Music is the key to getting any sort of good writing out of me.
Here’s my confession: I’m wildly unoriginal. Maybe 10% of my ideas are based on a “What if?” scenario. The other 90% of the time, I’m inspired entirely on how a song made me feel.
If you check my Last.fm charts, you’ll see a ton of songs with hundreds of listens. Something will move me, and I’ll listen to it on loop while I scrawl a first draft. The music takes me on a journey, and brings with it a world and characters. I’m just following the notes of a story the song is telling me.
Sometimes, I use music to set the tone for a scene. Did I wake up feeling groggy, but need to write a high-energy action scene? Play something pumped up and heroic! Did I just have the best day of my life, and need to kill off a major character? Somebody get me the Titanic score! Sometimes the mood of the song is totally unrelated to what I’m writing, but brings me back to a moment in my life that’s relevant. It’s a powerful weapon.
For writing, I prefer music without lyrics. Singalongs are for chores and driving. There are a few exceptions, but generally I find lyrics distracting. The music is there to create a mood, and become invisible. Video game music and film scores are prime contenders for this criteria, but there are a few independent artists that fit the bill.