A Drift of Quills are talking to the Head Muse (Department of Music) to find out what—if anything—helps promote the mood to write or inspire scenes, moods, or any other parts of our imagination. What kind of tunes do you think we listen to? We share a lot of things in common; is music one of them?

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks

Ten Tunes That Rock My Writing

I write better when there is music playing.

I dream better.

Thanks to my mom and older sisters, I grew up listening to a wonderful variety of music. Sadly, not a one of us can play any instrument but the stereo. It’s a shame, really. Music is powerful stuff. Being able to play music gives you an even better boost than listening to it, but listening can:

  • Reduce stress and depression (and lower heart disease)
  • Improve your verbal IQ
  • Give you the chills (!!)
  • Improve brain functions and actually make you smarter
  • Boost your memory (I’d hate to think how poorly I’d be doing if I didn’t listen to music. My memory is completely random access…)
  • Boost your mood

Check out these two articles for more interesting information about the affects of listening to music:

How Listening to Music Benefits Your Brain


10 Magical Effects Music Has On the Mind

And Helen Sanders, chief editor at Health Ambition, talks about using music—and some other techniques as well— to focus in her article here: How to Improve Concentration and Focus in Your Life.

What Kind of Music Do I Like?

A Drift of Quills are talking to the Head Muse (Department of Music) to find out what—if anything—helps promote the mood to write or inspire scenes, moods, or any other parts of our imagination.Just like with my reading and writing, I gravitate to certain genres of music. When I’m writing (or dreaming!), that selection narrows even further.

I need music with no words—unless the words are in a language I don’t understand. Music with depth. Music with passion. Lisa Gerard is fantastic for her vocals and for her haunting melodies. Very moody. Another of my favorites is ES Posthumus. They produced some amazing, epic songs, and when I’m not writing, hearing them tends to make me dance.

Soundtracks from movies and games often fit the bill, and why not? They’ve been created for moods. I’ve been asked if they distract me or suggest scenes from the original context. The answer is no. I don’t watch the movies often enough to be able to connect a song to a scene, and some of them I haven’t seen (or played) at all. Weird? Maybe I am!

If you imagine that I have a pretty big library of Writing Music, you’d be right. My playlist is 1.4 days long.

572 delicious songs and growing.

Choose Ten…?

How on earth do I choose just ten??? That’s almost as bad as choosing my favorite book.

So I started playing my list for the express purpose of noting and jotting down my favorites. Nothing jumped out at me at first. They’re all good, mind, but I was looking for the special ones! And then I realized that hours had gone by and I hadn’t written down a thing! It wasn’t because I didn’t like them, but because they make such great background music that I don’t necessarily notice them while they’re working away, inspiring scenes in my head.


I suppose if I were going to do this properly, I would have to make separate lists for separate moods: intense music for energetic scenes, really rousing music for battles, sentimental melodies for emotional scenes, and so on.

My playlist is not divided into moods, and I find that segueing from one type to another while I am writing doesn’t put me off at all. If I’m well into the mood of the scene the house could fall down around me and I wouldn’t notice!

The Music: Ten Pieces from the Longer List

So then, here is a too-short selection of my favorites:

  1. Reminiscence, Esprit Orchestra – Silk
  2. Pompeii, E.S. Posthumus  – Unearthed
  3. The Sons of Mithras, DaVinci’s Demons – Bear McCreary
  4. Nineveh, E.S. Posthumus  – Unearthed
  5. The Pilgrim Road, Harry Gregson Williams – Kingdom of Heaven
  6. Solace, Lisa Gerrard – Black Opal
  7. Ask the Mountains, Vangelis – Voices
  8. Space Weaver, Lisa Gerrard – The Silver Tree
  9. Achilles Leads the Myrmidons, James Horner – Troy Soundtrack
  10. Extraction Point, Hans Zimmer – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

You can find these Robin Rockin’ selections at Spotify: Muses (Department of Music), or further explore her inspirations on her Pinterest board Writing: Music.

I talked about a few other ideas for staying creative (including listening to music!) here in “Ways to Stay Creative.”


“P.S.Author of A Hero’s Curse (The Unseen Chronicles Book 1)
Parker’s website

Imagine a busy journalist’s bullpen, with phones ringing, reporters talking, laughing and yelling, screens flashing, and papers occasionally flying. I can write there. A busy mall, with the flurry of shopping and eating. I can write there. A quiet office, with nothing but the occasional hum of the air conditioner or the click of the printer. I can write there. So long as the environment doesn’t demand my personal attention and intervention, I can write. (It’s harder to write at home with the boys running around my desk – they aren’t just noise. They necessitate intervention).
So when it comes to music, I can write to a lot of things. Pandora Radio might be tuned to a Mumford & Sons or Lumineers station, or country, or Christian radio. Like many writers, I do enjoy instrumental music. Something with a cello is sure to be listened to with favor.
Then there are a few select songs that I turn on, not as background noise, but as a part of my writing process. Songs that run through my blood and sometimes even shape the story as I go…

Patricia RedingAuthor of the Oathtaker Series
Patricia’s website

I thoroughly enjoy having music playing while I write. It can create such an emotional environment. Sometimes it’s presence makes for the difference between my simply feeling something internally as I write it—and actually laughing out loud—or perhaps even weeping. I find that my tastes tend…

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How do you use music?
What’s your favorite music to play while you’re writing/reading/studying?