I have been asked many times whether or not I listen to music while writing or reading. I honestly don’t know how anybody could read for long periods of time while listening to music, as it’s far too distracting, but when it comes to writing, it’s a different story. Perhaps it’s because I am so concentrated on writing, that my mind blocks out the lyrics while I try to express myself, often with my feet tapping (or sometimes dancing while sitting – a talent indeed), but it is rare I find myself writing in silence.
I have long been interested in the way music affects my writing. Although I believe we initially choose what music to listen to based on our moods, I also think that during the listening experience the music manipulates our mood – sometimes it exacerbates the positive or negative feelings we may have already had, and sometimes it reverses these completely, cheering us up or making us feel melancholy.
For me I find my writing is much more strongly affected by the emotions that music drives me towards rather than those upon which the musical choice was based. And while this may not affect my non-fiction writing (including this blog – although, yes, I am dancing right now in my recliner while writing this, because I am that awesome), it certainly influences my fictional writing, to the point that sometimes my story changes as a result. Suddenly a happy ending can turn into a bittersweet ending if I’m listening to, say, Pink Floyd, while The Beatles can bring a character out of the depths of despair, and The Flaming Lips can just send everything into chaos, and so on and so forth.
I know, however, that not everybody is the same – some people need to write in complete silence, while others use music to block out distractions. Some people listen to instrumental music, or classical music, while others listen to heavy metal with screaming vocals or thumping dance music. So my question is:
Do you listen to music while writing (and if so, what kind of music)?