Mix tapes: the perfect writing playlist

Writing comes easily for me when I’mixtapesve got music that matches or enhances what I’m writing about. But I can’t just put on a radio station that plays some of my favorite tunes. While this may work for a time, I find when I’m more deliberate in my music selections, the writing is better overall.

How do I choose what music will work for each project?

There was a time when I actually made mix tapes, which then became CDs, and now has become playlists using an online program. While I still use CDs sometimes (like when I’m in the car for instance and don’t want to lose the inspiration), the online program works well since I’m usually at my computer anyway.

Here are some tips to help you create your own amazing writing playlist:

  • Genre
    • Select a genre you like and are familiar with anyway. This will make it easier to choose music you like and can sing along with, but because of your writing, you may also hear this piece in a new and interesting way
  • Tone, emotion
    • What is your piece about? Even if you haven’t written a word yet, you likely have some idea of character, goals/ motivations, scenes, and even dialogue that will appear in your story.
      • What songs enhance or support these areas? Do other songs by this artist work as well? Will this song reflect earlier or later emotion or tone of your work?
    • Character
      • What kinds of character development will happen in your story? Even the sweetest, best-behaved characters make stupid mistakes- so let the music reflect what they might have been thinking in those moments
    • Order counts
      • I don’t always do a great job with this, but I try to consider what songs would fit at the beginning, middle, and end. While you don’t want to take a large amount of time stewing over these areas, a little thought goes a long way.

Music is essential to my writing process. I have written several novels and screenplays, all of which have a soundtrack attached to them that I listened to pretty religiously as I wrote. This was sometimes to the annoyance of those around me, but as a writer, I can be a bit eccentric sometimes, right?

How do you use music (or art, poetry, or anything else) to encourage and inspire your work? Comment below!