I'm Kate Risheill. Welcome to my blog on writing.

Writing Soundtracks


Everyone has different preferences for how they write. Some write on laptops in crowded cafes buzzing with conversation, while others sequester themselves away into a quiet office or bedroom to write in isolation. Some listen to music while they write, while others prefer silence. Personally, I am someone who finds it easier to work with some background noise. However, music can be more than just background noise for writers.

Music can be inspiring, can lift our imagination up to imagine scenes of cinematic scope. In fact, some of my favorite music to write to are film scores. Film scores are specifically composed to add to the emotional impact of a movie, to bring viewers soaring up with wonder and hope or crashing down to the depths of despair. I find that writing to film scores can help me to up the emotional ante of the scenes that I am writing. Just some of the soundtracks I love include Stranger Things, Jane Eyre (2011), Westworld (2016), and Penny Dreadful.

The music for soundtracks, while certainly emotionally charged, can be distracting if the emotional pacing of your story does not match that of the soundtrack you are listening to. If I am writing a particularly complex or difficult scene, sometimes I will opt for more classical music. I particularly like Frédéric Chopin, Claude Debussy, Johannes Brahms, and Philip Glass, to name a few.

I definitely know of more than a few writers who write to more mainstream music, from rock music to the latest pop songs. I tend to find it distracting to try to write to music that has words in it. More than once I've found myself mistyping because I got distracted by whatever song I was listening to. However, if you find songs that are inspiring or find that you aren't distracted by hearing lyrics while you write, go for it! I know that listening to strictly instrumental music is not for everyone.

I listen to music to help block out other noise in my house: the cars passing on the road outside my window, my dogs barking at each other, or someone banging around the kitchen. I find that music helps me to tap into my creative side and filter out the rest of the world, if only for a little while. Music helps me to focus, but it is totally fine if writing in utter silence or amongst the chatter of a coffee shop is your thing instead. Let me know in the comments below what you like to write to!

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