How Music can Help You Write Better

Now, I could spend an hour or so writing about why music will help improve your prose, but I think I’ll demonstrate a little bit.
Before I go and do that, here’s the point I’m trying to make: what music (or noise in general) that you listen to while you write will influence/enchance your story’s tone. Music affects you emotionally. So, what you’re hearing while writing can change how you’re feeling while writing. Listening to the right type of music can help your story maintain a feeling and tone (the music’s “feel” should match the story’s, obviously).

For every story I write, I create playlists. I usually have a generic playlist that fits my story’s over all tone, one for sad moments, one for romantic moments, and one for action scenes. You can create as many or as few playlists as you want.

Don’t forget that you don’t to break the bank or clutter your iTunes to do this. You can create a playlist for free on sites like Pandora, SoundCloud or Youtube that have access to hundreds of thousands of songs. While I recommend Youtube (free, easy to block ads, can create playlists, huge selection of music), there are plenty of sites out there. If you don’t want to hand select each song but want a general “feel”, then something like Pandora is a better option for you.

I know that sometimes people struggle to write while music is playing. If this is you (or sometimes you), there is always the option to find a site that plays ambient noises, like rain, birds, campfire, wind, and some even have options like “dragon cave” or “tavern”. These are always fun to use too and can help you in the same way music can.

Okay. Lets see if I can “demonstrate” this. Obviously, you can’t see me doing this, but I’m going to play some songs (I’ll link them) and write whatever during the entire song (so the passage probably won’t have much of a story. Let’s pretend each paragraph is the start of a new story I’m writing).

In this case, the song is shaping the writing instead of letting the music influence it. But, hopefully you’ll get the gist of what I’m trying to do. I invite you to read passages that don’t match up to the song and see how weird it is.

This isn’t scientific or anything. It’s probably better if you listen to the songs and try to write little paragraphs yourself. It’s just to show how music can subtly influence your writing. It’s also a fun exercise to flex those writing muscles, so I encourage you to try it


Lastly, there will be major errors in the paragraphs below. I have left them entirely raw (no editing whatsoever) to better demonstrate how the words match the song.

The girl looked behind her. Then she ran. All around her people ran, and kept running. To where? It didn’t matter. Away. Away from what came behind them, the storm. Glass-like rain swirled and whipped in the air, shooting towards the fleeing mass like arrow from a broken down fairytale. Pieces a already lodged into her skin, which wept like tear. Heart slamming, she looked forward. I can’t afford to look back. This storm, it couldn’t be conquered or defeated, just avoided. Shelter. That’s what she needed to find. Lungs bursting, she legs had started to burn a few miles back.


            The impact drove everyone to the ground. She skidded across the dirt as glass bounced from the stone and into the air. Another huge sheet of the falling sky had broken.


He ran his fingers over the grass, sleep trying to lure him back in. He loved his dreams, more than he loved reality anyway. Things happened in them. He met people who left a deeper impression than “real” people. Those people, the waking people, they always forgot his stories and name, ignored the bruises on his skin.

He didn’t need them anyways. Not when he had his dreams.

In his dreams, she wasn’t dead. Still four and smiling and blond. She’d never change in his dreams. There, they could fly across the sky, free, so free. They swam in the ocean and laughed. So pure and so sweet the sound drifted into the cloud, making the world brighter than the sun ever could.

But he couldn’t escape the reality. She died. And the water here tasted like piss. The grass, mostly brown and dried, gave him nothing. The sun, bleak and hot, didn’t brighten the world but beat on it.

He closed his eyes. Yeah, dreams are better. 

After reading those passages, I hope you better understand how music can influence writing. Those were both free writes and fun to do. As always, I’m happy to answer questions!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s