Music (or Not) — Writing Tools

Now, I realize that there tend to be two major camps when it comes to music as a writing tool. You either like listening to music, or you can’t do it.

Personally, I’m a big fan of listening to music when I write.

However, it has to be the right type of music and the right type can change depending on the project I’m working on.

When writing for Redwall Survivor last year, I listened to some Pirates of the Caribbean, “Shiver My Timbers” from Muppet Treasure Island, and some various other nautical themed things. But every time I sat down for a writing session, I always started my playlist with Peter Hollens version of “Baba Yetu. Not sure why, but it got me in the perfect writing mood. If curious, you can view a YouTube variation of my playlist.

I have a playlist titled “Writing Inspiration” on my iPod and it has soundtracks from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mummy (and The Mummy Returns), Star Wars Episode 1, and How To Train Your Dragon (1 & 2). It also has the full soundtrack from the video game, Skyrim.

This playlist is not limited to soundtracks. I’ve got lots of Lindsey Stirling, Piano Guys, Blackmore’s Night and Celtic Thunder on this list, along with a smattering of my favorite Disney songs. Also an absolutely amazing album by Michael W. Smith called Freedom that has inspired multiple scenes in my books.

There are random songs in there from different movies and artists and each of those songs has something about it that inspires a scene or emotion in my writing.
However, I have not been listening to my writing playlist much during my revision lately. I’ve been toying around with something different.

I saw a link via one of my writing groups on Facebook for something called ‘Brain.fm‘. Usually, when I see a random link and no more information, I just skim right along over it. However, this time, curiosity won and I clicked to see just what Brain.fm was.


In a nutshell, it’s ‘music’ that’s been shown in various studies to influence brain activity to achieve specific results, such as needing to focus on some creative work (like the current lesson of a 22-week revision course), or sleeping.

I’ve been toying around with it via the free sessions. I’ve had a few times where I noticed absolutely no difference in my performance, yet other times I’ve plugged in the headphones, gotten to work on the revision stuff, then suddenly realized that it had been over half an hour (the default session time for Focus – Intense), the music had shut off some time before, and I’d gotten a huge amount of the work done.

I’ve tinkered with the Sleep settings too and gotten mixed results there, though I have always liked falling asleep to gentle music in the background.

Whether or not you find working to music beneficial, toying with Brain.fm is kinda fun and it’s interesting to see the various results. I’m using the free system for now, but if finances work in my favor in the future, I’d actually like to purchase a this for a while to see what sort of results I get when the system is programmed with my personality and it logs the results of how beneficial my sessions are.

Be aware, because they say people with seizures and who are pregnant should not use Brain.fm, so do use some caution as needed.

How about you? Are you a fan of music when you write, and what music? Or do you like the sound of silence? Ever tried Brain.fm? Let me know in the comments!

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