There’s nothing like some great old jazz and swing to do that. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and, of course, my personal favorite, Ella Fitzgerald, were regulars on my playlist. These songs helped to put me in a frame of mind when romance was thought of in a completely different way. In many ways, romance was far simpler and more straightforward. Through the lyrics, I was reminded that love is not the convoluted experience we know today.
Now, I’m working on a different novel. The main character has an down-to-earth, country feel. He enjoys the simpler things in life and has a solid foundation in old fashioned values. So, what’s on the playlist? Country music from the 80s and early 90s. Before the cross-over pop culture infiltrated the airwaves. Artists that I miss hearing on a daily basis: The Judds, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Trisha Yearwood, George Straight, Vern Gosdin, and many, many others.
Many writers find that listening to music during the writing process is relaxing. Frankly, I don’t. To me it’s very distracting as I’ll get caught up in the lyrics of the song. Like the constant distractions of the internet and Facebook, too much music will draw me away from the ideas I’m formulating and the images I’m trying to convey. I’ll become wrapped up in another artists’ work.
If I do listen to much while writing, it’s usually a very meditative, new age type instrumental piece set to a low volume. My kids will sometimes joke with me that I keep my music so low that no one can actually hear it. For me, that’s the point. I want something calming but not distracting to the writing process.
Of course, when I do turn up the volume to try and immerse myself in my character’s mindset, my kids will groan and mumble at the music selected. Not always, but fairly often. I guess going between several hundred years of musical trends is not common. Thankfully though, my eclectic musical choices have rubbed off on them even if they won’t readily admit it.
In the end, if you’re a writer, the type of music you listen to during your writing process is as individual as the story you are telling. There is no right or wrong answer. What matters most is that the music doesn’t in any way hinder your process. If you detest Country, I certainly wouldn’t suggest listening to it while you write. Likewise for any other type of genre. Find the type of music that helps elevate your own unique voice, not the one that drowns it out. Then, the music you listen to will become an asset rather than a hindrance.
Happy Writing and Have a Great Weekend!