A few days ago on Twitter a friend asked if anyone listened to music while they worked. She said she was writing with headphones on and struggling to hear her writing voice over the music.
I’m not sure how her other friends responded, but I usually listen to music when I write. Working in complete silence doesn’t work for me, possibly because there’s always something I can hear—the fridge humming, the house creaking, my own breathing, etc. So I put on some music to create my own background noise.
But to do that, it can’t be just a random selection from my iTunes library. No, the album needs to have a few… shall we say “qualities”.
First, it can’t have any lyrics. You have no idea how many times words from songs have made their way into my writing, usually with comical results. This is one reason I envy artists, who can probably work with any kind of music playing. (The other reason being that they can draw.)
Second, I need to know it backwards so it drifts into the background without me getting distracted my something new I’ve noticed.
Finally, it needs to be relatively “soft”, which in my case means it features a lot of synthesizers and would probably be found in the New Age or Ambient section.
Over the years I’ve built up quite a collection, and so I’ll often be listening to Vangalis, Brian Eno, Enya (her lyrics are more like another layer of music) and even people like Craig Padilla. But if I need to get into the writing mindset quickly, then there’s only one choice: Jean Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene”.
I’m not sure why, but this particular album is the one I turn to again and again (and yes, I’m listening to it now). Maybe I’ve done so much writing with it playing it’s now part of my writing kit. (Hey, at least I can take it pretty much everywhere I go.)
So, what music do you listen to when you’re writing?