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Listening to music whilst writing

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Whilst reading On Writing, I noted that Stephen King likes listening to music as he does his writing. I will sometimes do the same when on the train, but that’s just to drown out some knob talking too loud on his phone. Does listening to music help you concentrate?

For me, it depends what mood I’m in, and what I’m doing. Sometimes listening to music is inspiring, and puts me in a more creative mood. But I have to align my mood with the right kind of music for that to work, and it rarely happens except by accident. I think one of the small joys in life is when pressing shuffle on your iPod magically produces a string of songs that fit your mood. But I’m normally walking when that happens.

Other times, music has to be wordless, as I can often be distracted by good lyrics (it doesn’t help that my music collection is excellent by the way). Or, at the very least, the words must be so unimportant as to be rendered meaningless, and part of the background. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way (I just said my music collection is excellent). It’s perfectly valid for some dance tracks to simply give a nod to the written word without giving it particular importance. Prodigy is a favourite.

Soundtracks are also good. Currently top of the list are The Dark Knight (contender for most loved film), and, given my recent obsession with Playstation (can’t. Stop. Buying. Games!) the Assassin’s Creed II soundtrack is also a winner.

And what does Stephen King listen to?

I work to loud music – hard-rock stuff like AC/DC, Guns ‘n Roses, and Metallica have always been particular favorites

Stephen King, On Writing

Now you know.

It’s different for everyone of course, and I’d like to know what you listen to when writing. Or is silence the preferred background? Hit the comments, folks!