The Power of Music and How It Can Help You Write

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
– Victor Hugo

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about music and how it affects my writing. I’m a huge music lover so you’ll often find me writing with headphones in, music going. But what place does music have in writing?

This is what I hope to explore. I’ve often thought that music was a great source of inspiration for writing. Music evokes strong emotions and takes you far away. It helps that most music has a narrative structure; when you think about it  music is another way of telling a story. It can push you and motivate you as you write. I often listen to music to keep me writing. Music sets a mood, setting and feeling.

I’ve been finding myself listening to a lot of Marina and the Diamonds, Emeli Sande and Feist. Marina’s voice is haunting and her lyrics often portray the dark side of people, Emeli’s music is inspirational and uplifting, and Feist’s music often reveals a quiet, pensive look on life and its outcomes. You can see how all of these artists’ music has a certain theme and feel. If I want to maintain a certain mood while writing I’ll put on the appropriate music. When I’m feeling a bit darker and moodier, I’ll put on Marina. When I’m feeling chill and relaxed, some Feist. And when I want to feel encouraged, Emeli.

Even writing about music can get your creative juices flowing. I always like to read the summaries of albums on iTunes because the people who wrote those clearly put a lot of thought and effort into explaining the feel and style of those artists and their music. And the description those writers use can get you thinking about your stories, poems, lyrics or whatever other creative project you’ve got going. You can apply the music to your character, to the setting or to your own story (whether it be personal or fictional).

You might want to consider incorporating music into your writing process to assist you when you’re brainstorming or stuck in a rut. It doesn’t work for everyone but it might work for you.

Do you use music as a source of inspiration? If so, what kind of music do you listen to?