Writing With Music: Yay Or Nay?

Today it’s time for me to address the age-old question: should you play music while writing or not?

First off, there is no should. Some people thrive on silence while they write, some require background noise, some want sensory overload while they attempt to churn out words. Personally, I fall into the latter category. If I don’t have a playlist with several songs that fit the mood and the theme of the story I’m writing, I feel lost and can’t add the required depth to the story.

However, when I have a really specific plot, it can be hard to find songs that work for me. I’ve only found one song that fits a certain plot of mine. The weirdest, and greatest, thing is when you’re just minding your own business, listening to some music, and suddenly THIS SONG FITS MY WIP PERFECTLY OH MY GOD.

One band is my go-to source for WIP-related songs. It’s the British band Ten, fairly unknown outside of a small circle of devoted fans (I have an eccentric taste in music). Ten is perfect for me since I love well crafted lyrics that avoid clichés, incredible melodies and hooks, heavy guitars and sexy voices. Once I had outlined an entire seven novel fantasy series (it’s about halfway done, before y’all ask). I had always skipped this one song on one of Ten’s albums and for some reason it came up and, for once, I didn’t skip. And no lie, that song fit the series to a tee. I mean, from the lyrics via the mood to the voice and instruments. It was as if it was specifically written for that series.

When things like that happen, it can give your motivation and inspiration a huge boost. Even now, when I hear that particular song, I immediately want to work on that particular WIP. It’s a strange sensation. And that makes me wonder how people write without music.

So, do you guys write without music? What is your reason?

And I leave you with one of my favorite songs from my favorite band:

It Ends This Day – Ten

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Writing Versus Chronic Illness

Full disclosure: I have a chronic illness that causes me daily pain (yay) and tires me out easily (more yay). Latest diagnosis shows that it has to do with hypermobility in my joints. I also suffer from chronic migraines, which means I have anywhere from 10-20 severe migraines per month. Let that sink in. I’ve had them for 20+ years now, so I can manage around them, but they’re still a freakin’ PITA.

Because of this, I am too great a risk for employers. They feel I could explode in the workplace and that’s just bad manners. That’s why I started my own company copywriting, translating and editing about nine years ago. It’s going pretty well. Freelance work is uncertain, but I’m able to work from home and mostly set my own hours. Woke up with a migraine? No problem, I can take my meds, start work later and work until midnight. (Most of the time, although sometimes I have deadlines that just don’t allow any leeway.) Because of the uncertainty of the work, however, I have longer hours and work weeks than normal people. Alas, I can’t remember the last weekend I had off.

I don’t mind. It’s better than doing nothing, and I do fine.

When it comes to writing, that’s when it gets tricky. Like, super tricky.

After a long, 14 hour work day, everything hurts, I’m exhausted and I sit at my laptop and tear out my hair, going, “Bluuuuuh. Writing is soooo stupid. Uuuuugh.”

When I leave that phase in the rearview mirror and enter a more reasonable stage (for certain values of reasonable), I think, “I worked all freakin’ day. I’m in pain and I want to go to bed. I’m allowed a break. I don’t have to write. It’s a hobby, not a job.”

That’s where I go veering off the tracks. See, it IS a hobby, not a job. I worked all day, my body is killing me, maybe my head feels like a goddamn supernova on crack, so I deserve some time for myself, some time to spend on my hobby. Which is, you guessed it: writing.

When I don’t write for a while, I get cranky. I get depressed and restless. It’s interesting how easily I (and maybe some of you) dismiss that when it’s time to put pen to paper or keys to screen and actually do it. No time, too tired, too hurty, too much self-pity, too sad, too ugh.

When you’re chronically ill, it’s easy to feel like life owes you — or at least should ease up on those ridiculous demands — because you’ve been dealt a relatively shitty hand. It doesn’t. The only one who can make your life better is you (and possibly Chris Evans), and writing is good for you. So why not push through that pain and exhaustion and do it? It gives you an outlet, it keeps your mind busy and it’s just plain fun.

I promise, it does get easier the more you do it!