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The Music – Writing Playlists can set the mood and get you out of a rut

Music is very Pavlovian for me when I’m writing.  I can’t start a new work without creating a playlist.  Once created, that playlist drives my writing time.  I pop on the headphones, crank up the playlist and I’m immediately transported to the world I’ve created in my WIP. Months later I can hear a song from the playlist and my fingers get itchy to type.

We were driving in the car the other night and my iPod stumbled upon my Sliver of Souls playlist.  Commenting on my DJ’ing skills, my husband told me I was in a very Emo mood.  It made sense.  I didn’t create the playlist with those characteristics in mind, but Maggie (the MC of SoS) is kind of an emo chick.  She’s the best kind, though.  She has all of the melodramatic teen angst without the poser wardrobe and affected melancholy.  Rather an ironic Emo if you think about it.  The Emo sub-culture is ironic to begin with in their angsty posturing.  Maggie unintentionally embraces all things Emo, so doesn’t that make her an Ironic Emo?  Now we’ve coined two phrases for a new line of t-shirts.  “Sublime Fools Unite” and “Ironic Emos Unite.”  I’m ditching this writing thing and going into the t-shirt business.

Here’s a look at the Silver of Souls playlist.  I shoot for a play length of approximately 60 minutes because I write in one-hour bursts.

  • “Staplegunned” (Remix) by The Spill Canvas = 3:11
  • “Dismantle.Repair” (Acoustic) by Anberlin = 4:34
  • “Cross the Line” by Ruth = 3:40
  • “Tiffany Blews” by Fall Out Boy = 3:45
  • “Idlewild Blue (Don’t Chu Worry ‘Bout Me)” by Outkast = 3:24
  • “That Day” by Poe = 2:41
  • “T.V. Family” by The Rocket Summer = 4:13
  • “Swandive” by Ani DiFranco = 6:30
  • “My Junk” from the Spring Awakening Broadway recording = 2:28
  • “September Skyline” by Single File =  3:15
  • “As Lovers Go” (Ron Fair Remix) by Dashboard Confessional = 3:29
  • “Shooting Up in Vain” (T-Ray Remix) by Eagle Eye Cherry = 4:51
  • “Some Say” by Sum 41 = 3:26
  • “Typical” by Tickle Me Pink = 3:15

Today, I’m working on a playlist for my WIP.  No working title yet.  I don’t pick the songs based on lyrics or titles.  I just listen to my gut.  If they give me a certain feeling that fits with my MC, they make the list.  Funny enough, once I dig into the playlists for months at a time, I find hidden meaning in the lyrics which seem to fit certain scenes or certain writing days.  Here’s the latest list:

  • “Thief” by Our Lady Peace = 4:01
  • “25 to Life” by Eminem = 4:01
  • “Falling in Love” by Lisa Loeb = 4:07
  • “Not Coming Home” by Maroon 5 = 4:21
  • “Kids” by MGMT = 5:02
  • “The Only Difference Between Martrydom and Suicide is Press Coverage” by Panic! At the Disco = 2:57
  • “Yellow Ledbetter” by Pearl Jam = 5:00
  • “Mercy Street” by Peter Gabriel = 4:44
  • “The Zephyr Song” by Red Hot Chili Peppers = 3:52
  • “Devil Boy” by Seven Mary Three = 4:24
  • “The Grocery Store” by Single File = 2:59
  • “Nightingale Song” by Toad the Wet Sprocket = 2:03
  • “Winter” by Tori Amos = 5:42
  • “Hands Held High” by Linkin Park = 3:55
  • “Let It Be” by The Beatles performed by Gospel Choir of the Cascades = 3:48
  • Bonus Song: “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri = 4:45

Take a listen and let me know what you think about my new MC.  I’ll give you a hint… she’s a 16-year old girl.  What type of person do you think she is?  What is she going through right now?

Do you write to music? Or do you need it perfectly quiet?  Any good playlists or songs that have inspired your writing?

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Looking at your play lists I think your choice of music is really interesting but I only listen to music if I know I’m relaxing or perhaps making the dinner. I love silence – if I can get it -to work in. Silence makes my characters and images seem more alive, or rather lively I guess. I’m glad everyone is different and music obviously spurs you on while you are working.

    January 30, 2012
  2. I love playlists too, couldn’t do without them.

    January 30, 2012

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