Soundtrack of Writing: How to Use Your Ipod to Create Mood

I’ve been a participate of NaNoWriMo for the past five years. I was not successful in my word count goals every year, but it gave me the support I needed to start writing and to continue to write. In addition to learning about various software and hardware options to enhance my writing experience from the other writers, I also discovered the concept of learning to write while listening to music on your ipod. There are several advantages to this habit.

1. Social Convention. When you are seated in a coffeehouse with earbuds in your ear, people are less likely to interrupt you. The earbud has become a signal of “do not disturb” in public settings.

2. Blocking Out Noise. The ipod blocks out the general noise of the public place you are writing in. There are fewer annoying conversations to slip into your creative state and the sounds of the coffee bar blenders are blocked.

3. Mood Enhancement. Perhaps the biggest advantage, is that the music you choose creates a mood to enhance your writing. When we go to the movies, the soundtrack helps gives us the audience aural cues as to what is happening. The characters all have their own themes and different kinds of scenes are accompanied with different scores to create the mood of the film. We can use these same soundtracks to create similar moods in our minds while writing.

My local NaNoWriMo group has approximately 35 participates and I put up a poll among them to ask what their favorite writing soundtracks were. The majority of them are college aged writers and their age does influence their choices of music, but after reviewing their selections, I discovered a wealth of lush, emotive scores that are clearly above the norm. Here is the list of recommended movie soundtracks from that group.

Hans Zimmer’s Inception
John Powell’s How to Train Your Dragon
Dario Marianelli’s Pride and Prejudice
Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings (all three movies)
Hans Zimmer’s The Holiday
James Newton Howard’s Peter Pan
Hans Zimmer’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek XI
Mark Knopfler’s The Princess Bride
Various artists Down with Love
Hans Zimmer’s Sherlock Holmes I
Howard Shore’s Eastern Promises
Various Artists Garden State
John Williams’ Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith
Michael Giacchino’s John Carter

4 thoughts on “Soundtrack of Writing: How to Use Your Ipod to Create Mood”

  1. You’ve made an excellent case for the ear buds and the I-pod. Everything seems to be distracting at times while at other times I am so ‘in the zone’ that I probably wouldn’t notice an explosion. The ear buds would definitely help with those times when even hearing the wind blow makes me nuts.

    1. I’ve been a slow convert to this method, but I am starting to use it more when I’m writing outside my office. The social convention aspect is the most useful. Instead of music, I sometimes just run ambient noise tracts too. 🙂

  2. i listen to all kinds of music when i write and sometimes i don’t listen to any – i love the idea of just keeping the ear buds in as a universal signal of “do not disturb”. i do notice that when i’m having difficulty concentrating or i’m dealing with a particularly frustrating section, i do tend to listen to more instrumental pieces. thanks for the suggested listening.

  3. The earbud thing is a godsend when you are working at coffeehouses. While I enjoy chatting with people, there are times when I have deadlines and I need to get words on the page. Having that “do not disturb” sign on me helps during those times.

    Thanks for stopping by the blog, Valerie! 🙂

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