Music to write to

One ear open, one ear closed

Different people write different ways. Some need absolute silence. Others write best in a room full of people. Me? I feel the most inspired when I have on my huge earphones and I’m surrounded by my favorite music.

Whenever I’m writing a book, I tend to listen to the same music the whole way through the process.  It kind of gives the theme for the book, and reflects what I’m feeling as I write it (and translates into what the characters are feeling, too).

For this last book, I had a very distinct playlist of music I created to listen to.  Here are a few of my favorites:

“Madness” – Muse
This song became the theme of Chapter 16 in A Symphony of Cicadas, when my main character was at the crossroads of her journey and so distraught, all she could do was scream into the wind.  Whenever I hear this song, it brings me back to that chapter, my favorite in the whole book.  (Stay tuned in a couple of weeks when I hash out that chapter in my “sneak peek” series)

“This Must Be the Place” – Talking Heads
I mean, how can you not be inspired by this song?  One of my coworkers used this song as his ring tone, bringing me right back to my teenage years, when mod rock was where it was at.  By the way, Shawn Colvin does a kickass remake of this song that also made it onto my playlist.  It’s a must listen.

“1901” – Birdy
This song makes me want to cry, it’s so good.  I’m a sucker for a good remake of a great song, and Birdy totally does this song by Phoenix justice.  Her whole album is filled with awesome covers of songs I love, and is worth a listen as a whole.

“Holocene” – Bon Iver
I still remember that one year Bon Iver won Best New Artist at the Grammys, and they gave the worst acceptance speech I ever heard – basically spitting in the face of those who voted them in, telling everyone they were NOT a new band, and that receiving an award like this stood against everything they believe in.  Their speech was kind of awful, but I get it.  They want to keep themselves from being sucked into the industry. And for that, I can forgive them for being assholes in their acceptance speech, because their music makes me want to lie in it forever.

“Gravity” – Sara Bareilles
If you guys aren’t watching So You Think You Can Dance, you’re missing out on something amazing.  I’ve always loved this song, but now I can’t listen to this song without being overcome with emotion, thanks to this performance by Kayla and Kupono as they danced out the expressions of addiction.

“Untitled/Dark Divider” – Stomacher
This is the best band you’ve never heard of.  You may not get the chance, either.  The band is on a break right now, taking time after one band member moved on, and another recently passed away.  I had the great fortune of hearing about these guys when they came local to perform and I got to write about them.  I instantly fell in love with their music.

What are your go-to songs when writing?

P.S.  All of my favorite writing/inspiration music is on this playlist on Spotify:


Crissi Langwell is the debut author of A Symphony of Cicadas.  Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

7 thoughts on “Music to write to”

  1. I don’t know how you write with lyric songs, but then I’m sure people would wonder how I could write without it. 😉 I have this great 100 mp3 collection of “dark classical music pieces.” Since my book is on the darker side, it’s really helped me get in the mood for certain scenes. Sometimes I listen to soundtracks too. And sometimes I listen to nothing at all if I really need a lot of brainpower for a certain difficult scene. It’s funny though, I have a writer friend who needs absolute silence always. I just couldn’t work like that. I guess we all have our processes. Thanks for a great post!

    1. I can’t listen to brand new music, it has to be songs I’ve heard at least a thousand times. If it’s new, I tend to pause to listen to the lyrics. However, there are times when I’m working on a part of the story that needs all of my attention, and even the most played out songs are distracting. When that happens, my go-to is Sigur Ros, an Icelandic band who sings beautiful songs in a language I can’t understand. 🙂

  2. We have the same taste in music 😉 I listen to classical music when I write but listen to all else when I’m hanging out. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Lana Del Ray, Fiona Apple, Gin Wigmore, & “The Great Gatsby” soundtrack. You listed some of my fave songs above (“Gravity” anything by Bon Iver & Birdy, Muse…) And I really like “Dark Divider.” I’ll have to share this list on my next “What Caught My Senses” post 😉

  3. Pingback: Week 9: What Caught My Senses This Week | Keep Calm and Write On

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