Should You Listen to Music while Writing?

A recent report from the British Psychological Society made me think about how what I listen to affects my concentration and creativity:

I constantly have music of all kinds playing through earbuds into my noggin. As I type this, I’m enjoying Tan Dun’s soundtrack to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

I like a calm start to the day, but I’ll move onto livelier tunes as I read my emails. I live at a very noisy location, on the flight path to Newquay airport, next to a car workshop and a petrol station, so knowing what sound is going to happen next in music is better than being startled by sudden beeps, bangs and engines revving.

I listen to rock, heavy metal, folk, rap, New Age, C & W, soundtracks and world music…vaguely choosing albums saved to my hard drive that suit the task in hand. I just found five new literary agents to query this afternoon, so I may well use Metallica to get in the right frame of mind!

When editing a manuscript, I tend to choose something quieter, more contemplative and even intricate—such as Miles Davis or John Coltrane. The rhythm of music sometimes affects the pacing of my sentences, how they sound when read aloud. I found a CD in my local charity shop last week, by a 17th-century composer of lute music called Andrea Falconieri.

I’d never heard of him, but it turned out his baroque music was ideal for composing a synopsis of my novel!

Do you listen to music while writing or editing?

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