How We Find the Best Music to Write By
Recently, I compiled a post for Pub(lishing) Crawl about the writing tools we couldn't survive without. I was really surprised by how many people (both Pub Crawl gals and readers who commented) listed music among their essential tools. Up until I put that post together, I'd always been a write-in-silence type. I envied those who had whole playlists of music to write by. (Leigh Bardugo posted a great piece about how we use music in our writing here.) So after that tools post, I began to realize that there might be something to this idea of having music to write by. My problem was that I had no idea how to go about discovering the music that would work best for me. (For one thing, I knew I couldn't write to music with lyrics, so I believed (falsely) that my search would be a difficult one.) I asked my fellow Pub Crawlers to give me some ideas for discovering the best writing music, and they gave me some fantastic ideas to explore:
Jordan Hamessley London had this advice, "I listen to ballets. In fact, right now I'm listening to Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW7LVIIYqYg Every now and then I peek over and watch the ballerinas... I do youtube searches for music by length. It's a great way to find playlists and longer pieces of music - full ballets, symphonies, etc."
Amie Kaufman also endorsed youtube as a source of music to write by. "I tend to just grab classical music from youtube and listen to it on loop!"
Erin Bowman raved about rainymood.com. "The website just loops audio of a thunderstorm, but something about it is so soothing and calming. It helps me get in the perfect mood for writing."
Leigh Bardugo recommended Shazam. "I use it to identify music I hear in cafes (yup, I'm that idiot holding her phone up in the air) or in commercials or tv shows." (I've already taken Leigh's advice and used Shazam to identify a song by Langhorne Slim in a commercial! No more searching Google for the snippet of lyric I managed to memorize during the 30 second clip. )
Spotify, Pandora, Songza, etc.
Susan Dennard gave me some great ideas about what can be done with Spotify. "I use Spotify and make GIGANTIC playlists. I was late jumping on the bandwagon for that program--but now I'm as addicted as everyone else. As a movie score lover, I can simply find a composer whose scores I enjoy, and then shuffle through ALL of their compositions (or all the compositions Spotify has available). Spotify will also recommend other artists/albums I might enjoy, so I try those out too. I have discovered so many new movie scores, video game scores, and composers through this program--and when I hear a piece I really love, I'll add it to one of my playlists. What I like best, though, is that I can share parts of the playlists with friends and fans!"
And finally, the tried-and-true ways of discovering new music
Sarah J. Maas had this advice, "I wish I had some super-cool way of discovering music, but... I usually listen to movie scores, so I find most of my writing music by (*drumroll*)....watching a lot of movies. I'm also a classical music junkie & a balletomane, so I discover new stuff by 1) Going to performances 2) Listening to the radio (or Pandora), or 3) Just browsing through the music of composers I love on iTunes. ...Pretty lame, huh?" (Not lame at all, Sarah! I'm so glad you thought to mention the value of seeing live performances as a way of discovering new music!) So many great ways of finding the sounds to suit our writing! How do YOU discover new music to write (or work, or edit) by? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!