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what do you listen to while writingDo you listen to music while writing? I, for one, have a difficult time keeping my mind from dissecting the intricacies of any song that’s playing while I’m in the creative, yet focused, mode that I require while sitting down to write an article, formal letter or blog post.

I’ve heard other bloggers mention the importance [to them] of writing to music. But, why can’t I? Perhaps because I’m a drummer. Or perhaps I’m choosing the wrong music. Subtle rhythmic phrases and sonic snippets catch my ear and it’s suddenly necessary for me to shift my focus. Analyze what I’m hearing. Figure it out. Understand it.

What do those writers listen to? I decided to find out and sent the following little direct message to several friends and fellow bloggers out in the Twitterverse.

Do you listen to music while writing?
If so, favorites? If not, why?

Here’s what they had to say:

Maren Kate – Escapingthe9to5.com
I listen to white noise while working and writing, not sure why but it helps me focus on the task at hand and is oddly calming. There is an app called “brain wave” for iPhones *probably Androids too* that I use the most – they produce a few different 99-cent apps and they’re great.

Jenny Blake – LifeAfterCollege.org
Absolutely! I wouldn’t have it any other way. I will listen to anything, but lately I’ve been on a major mash-up kick — I highly recommend Bootie’s Best of Bootie 2010 mix (plus bonus tracks). My other albums du jour: Britney’s Femme Fatale and Adele’s 21.

Jonathan Fields – JonathanFields.com
Stevie Ray Vaughan

Tyler Tervooren – AdvancedRiskology.com
I don’t typically listen to music at all while I write because I prefer 100% of my focus to be on the task at hand (that’s why I stow myself away and ignore all inputs), but occasionally I’ll break that rule and listen to some instrumental tunes, which is a nice change in pace. I can’t do music with vocals because lyrics seem to occupy the same brain space as my own words, and it gets too crowded and messy to write something meaningful.

Sean Ogle – SeanOgle.com
I almost always listen to music when I’m working. I’ve found it not only makes me more creative, but it makes the work more fun. I try and mix up the type of music. Lately I’ve been listening to more upbeat electronic music. It tends to get me pumped up, while not being extremely distracting. I’ve found Grooveshark and Pandora to be invaluable for what I do. I hardly have any music on my computer anymore, between those two services I not only have a wide variety of genres available at my fingertips, but get exposed to new music on a daily basis.

Nate Damm – TheWayThatYouWander.com
I don’t listen to music while writing, I find it distracting. What I do use are nature sounds, and I use them all the time. Stuff like rain, river and storm sounds. I actually started a business around that idea, NatureRelaxingSounds.com, because I like using them so much. I find they give me great focus, especially when there are other things going on around me. I know lots of people like using music, it’s just not for me.

Tammy Strobel – RowdyKittens.com
Most of the time I write in the OmmWriter. I love the OmmWriter because it promotes distraction free writing and it has built in music too. If I’m not writing in that program, then I’m either listening to Fleet Foxes or Ludovico Einaudi. For me, listening to music is soothing and it helps me get into the writing groove.

Ryan – RyanGoesAbroad.com
I have no set routine for listening to music. But I admit I like listening to classical (Beethoven, Mozart, Bach) if I need to be super productive. But since I am in Colombia and am learning Spanish, right now I listen to Colombian music, hoping that the Spanish will somehow seep into my brain and stay there…

Lauren Rains – TheMadToLive.com
Since I was a young baby my parents decided that it would be important for me to learn to fall to sleep with rock n’ roll playing in the background. And since then, I’m pretty much unable to get anything done productivity without some tunes playing in the background. Silence turns on my ADD and creating good work is lost.

Favorites to listen to:
• Explosions In The Sky – Instrumental rock that helps me to really focus and think deeply.
• Bruce Springsteen – I’m a die-hard Boss fan. The storytelling in his lyrics always get me thinking and inspire me. Thunder Road is my favorite song.
• Techno Music- Yes, I for some reason have a weird thing for Techno music. I think its loudness helps me focus on the details in a quick and dirty way.
• Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA always gets my traveling juices flowing… NOT.

Jonathan Mead – IlluminatedMind.net
If I do, it’s definitely ambient or instrumental only.

Dave Bruno – GuyNamedDave.com
Nope. No music while writing. Music takes up too much of my mind.

Tessa Zeng – ExperiencingRevolution.com
My answer is yes! I’ve been experimenting with work flow lately, and I’ve found that certain albums get me into the right mindset. I tend to like surreal, dreamy stuff – like the American Beauty soundtrack or Ellipse by Imogen Heap, the latter of which has been working wonders in unlocking my novel manuscript. I also have a playlist literally called ‘Epic- Get Things Done’ with Metric, Girl Talk, Something Corporate, etc… but that generally only works if I’m already in a defiant take-no-prisoners mindset, haha.

I do write without music a lot too, but more because I already dove in and forgot than anything else. Words have a magnetic ambiance of their own, you know 😉

Earl – WanderingEarl.com
I do indeed listen to music while writing, every single day. It’s always instrumental and typically traditional Indian music (lots of sitar and tabla). I love putting on a long, 45-minute track from Ravi Shankar, such as his performance at the Monterrey Music Festival in the 60’s! And when I tire of Indian music (which is rare), I replace it with banjo/mandolin music from artists such as Bela Fleck.

Matt Koenig – 1yearSabbatical.com
I really struggle with writing so I typically don’t listen to music because I find it to be too much of a distraction and a mental block. However, it’s the opposite when I switch over to photography and am post-processing my photos. I always listen to music then. I’ll listen to a whole range of musical genres from classical to classic rock to contemporary Christian.

Pamela Slim – EscapeFromCubicleNation.com
Why yes I do! Favorites: John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Robin Thicke

Joe Wilner – ShakeOffTheGrind.com
I listen to jazz and folk music while writing lately. Some Miles Davis and Charles Mingus, or as of recently, the Avett Brothers.

Mars Dorian – MarsDorian.com
Sure thing. I luv listening to Angels & Airwaves and Supercar (pop band from Japan) when creating my magic. Their music elevates my spirits and help me create outstanding work!


Hmm . . . looks like I may need to start a new playlist and try out a few of these suggestions!

How about you . . . do you listen to music while writing or doing your other creative work? Share your faves in a comment below!

(photo by skippyjon)