I’m not one of those writers who wants music on or a lot of background noise while I’m writing. In fact, I prefer writing early in the morning before anybody else is up, precisely because of the quiet. Nevertheless, there are some songs that I like to listen to before I start writing, to get me in the mood for punching out my word count for the day. Click below to see five of my favorites.
5. The Beauty of Uncertainty, K.T. Tunstall (2007)
The lyrics of The Beauty of Uncertainty work on so many levels for me. Which direction should I go in my plot, to best test my characters? What does my audience really want to read about? Should I even bother writing books, not knowing if I’ll ever have any success? But in the end, it’s not knowing any of that, that makes it worthwhile to pursue: Night is an adder/ HIdden in the grass/ She bites like her life depends on it/ and waits to see how long you last.
Although great for any book, this song was a direct inspiration for my novel Jesus Bugs, and you could even use it as a soundtrack for that book’s climactic scene.
4. Candy Everybody Wants, 10,000 Maniacs (1993)
This is a good one for keeping your writing entertaining. You might want to put in long descriptions of natural scenery and philosophical musings on the legacy of Kierkegaard into your book, but what’s not what people want to read. If lust and hate is the candy/ If blood and love taste so sweet/ then we, we give ’em what they want. If you have a lesson for your audience, wrap it up in something shiny and fun. Much like the song itself does, hiding its commentary on modern media inside its catchy, infectious melody and bright horn stabs.
3. Keep Mediocrity at Bay, Van Morrison (2005)
I find this song is particularly suited for getting in the mood for editing (and to get in the mood for editing, I need all the help I can get!). Its chug-a-lug rhythm is really good for just sitting in the chair and getting to it, and the message is perfect for replacing tired cliches with sparkling fresh metaphors and cleaning up those awkward sentences: Got to fight every day to keep mediocrity at bay.
2. High Hopes, Panic! at the Disco (2018)
High Hopes are what I have for my book sales and my writing career. This is such an upbeat song, and a really great message for anybody in a creative field: I didn’t know how but I always had a feeling/ I was gonna be that one in a million. I do think writers should change the line burn your biographies to write your biographies though.
1. Paperback Writer, The Beatles (1966)
Have to go with the classic for the number one spot! What I love about the lyrics is that it’s clear the writer’s book is meandering, over-written, and generally terrible (It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few). Still, the narrator has such a desire to succeed, and his ambition is so well reflected in that driving guitar riff, I can’t help but be inspired by his spirit. Yes, I too want to be a paperback writer.
What about you? How does music work into your writing routine? Do you have songs you find inspirational for your writing?