Music to Write By: Genres and Music

If you know me or have been reading my blog for a while, then you know that music is very important to me and is one of my greatest sources of inspiration. Not only that, but a lot of the stories I write tend to involve music in some way.

I have playlists for each story that I’m working on. I don’t usually listen to music while I’m actually writing, but any time I’m brainstorming, researching, or just doing daily activities like driving I will put on my playlist for my current project. I always seem to be juggling two or three story ideas in my head at any point in time (not to mention thinking about my blog, the writing I do for my job, and just thinking about life in general). So I find that having specific playlists that relate to specific stories really helps me to not only get in the mood to write, but keeps my brain focused on what I want to focus on at any point in time.

And just so you can understand why I need separate playlists for all my projects, here is a sampling. I write a wide variety of stories/genres, and therefore the music reflects that. I actually don’t have a “general writing music” playlist; the music needs to be story and world specific.

Genre: Portal Fantasy – inspired by Finnish folktales

This is the Kalevala-inspired fantasy trilogy that I’ve been working on for a few years now. Book one is in its third draft, and is currently on the back burner while I’m working on other projects. I will pick this trilogy up again later this year, and when I do, I’ll use music like this classic song by the Finnish folk group Värttinä to get me into the right mindset:

I’ll also be listening to songs like this one by Sami singer Soffia Jannok, or instrumental Scandinavian folk music by Gjallarhorn.

Genre: High Fantasy – stories of sword and sorcery

For the collection of high fantasy short stories that is my next project, I need classic fantasy adventure music. Movie soundtracks are usually best for this, and of course the Lord of the Rings soundtrack is my first go-to for this:

Any kind of dramatic, fantastical music is good. Others on my playlist are great fantasy soundtracks like this one from Oz the Great and Powerful, and this mesmerizing piece by composer and vocalist Lisa Gerrard.

Genre: Historical Fiction – Depression-era old Hollywood

This is the first draft that I just completed, and blogged about last week. I’ll be launching into the second draft of it in another month or so. It’s a rather different story from the other two fantasy-related ones, and so to get me in the right mindset, I need to listen to the appropriate music. Songs and dance music by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers is always a good place to start:

Anything by George Gershwin is also good, or this unique and memorable song from the classic Depression film Gold Diggers of 1933.

So now you have a little sampling of my highly diverse writing music!

What kind of music do you write by?


4 thoughts on “Music to Write By: Genres and Music

  1. I also listen to music when brainstorming. It can be really helpful! Though, I’m not organized enough to where I make lists (but I probably should). And I love, LOVE Lisa Gerrard! She’s been a favorite of mine for years. Thanks for swinging by my blog, Grace. It’s nice to have met you. 🙂


  2. Gorgeous selections! For most of my life I found I absolutely could not write with music playing (save maybe for gentle classic tunes at a low volume), but in the past couple of years (especially since I opened my Etsy shop and started playing music during almost every product photo shoot that I’ve done for it) this has been slowly changing. I can now often write with a few different types of music in the background, including smooth jazz and Celtic, and have really been enjoying having this avenue open up for me a bit more.

    Wishing you a terrific week, sweet lady!
    ♥ Jessica


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