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How to Use Music to Enhance Your Writing Process

Art is all about energy. We pick up on the vibrations around us, it swirls around inside, and we externalize this as creative expression. As writers, we know that finding the ‘write’ mindset and the perfect setting, can make a world of difference to our process (and often, our progress). Interestingly, while some writers may swear they prefer to work in silence, research has shown that the vibrations emitted from music can alter your mood to fit your piece….you just need to find the right vibration!

When your tunes are on, they can even enhance your cognitive function, reduce stress, and help you stay focused while writing. Here are the main benefits of listening to music in your writing process:

1. Setting the mood. Because of music’s ability to tap into feelings, memories, and experiences, it can be a powerful tool when it comes to setting the tone and atmosphere of your writing. Next time you put pen to page, try to match the music to what you’re writing. No matter whether it’s a romantic love scene or a suspenseful action sequence, you may just be able to take what you write to new levels. It’s important to choose a song that will take you where you want to be emotionally and energetically.

2. Increase your focus. Music is a great tool when it comes to blocking out distractions and helping you stay focused. If there’s a background noise that’s distracting (such as building or a ticking clock), music can free your mind to focus more on the words, and less on the noise. If you find working to music with words a problem, try writing to instrumental tunes. Find playlists that match your own needs – there are plenty out there!

3. Boosting creativity. Because music is an emotionally charged sensory stimulant that affects our limbic system and prefrontal cortex, it can help to stimulate the imagination and get your creative juices flowing! Some writers, like Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, Ernest Hemingway, and Toni Morrison, have said they loved to write to music and that it helps their writing process. And if THEY can find it helpful, why not see if it can help you, too?

4. Reducing stress. Music can make us feel a full range of things – and importantly, one of those things is calm. Upbeat music has been shown to help people feel more optimistic and positive about life, while a slower tempo tune can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, soothing away the stress of the day. In fact, “Weightless” by Marconi Union reduces anxiety by around 65%. A group f sound therapists worked with the band to design the vibrations in such a way to lower your resting heart rate and stress levels!

5.The best listening. Your art, your choice. Music is subjective to the listener (and writer), of course. But there are certain genres of music that work as writer-energisers:

a. Instrumentals: classical music, jazz, and instrumental versions of popular songs are good options when it comes to writing if you want to stay focused and don’t want to be distracted by lyrics. Here’s a YouTube playlist of classical music you can use!

b. Ambient music: ambient music, which is music featuring nature sounds or electronic music, can be a good choice for cultivating a calming and meditative atmosphere when writing. Here’s a Woodland Ambience playlist to dip your typing fingers into the forest.

c. Soundtracks: yes, we said it. Soundtracks, from film scores to video game soundtracks and other instrumentals for media can be a great choice when it comes to writing because they’re designed to evoke emotion and create moods. Choose something nostalgic to keep the mood going! Personally, we enjoy writing to the Paper Towns soundtrack.

d. Music with familiar lyrics: these can range from your favourite songs to jam out to in the car, or the tracks on your workout playlist. Make sure you know it well, though, because unfamiliar lyrics can throw you off your rhythm!

Incorporating music into your writing routine can be a powerful tool for boosting your creativity, reducing stress, and enhancing your focus and cognitive function. We encourage you to experiment with different types of music to find what works best for you!

So, next time you sit down to write, try turning on some music and take note of how it affects you, and the piece you produce.

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