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Day 221: 7 Ways Music Can Help Your Writing

Day 221:  7 Ways Music Can Help Your Writing

Special Announcement:  For those of you in the Boston area, or attending the AWP Conference next week, come to the (free) Burlesque Press AWP Kick-Off Reading on Wednesday, March 6th at 8pm at Crossroads Pub (495 Beacon Street, near the conference hotel).  I will be reading, along with some other excellent Burlesque Press contributors.


1. Music can set the mood. Trying to write about something beautifully mysterious? Listen to the French group Air, or your own favorite ethereal electronica. Trying to write about something terrifying or angry? Listen to some death metal.  Once you’re in the right mood, you’ll be ready to write that moody scene.

2. Lyrics can be the jumping off point for a story. I was always intrigued by the line in Nirvana’s “On a Plain” that says “my mother died every night,” so I wrote a story about a girl whose mother who fakes her own death in a variety of ways. Listen to a song and think about what stories might be hidden in the lyrics. Then write those stories.

3. Music can trigger memories. When I hear the Color Me Badd song “I Swear,” I’m flooded with images and feelings from an awkward eighth grade pool party. Many great stories, both fiction and non, begin with a memory, and music is notorious for helping us remember, whether we want to or not.

4. Music can help you get in touch with your unconscious. Here’s an example:  All week I’ve been brainstorming about how to end a story I’m writing, but I haven’t been able to think of anything. Then yesterday I was driving, spacing out and listening to Ke$ha on the radio when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the perfect way to end the story popped into my brain. I wasn’t thinking consciously about my story (or anything, really, which is usually what happens when you listen to Ke$ha).  Since I wasn’t thinking consciously, my more creative, unconscious brain took over the brainstorming and came up with something good.

5. Listening to music is intellectually stimulating. There are a lot of studies concluding that listening (and playing) music is good for your brain. The stronger your brain, the better your writing (and writing stamina) will be.

6. Music gets you moving, and moving makes you creative. It’s no secret that you have more energy on the treadmill when you’re listening to your jams, but there’s also a lot of evidence that we are more creative when we are in motion. Not only does exercise increases blood circulation, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to your brain, but simply being in motion can activate creative hotspots in the brain. I know I’ve come up with a lot of story ideas while at the gym. And I was almost always listening to music at the time.

7. Listening to music can reduce stress and increase positive feelings. Writing is dang hard. It comes with a lot of rejection and self-doubt. So listen to your favorite music to ease your stress and boost your self-esteem.  Then get back in front of the laptop for another go.

I'm obviously listening to some good tunes in this picture.

I’m obviously listening to some good tunes in this picture.


About evalangston

Eva Langston is a writer, among other things.

One response »

  1. I write music and lyrics, so music definitely improves my writing. 🙂 I agree with all of the above!


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