Before we kick off today’s awesome group post: It’s still ALL ABOUT QUERYING month! About critiques and finding the strengths in our queries. Tomorrow, we’ll be sharing the first two query critiques. And next week, Reem and Alex will share very informative posts about querying tips, punctuated by a super insightful PitchWars Mentee interview before the agent’s showcase!
Now, for today’s Ask Us Pub Questions, Becca wants to know: My question is how does music influence or affect your writing process? Do you make playlists when writing a certain wip? Do you find inspiration from it? Or is it distracting?
Music plays a MAMMOTH role in how I write, but ironically? I can’t listen to music while I’m writing. In fact, if I’m sitting at a coffee shop that’s slightly too noisy, I often have to put in noise-canceling earplugs just to focus!
For me, music is more of a muse and a two-fold source of inspiration. Firstly, when I’m brainstorming. It’s the tone-setter! A moment will pop into my head and I’ll ask myself: What song(s) would inspire this scene? I’ll often go on long walks while curating my WIP playlist and jot notes about the story into my phone. Once the story is finished, it 100% becomes the soundtrack to the movie in my head that plays when I read it back!
(For fun, here’s the WIP playlist for the story I’m currently querying!)
—Sarah, all things YA!
I agree big time with Sarah! I’m a music lover but I can’t listen to music while I write because it distracts me. Usually, while I love music and I love writing, I never mix these two parts of me together.
But recently for DESTITUTES AND FIENDS, I relistened to Lana Del Rey’s Young And Beautiful and realized it was just PERFECT for the story—my hero, Eric, is scarred. The lyrics rhymed beautifully as if it was written for this book. I thought nothing would top that! But then the other day, I was relistening to Piece By Piece by Kelly Clarkson and omg, I almost burst into tears when the lyrics hit. Because that was Ava, my heroine’s, song. Word for word. The pain, being abandoned by one’s parent, promising they’d never let that be done to their younger one… So Young And Beautiful became Eric’s song while Piece By Piece has become Ava’s.
Out of all my books, D&F has been the only one with such strong connection to music for me!
– Lucia: The Regency and Fantasy Writer!
I love music for my WIP playlists, and I listen to them while I am not writing. Similar to Lucia, I cannot listen to music with lyrics while I write or revise. Sometimes I play instrumental music in the background when I am ready to revise. If I am writing at home, sometimes I use coffee shops background noise. It helps me concentrate!
For my latest WIP, it was a high fantasy novel and I was able to use a playlist to set the mood because most of the songs for my playlist were trailer music (Two Steps from Hell mostly) and the Instrumental Songs from Lord of the Rings. For the current one the main song that inspired me; was War of Hearts (Acoustic Version) by Ruelle and I can only listen to it while I am not writing. It does the trick, though, because I come up with different scenes for my MCs every time I re-listen to it!
-Alexandra, YA & NA Romance Writer!
I loved reading the previous answers to this question! Like Sarah, Alexandra and Lucía, I’ve found that I can’t really focus on my writing when I listen to music with lyrics because my attention fades. So, what I normally do is either I write in silence or I turn on soft instrumental music like songs from Yiruma, Yanni or Studio Ghibli. Sometimes I also use music from my k-drama soundtrack playlists on Spotify. I have instrumental versions, but I can also listen to the ones with lyrics. In this case, the lyrics don’t really bother me because they’re in Korean so I don’t get distracted. In the past days I have been playing the song “Parting at the River of Three Crossings” by Hong Dae Sung (from Tale of the Nine Tailed) way too many times. I love it so much!
I guess what matters most to me is the feeling within the music, so for writing I normally choose songs that are quieter and calmer, in this way I can get inspired but I can still be productive with my manuscript.
-Mariana, The PB Writer!
Looks like I’m the only one who does listen to music while writing! Music is a very big inspiration for me, and very often I get new plot bunnies popping into my head after hearing a song. Typically every WIP I’m working on has a theme song (and some a full soundtrack), and I keep the songs on repeat while I’m writing because it keeps me in the right mood for the story. My soundtracks tend to be multi-lingual since I listen to music in English, Chinese, Cantonese and Korean and I’m hoping to start a story inspired by the Hotel Del Luna OST one day 🙂
Here’s the Spotify playlist for one of my completed MSes, FTW, a YA contemporary about a girl overcoming the odds in the hyper-competitive world of esports!
–Amber, YA/NA SFF!
Music plays a huge role in my writing process. Fun fact about me: Before I wanted to become an author, I wanted to be a singer/songwriter. When it came time to apply for college, I auditioned for some music colleges. I even got offered a conditional acceptance to Berklee College of Music for vocal performance that would have required me to study in Europe for a year before moving to the main campus. In another reality, I would have chosen that path, but I wanted a bit more stability for my college experience and I wanted to keep my options open to explore other interests and ultimately, I went to a liberal arts college. I don’t have any regrets about my choice because I found something I’m more passionate about than music during my college experience…writing novels.
That’s not to say that I don’t still love music, because my love for music finds its way into all my novels in some form or another. As someone who did theater all throughout elementary to high school, the novel I’m currently querying is the most heavily influenced by music and my former theater kid persona. There’s so much of myself and my love for music and theater in that novel and I can honestly say that out of the three novels I’ve written, this one is the novel of my heart. It’s always fun to incorporate that musical part of myself in my writing because I can try my hand at songwriting without having to pick up instruments that I sound horrendous playing.
I have carefully crafted playlists for all of my novels that capture the vibes of them scene by scene. These playlists always include songs that remind me of the scenes or in some cases, inspired the scenes themselves. I’ve written scenes inspired by Taylor Swift songs and Olivia Rodrigo songs before because they’re both spectacular storytellers. Yes, songwriting is storytelling too! Which is exactly why I feel like it was such an easy jump for me to go from wanting to be a singer/songwriter to wanting to be a published author. I listen to these playlists as I write and sometimes the right song while I’m working on a certain scene is exactly the inspiration I need to keep writing or editing. Music is just a part of my life and it’s always going to inspire me as I write. I’ll definitely be the author with novel playlists at the back of my published novels/on my author website for my readers to enjoy along with the novels.
Here’s the Spotify playlist for the novel I’m querying, a YA theater camp rom-com featuring fake dating, inspired by my love for High School Musical and theater.
-Reem, All Things With Heart in YA!
How does music influence YOUR writing?
(Also, got a question you’d like us to collectively answer? Leave a comment on our Ask Us Pub Questions page!)