Music to Write By

Do you play music in the background to stimulate your creative juices when you are writing? It seems that the right music can effect positively any activity. For instance, I discovered that playing Handel’s Entrance of the Queen of Sheba propelled me into my least favorite activity of housecleaning. I zipped through those dreary tasks gayly sweeping a feather brush over lampshades and book shelves. I whipped through the drudgery and got on to the serious business of writing before my now dust-free computer monitor.

But what music is conducive to your writing, gets you going in positive directions and keeps you glued to that page composing for hours scintillating prose?  I have found that it depends on what I am writing and where I am at in the stages of a project. For the first draft of a short story or novel, John Coltrane or Miles Davis works. For some reason the jazz helps the innovative process. When my theme, setting and characters are fixed and have assumed substantial form, I play thematic music that will evoke the mood and place of my story.  The Andean music of the South American group Inti-Illimani kept me writing steadily on my novels Voice of Stone and Conquistadora that are set in Peru. When I was writing the third novel in the trilogy Daughter of the Conquest and was trying to evoke what life must have been like in a sixteenth century great convent, I played a CD, a wonderful mixture of Indian and Spanish sacred music, Nueva España directed by Joel Cohen with the Boston Camerata.  I also played convent Gregorian chant music.

Typically, I do not play lyrics while I am writing, with the exception of Enya’s CDs, which I have played while writing poetry.  Most often I choose a classical symphony or instrumental guitar music. My husband, who writes science-fiction, chooses some of the New Age music from Narada collections.  Anything that will act subliminally while still freeing the words from your mind will work.

Is music a part of your creative process? If so, what types of music do you write by?

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