"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Monday, August 13, 2012

What Do You "Groove to" When You're in the Writing Groove?

“Music soothes the savage beast.”---Anonymous

When a writing colleague called me (early in the a.m.), some time ago, he seemed shocked at what he encountered.

Blaring in the background at night-club-level, was some hot jazz music that served to jump start my day and stir my creative juices.

Baffled, he asked, “How can you work with all that NOISE?”

Tickled, I assured him that it wasn’t ” noise“, and that soul-stirring music, for me, is the equivalent of a good jolt of caffeine for other folks.
It all depends on where my head is at.

Though I tend to be very ritualistic and structured in my daily habits, my music “fix” varies, depending upon my mood, the season, the type of writing, and what kind of week I‘ve had.

For example, if the writing assignment requires great attention to detail, I’m more inclined to opt for instrumental selections. Why?
I find that songs with catchy lyrics and a good beat, tend to have me wanting to sing along and “shake my groove thang.” And needless to say, that can be distracting and counterproductive. So I need to take a pass....thank you!

Conversely, when I need to experience a sense of calm, I truly dig classical.
Beethoven ‘s Fifth captures the beauty and divinity of simple pleasures, and often brings me to tears.
Tchaikovsky works as well.

How about you?

Some artists prefer to create in an atmosphere of solitude, while others enjoy the stimulation that music provides. As a matter of reference, as I type this piece, I am jamming to John Legend’s hit song, “Tonight”.

Other favorites include: Norah Jones, Anita Baker, India Arie, The Beach Boys, Phyllis Hyman, Kenny G, Michael Bolton, and Old Motown Classics.

I posed the question to a few writers and bloggers in my circle, and here’s what they had to say:

Janette Dolores
"No way, I cannot listen to music while I write. Music pulls me in and lifts me to whatever place and circumstance the singer is describing. Even when music is a beautiful distraction, it's a distraction nonetheless. I need complete silence to write.

However, I do listen to music before I write. It sets the mood I need to reach depending on the mood I wish to convey in my piece. If I need to convey rebellion and a little fire in the belly, I listen to Kelly Clarkson or the Dixie Chicks. If introspection is my aim, I listen to Billy Joel or Bruce Springsteen. If I'm looking to describe a tortured soul, I put on a Marc Anthony ballad and weep with him as I craft my forlorn character."

Noelle Sterne www.Trustyourlifenow.com
"I not only enjoy listening to music as I write—I must listen. It’s part of the ritual that helps me keep my writing promise and turn away from the octopus lists littering my desk and mind."

Karen Lange at Write Now shares...
"Sometimes I listen to music, either something on my computer or a random selection on Pandora. I find sometimes though, especially when I'm on deadline,
it can be distracting. I listen to classical and similar, but more often I prefer contemporary praise and worship, such as Michael W. Smith, Hillsong, etc. This
type of music is encouraging, inspiring, and less intrusive. I can't have too much audibly going on when I am focused."

Are you "In a New York state of mind"? Or are you more inclined to unwind to soft, elevator music? What artists or songs would you recommend? Who's on your playlist?

Anxious to hear from you...Your comments are like "music" to my ears.

Image: SPFF


  1. I do love to have music in the background, though it's not a requirement. I lean toward the old skook disco songs because they keep a beat going that seems to make my pen or fingers pump to the rhythm. Surprisingly enough I really don't "hear" the words when I don't need to. I attribute it to growing up in the Projects and living on the 5th floor... across from the subway train in NYC... 125th St. in Harlem, one of the busiest streets and 24 hour transit. I had to learn to sleep through noise. LOL (or should that be WOL - Writing Out Loud?)

  2. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 13, 2012 at 9:50 AM


    I hear 'ya. :-) It's important to be able to tune out when it's important. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Had to chuckle at your routine. I can filter some noise out, but I don't think I could quite do that. :)

  4. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 13, 2012 at 6:21 PM


    It's certainly an "acquired taste." :-)

    1. Yes, I definitely have a thing for Music, and since I also actually worked at one of the major record companies, I also got to know a lot of different types of Music. January 2011 I also actually wrote a post about an MP3 Player with Music being a great Writing Compagnion that can help to put you in a specific (emotional) state that you might want to get into for your writing.

      This reminds me of how when I was working in the Music Business, Music was also used as a way to 'Guard your Territory', For example you could get a pretty good idea about the Emotional State of collegues, for example sometimes when the office door of a collegue was shut, and very Loud Music you could consider it, - Keep Out Music - telling 'Keep out, I am to busy to talk, or in a bad mood'.

      Or when the door was open, with nice and Fun Music it was more like - Invitation Music - telling more something like: 'Come in let's chat' (Btw. Emotional State is also actually something that I wrote about in my tiny little - Vision - ebook that I (pre) sell on several of my blogs.)

    2. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 15, 2012 at 10:50 AM


      Very, very interesting stuff, guy. :-) So cool that you once worked for a major label. Thanks for sharing. :-)

  5. I love this question! I occasionally listen to music while I'm writing, but nothing with lyrics, since I find them distracting. I prefer movie soundtracks as a musical backdrop to write to. (I sometimes throw some classical in as well.)

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 15, 2012 at 10:58 AM


      ...And I "love" that you took the time to share your comment. :-)
      Welcome! I dig the idea of movie soundtracks. My favorite is from the movie "Love Jones."

      Thanks much for stopping by and weighing in!

    2. Movie soundtracks remind me of an other somewhat funny Music Business 'Inside Story....,'

      When I first came to work at that major record (& entertainment) company, I was very curious about this band named 'OST' that I frequently saw in repertoire lists.

      Not knowing that it meant
      Original Sound Track :)

  6. Being a music writer, it surprises many people to know I don't usually listen to music when writing, unless I'm reviewing an album, in which case, it must be in my ears. My music of choice is metal in all it's various forms and genres, and that's the kind of music that doesn't sit quietly in the background. When I'm working on assignments, I like silence so I can focus, but when I'm answering emails, researching markets or pitching clients, I usually have Blind Guardian or Amon Amarth blasting.

  7. There's some good musical selections on here, Jen. I recognize some of the artists, and look forward to familiarizing myself with the rest.

    Thanks for asking this question! I'm always willing to have you pick my brain. ;-)


  8. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 16, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Steff Metal,

    Welcome! Music writers are my kinda' people. :-)It must be so cool to review music for a living. I once did some blog work for reviewing jazz musicians, and it was totally awesome, dude.
    Thanks so much for vibin' with us today. ;-)

  9. Janette,

    ...I "hear" 'ya. Always a pleasure. B/T/W/ Forgot to mention SADE, she's one of my faves too. :-)

    1. I love Sade, as well. So soothing and romantic. That reminds me that I have a friend who looks a lot like Sade. Not a bad person to resemble! ;-)

      Be well...


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  11. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 17, 2012 at 5:11 AM

    wOW! Thanks much. Good to hear from you, Mouzzam!

  12. Lucky people who can work with music playing in the background. Some brains (like mine) can only focus on one thing at a time. So I get in the groove by playing online solitaire.

  13. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 19, 2012 at 4:28 PM


    I can dig it. Though believe it or not, I've never played online Solitaire. :-)