How Music Will Make You a Better Writer

Music has always been essential to my writing process. In fact I’ve found no greater entry into creativity, no easier way to access flow. 

Within minutes of pushing play I’m immersed in the mood of the story, the mind of the character, or the sense of another time or place.

Yes, music is vital to my writing time, those sessions when I’m sitting at my desk working directly on my fiction. But music is also necessary for other aspects of my creative process. Walking is how I solve most of my creative problems, and when I walk I always listen to music.

Sometimes the music is random, but often it is specific.

Years ago I found nearly all my music on iTunes. This got expensive, as I often purchased several albums per month. And frustrating, as sometimes those albums were duds. However, through trial and error I would build specific playlists of ten or twenty songs for individual projects.

More recently I began using some of the streaming services. First Pandora, then Spotify. Eventually I subscribed to Spotify and immediately saw a drop in both my monthly music expenditures and my frustration levels.

Suddenly for about $10/month I could access almost any song I wanted. And now I could create as many playlists as I wanted. And my music was portable, with me always, everywhere. Desktop, laptop, phone.

For Rumors of Marty Goode I had three playlists, and they were curated to provide me with instant access to the characters and the world of that story. These playlists are now public and you can access them by going to Spotify and searching "Marty Goode."

Why multiple playlists instead of just one? Through trial and error I’ve found that once the playlist exceeds about 30 songs the shuffle mode doesn’t seem to work as well, and you get repeats of some songs before other songs have been played.

Another feature of Spotify I find helpful is the way it helps me find new music. Every Monday they update a playlist called Discover Weekly. This playlist is curated for each individual user, and introduces you to artists and songs similar to what you’ve already been listening to. Every Friday Spotify updates a playlist called Release Radar, which is a collection of new releases by your favorite artists. These days I find 90% of my new music through these two playlists. Gone are the days of wasted time and money trying to build my music library. What a time and money saver, and what a great tool for us as writers.

What about you? How does music play into your creativity? How do you access music? Where do you find new songs and artists?


Keep writing,


ps. Want to learn about other habits and techniques of artists of all kinds? Check out Daily Rituals by Mason Currey below.