Writers have plenty of tricks to put ourselves in the creative zone. Whether we’re actively brainstorming or staring aimlessly until a random stroke of brilliance worms its way into our minds (writing is weird, right guys?), we always find a way to say exactly what we mean.
However, when the silence from our unbridled headspace proves to be too quiet, we rely on some good, old-fashioned auditory motivation to keep the copy coming. The following is some music I find helpful when writing at work, at home, for business, or for pleasure.
The Copywriter’s Soundtrack
When I’m writing to music, I sometimes find that songs with lyrics can be distracting. Whether it’s another writer’s words clouding my head or my insatiable desire to sing along, melodies can get in the way of my creative process. Whenever I find it particularly difficult to put the pen to paper (the fingertips to the keyboard?), I try to get inspired, and no other group can do that for me quite like Explosions in the Sky.
My Pick: “Your Hand in Mine” by Explosions in the Sky
Why: Anyone who has seen Friday Night Lights (either the movie or the subsequent television series) has heard this post-rock outfit. You know the emotionally charged music that plays whenever there is a pivotal scene? Yeah, that’s them, and guess what? Nothing will make your thoughts seem more important than having this band build to a crescendo during your progress. Go ahead and give it a shot.
YOU SAID IT, COACH.
Film scores can also help me out of a funk. As an alternative to instrumental post-rock, I usually turn on something orchestral to help break the silence and keep me concentrated. Don’t know where to begin? Try looking up the film score to your favorite movie and see if that does the trick.
My Pick: Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope by John Williams
Why: What can I say? I’m a sucker for the franchise. But I’m sure Hans Zimmer and company can also help add some spark to that bit of copy you’re working on.
This guy knows what I’m talking about. Rock ‘n’ roll.
“This track is my JAM!” is something I have said on more than one occasion. I’m not proud of it. But a particularly likeable song can lead you to say some strange things. Feeling comfortable enough with a song to the point of conferring upon it “jam” status usually means I’ve listened to it on repeat on more than one occasion. I don’t get bogged down by the melody or lyrics in these songs, simply because I’ve heard them so often.
My Pick: The Beatles
Why: Growing up, I listened to a lot of Beatles music, and I mean a lot. Over these years of prolonged listening, I’ve familiarized myself with their catalogue so much that I can write with them as my soundtrack today without any of the “lyrics” distraction. Now that’s fab.
So what’s playing on your headphones? Metallica? Jimmy Buffett? J-Biebz? A mash-up of all three? I will absolutely assume so until proven wrong. Here are what some other writers had to say:
Currently Spinning: Fever Ray, Vikings Soundtrack, Tron Soundtrack
“I like to find soundtracks from movies or video games that have a similar voice to what I imagine for the client. Puts me in the mood and guides me to the right style (I hope). And a lot of times, soundtracks have more instrumental versions of songs, so there are no words to distract me.”
Currently Spinning: Marvin Gaye, Father John Misty
“Listening to Marvin Gaye at work makes even words like ‘hashtag’ & ‘blog’ feel sexy as hell.”
Currently Spinning: 1492: Conquest of Paradise Soundtrack, The Last of the Mohicans Soundtrack
“I’ll pretty much listen to anything without words. Depending on my mood, that could range from ambient to trip-hop to classical. I find movie scores to be incredibly moving and inspirational—without being too distracting.”
Currently Spinning: Yo-Yo Ma, Billy Joel, Portishead
“If I’m working on something information-heavy, it’s single-instrument classical all the way. If it’s more brainstorming, naming, creative concepting, etc., then it’s anyone’s guess from the wide range of genres in my playlist. I’m a musical whack-a-mole. Hit me!”
Currently Spinning: Bach, Pink Floyd, Chromeo
“It all depends on my mood and what level of distraction I can handle. And my taste in music is rather eclectic, so it ranges.”
Currently Spinning: Coralie Clement, Zaz, Jay-Z
“When I need to buckle down and concentrate, some background music can be nice. But nothing I’ll be tempted to sing along to! When it’s a Friday evening, however, all those rules go out the window. Give me Jay-Z or give me death.”