The website of the historical fiction writer.

Music and Writing

When I look over the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ bits of writers’ websites, one question that usually appears is ‘do you listen to music while you write?’ The answer, as you may have guessed, is different for each writer. Some say they have to live in complete silence as if they’re in a monastry or (public) library. They believe that the slightest sound, let alone symphony, will completely destroy their fragile concentration. It would be like charging around a prestigious art school with spray paint cans and a chainsaw, causing irrepairable damage to masterpieces before they are even finished. This is fine. Some people thrive in the sanctuary that the silence brings. Even I do sometimes.

However, there is the other extreme. Some people like the chaos and noise that comes with full blown Heavy Rock. You too can write your magnum opus with the explosive hedonism that only Rock can bring (see how I write Rock in capitals?) raging in the background. I myself have done this. Only the other day I tried to write my novel with the support of AC/DC. When I was studying my degree I would do all my reading in the days leading up to Deadline Day. The day before (later two days) I would write up my notes while playing all of Queen’s albums to see how many I would get through before I finished (some discs got played twice as the word counts got longer).

Now I’m a bit older, I’ve discovered how classical music is fantastic. They say Mozart is helpful for children, well it can work for adults too. Film music is even more helpful. When I wrote In the Shadows of the Gods I found the music for Lord of the Rings and Gladiator to be good as they place you there. The 3-CD boxset of Classic FM at the Movies is another. Writing science fiction? Try Star Wars or Tron. Today I’ve listened to the soundtrack to Wings of Desire before the Brit Awards came on. Sometimes composers from the countries you write about can be useful: Tchaikovsky for Russia, Beethoven for Germany, Grieg for Norway, etc.

Anyway, Happy Pancake Day! Tune in tomorrow for an example of how I (try to) cook pancakes.

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