Sixty second writing tips: music to my writers’ block

We all know, I think, about music and writing – how different music can sets different writing moods.

You’re pretty much guaranteed to write something different while jouncing along to Katy Perry than you would if you hurled Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries through your sound system.

It’s a powerful technique and one I figured I could take a step further by using it as a device to un-stick writers’ block. Normally I either write in silence, or classical – no vocals – because words interfere with the ones I am trying to think of.

I got stuck the other day, though. Drastically. Which called for drastic measures. Specifically, a change of music to Nightwish at planet-cracking volume. Then Epica.

It worked. Sudden shift of ambience. Sudden shift of thought. Sudden shift of neighbours. I’d recommend it to any writer who’s stuck. Or has annoying neighbours.

Does changing the writing ambience work for you?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

16 thoughts on “Sixty second writing tips: music to my writers’ block

  1. Congrats on getting unstuck! I love music for switching gears and relaxing–something vital and easily skipped, for me. Breaks, getting out of the “office” (house! ;)) and changing my surroundings seem to help me most.


    1. Thanks – yes, music is an amazingly powerful ‘gear changer’. I’ll sometimes go out for a walk, too, which helps a good deal. It’s that inevitable problem of translating the concept in the mind to the written word.


  2. I especially like classical music with very strong melodies for this purpose, like Faure or Saint-Seans, or even Hans Zimmer’s movie soundtracks (though that makes me think of the movies in question). If that fails, it’s Blind Guardian for me at, as you say, planet-cracking volumes.


    1. Sounds very similar to what I do. I have some Blind Guardian in my collection. Apparently they offered, years back, to write the music for Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies – were politely declined, I heard. But I think it would be apt.


  3. I use music a lot just as a way to set the mood when I write or to draw inspiration from when I just feel like kicking back and listening. I’m usually into movie soundtracks or electronic/ambient/downtempo stuff when I’m actually writing, but I also like viking/folk metal or more traditional folk stuff when I just want to absorb mood and texture and imagery.


  4. Reblogged this on Sleepy Book Dragon and commented:
    I like to listen movie soundtracks when writing but I have never thought of listening to music to help me when I have writer’s block. I think I will give this ago next time I get stuck.


  5. Music works great for me – and now that you’ve reminded me of Nightwish, I’ll have to listen to them again.

    Usually I listen to classical, or something without words. Bel Canto (the group, not the classical style) is also good, and their music is made up of sound bites, some words & non-sense syllables. They also have a number of albums with different tempo bases, and instrumentation styles.

    Almost always, one of Bel Canto’s albums, or classical will work. When they don’t though – I resort to Vampire Weekend.

    Thanks for such a great post & have a great weekend!


    1. I haven’t heard ‘Bel Canto’ the band – must check them out. I certainly wouldn’t call Nightwish ‘Bel Canto’ style, vocally, even during their Tarja Turunen days – though I think Turunen also sings opera. Nightwish were out here in NZ during January, with Floor Jansen on vocals.


  6. I like to listen to classical. It creates a soothing and non-disruptive background. Most often I have simply silence, as much as possible since I have a constant buzzing in my ears. However, when you have a very hard-of-hearing husband you’re libel to get whatever show he wants to watch, most often golf. The volume is distracting even 2 rooms away! 🙂
    Gotta luv ’em, right?


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