March 13, 2013 by kristin
Some writers absolutely must listen to music when they write. Others absolutely must NOT.
I recently read an interview with historical YA novelist Ruta Sepetys in which she was asked if she listens to music when she writes. Her answer: “Never. I know a lot of writers do, but it would distract me. Music isn’t background ambiance to me. I sit and listen intently to every note and aspect.”
Ever since, I’ve been trying to figure out why I, though not a particular music aficionado, or a music talent agent by day like Ms. Sepetys, fall into the “never ever ever listen to music while writing” camp.
It’s not purely about distraction – I wrote a good chunk of my novel with my toddler tugging on my arm and/or Nick Jr. blasting directly to the left of my head. So why can’t I listen to music? I think it’s because for me, music is about the words, and listening to it jams the frequency of the words flowing in my own head.
I did break my own rule this time and listen to some music from the Ken Burns’ The Civil War soundtrack while I edited my Civil War-set novel. And If I needed help capturing a combination of melancholy and hope for my main characters’ letters to each other, I just paused and listened to the Sullivan Ballou letter read over the mournful strains of “Ashokan Farewell” (and cried every time).
What about you? If you do listen to music while you write, tell me what it does for you. Set the mood? Keep you jazzed for the task?
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