Writing Wednesday: Music Soothes the Writing Beast

Posted by on Jan 22, 2014 in Writing Life | 3 comments

Going to try something new for a few weeks and see how it goes. I’m going to try to post something about writing every Wednesday. It might be links to good advice or exercises, stuff I learned at writer camp, or something else entirely, but always related to writing.

This week I’m going to talk about background music. Some writers are purists. They need to be one hundred percent immersed in their writing world in order for the ink to flow. That’s fine. If you’re one of those folks, more power to you in your cone of silence. Me, I need some music.

Generally I find it best to not use music with words because I tend to sing along, and if I’m singing I can’t write. That limits my choices pretty severely. Aside from the usual classical masters, I’ve found that movie soundtracks work very well for me because they generally last as long as one sitting of writing for me. I’m going to list a few of my favorites and why I love them so much for writing.

1) Amelie

If you’ve never watched this movie, you should go out and get a copy right now. I’m not kidding. You can read my review of it here. This isn’t about the movie though, this is about the soundtrack. The music is unique and lovely. There are instruments you don’t hear much anymore, and even an old Victrola playing in the background at one point. Just a great soundtrack that I listen to often, and not just when I’m writing.

2) Conan the Barbarian

Basil Poledouris was the man. He did quite a few awesome soundtracks in his day, and I’d recommend any of them really, but the Original Conan is my favorite. The music is heavy with drums and horns, and just has a powerful, aggressive feeling to it. I love to write fight scenes while listening to this one.

3) Master and Commander

Another great and underrated movie that you should see if you haven’t yet! The soundtrack is very nautical and gives off a great pirate vibe. There are quite a few songs that have words (sea shanties in particular) but they don’t hurt my writing experience much.

4) The Last of the Mohicans

This one has melodies that will haunt you. I write faster, more emotional scenes when it’s on.

5) Firefly

I had a hard time choosing a fifth soundtrack for inclusion here because there are so many that I love. (I may in fact end up doing a follow-up post with another five selections.) I ended up choosing Firefly because it is the one most dissimilar to the others. A little more western flair and upbeat than my other selections.

That’s all for this episode. I hope I’ve introduced you to some ear candy you didn’t know about. If you’ve got something you love to listen to while writing, please share! I’m always on the hunt for new music to write by.

Hearts and puppies,



  1. Ah, a fellow music-writer! I LOVE Last of the Mohicans for writing. Especially “Promontory.” That song is so perfect for the romantic scenes. One of my other favorites is PacRim (NOT for the romantic scenes, to be clear…) The Eagle is also amazing.

  2. I’m surprised at how many people need to write in complete silence. I just can’t do it. I need something in the background or I go bonkers.

    Promontory is my favorite track from Last of the Mohicans! I haven’t checked out the Pacific Rim soundtrack yet. I’ll have to give it a listen and see if it will work for me.

    • If you love LOTM you might *really* like The Eagle soundtrack. Meh as a movie but the music is amazing, strings and chanting and I wish Atli Ovarsson would get tons more work because he writes gorgeous music.

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