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Welcome to The Literary Pig's blog - a safe haven for all those afflicted with
the unbearable urge to write.

Monday, 17 October 2011

What do you listen to when you write?

The music that we write to can be inspiring, motivating or even an integral tool in the whole creative process.  Sarah Higbee (Sci-Fi author) prompted a writing exercise at the recent monthly meeting of West Sussex Writing Club: getting everyone to replay a favourite piece of music in their heads and recall the first time of hearing the piece.  We had to free write whatever came to us: the feelings, thoughts that the memory stirred.  Sarah stated that listening to music can trigger memory paths that are rarely revisited (scent can do the same) and suddenly cause us to recall an experience or emotion that has been long buried.

Many authors write to favourite soundtracks, perhaps to conjure a particular mood, or even to condition themselves into writing.  Maggie Stiefvater (author of The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy) recently tweeted her itunes songlist (>4hrs) to which she wrote her new book The Scorpio Races.   Perhaps this could be a whole new market for itunes... how to write the bestseller - just buy the songlist from your favourite author and off you go ... could even be tailored for your genre ...

So what does the indoor writer listen to?
  • Kate Bush for anything emotive.
  • Hans Zimmer soundtracks (Gladiator, Inception etc) for dark moods (anything supernatural or gothic).  Also soundtracks from Lord of The Rings films.
  • Colin Hay / Suzanne Vega for quirky, surreal flash fiction.
  • The Most Incredible Thing - the soundtrack for Tennant/Love's ballet for anything upbeat.
She loves Radio 4, but can only listen when researching.  Can't listen to anything wordy when writing, simply can't concentrate.

What do you listen to when you write?  Do you have a favourite CD or playlist?  Do you prefer to write to songs or instrumental music?

Keep writing ... and don't forget the soundtrack


  1. I'm really pleased that the music exercise at the West Sussex Writers' Club led you to writing this blog, which I very much enjoyed.
    Like you, I enjoy listening to Kate Bush when writing emotional pieces - also Mike Oldfield, Vangelis, Moby, Florence & the Machine & Kasabian.
    But I've got a playlist of nearly 4,000 tunes ranging from classical right up to modern hits with almost everything in between, apart from jazz which I just don't 'get', sadly...
    Like you, I cannot write with good ol' Radio 4 nattering in the background! Also really enjoyed your review on 'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet' - I went to reading & booking signing he held at Ropetackle last year when he was launching the book. I'm delighted that as well as being a superb writer, he is also a really NICE man!

  2. Hi Sarah, thanks for the comment. Great to hear from another Kate Bush fan! So jealous that you got to see & hear David Mitchell - please do let me know if you find out he's coming to any event in W Sussex I would so love to meet him (though would embarrass myself with all the gushing).