The Ultimate Playlist to Get You In The Writing Mood

Now, I’m not one of those writers who can listen to music while he writes (I need absolute focus), but I am one of those writers who sometimes needs a little music to get him in the right “writing mood.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

Music is the fastest shortcut to the human heart.

Music can help set the right mood for a scene or it can get you inspired to create. Lastly, listening to a musician speak the words that have been running around in your own head for days is very therapeutic. The process let’s you unpack your mind into that song, so that when you press “stop” and begin to write, your mind is clear and ready to create.

That’s why, instead of recommending more books today, I thought I’d recommend some great songs that I think will get your creative sparks to fly:

Magic in Me by B.O.B. featuring Rivers Cuomo

Writing can become routine, so sometimes you need a little pick-me-up to remind you that writing is supposed to be fun. Don’t feel creative today? Remember: you always have the magic in you.

Buster Vodoo Rodrigo y Gabriela

Writers love songs that don’t have lyrics. Why? Because then you can let the song become the “musical score” for whatever project you’re currently working on. So let Rodrigo y Gabriela’s frantic flourishes get your novel’s musical score started today.

Don’t Forget by Brett Dennen

Writers have to go at it alone a lot of the time, and that’s why it’s useful to have a comforting voice in your ear, giving you encouragement. If you’re looking for that comforting voice today, then let Brett Dennen sing you a nice, little, writers lullaby.

The Cave by Mumford and Sons

Can a song be both mournful and inspiring? Yes, it can. The refreshing juxtaposition between absolute despair and extreme hopefulness in The Cave seems to do something to the creative mind. The song refreshes your creativity, tickles it, and nudges it to go out and play.

Cuando Canto by Ozomatli

Writers often need to be reminded of the bigger picture. Why? Because they tend to forget just how NECESSARY they are in the bigger scheme of things. But the truth is, your writing DOES matter. If you don’t believe me, listen to Ozomatli and let their hopeful song remind you why you started this whole project in the first place.

Dumb it Down by Lupe Fiasco

These days you can’t escape the message from “experts” telling you to DUMB down your writing for your readers. If you’re annoyed by people who want to shrink the English Language down to “George Orwell size,” then you might want to listen to this song by Lupe Fiasco. In the song he stands up for his own right to use “big words”–and let them slip off his tongue like silk.

What I Got by Sublime

No one can blend zen philosophy into regular, every day life like Sublime. This song is about the singer lighting a cigarette, putting shoes on his feet, and realizing he’s broke. Literally. But in all the simplicity and normalcy of modern everyday life, the singer uncovers a universal truth: that love is all he really needs. Let Sublime remind you that the most important element you need as you set to do your work today is that other four-letter word.

Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles

I don’t think I’m the only writer that uses The Beatles to get in the mood to write. They are fantastic storytellers, and the images they create with this particular song, with that slight yearning at the back of their voices, sure puts a writer in the mood to create some compelling characters.

Me Vale by Maná

Is fear of criticism stopping you from writing today? Well then, turn up this song by Maná and dance to your heart’s content.  Show those critics that you don’t care at all what they think of you. Then dust yourself off, and get right back to business.

The Greatest Man That Ever Lived by Weezer

Did you feel like the draft you were working on totally sucked today? Did you get rejected by another publisher? Or has your published book been relegated to the back of the bookstore, next to those “tween” journals with all the hearts and unicorns on the cover? Ready to give up on this whole writing thing? Okay, but before you do, turn up this song by Weezer and I promise you’ll be back to that laptop in no time.

much “and if you don’t like it, you can shove it. But you don’t like it, you love it.”

Ollin

What songs put you in the “writing mood”? Share them with us in the comments below.

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46 comments on “The Ultimate Playlist to Get You In The Writing Mood

  1. indowaves says:

    I love music and so it becomes mandatory for me to love this post🙂 Plus I am a writer as well. Another reason why I was compelled to read this post!

    Want a proof that I love music.Just have a look at my previous post:

    http://indowaves.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/i-am-hindi-movie-songs-addict/

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you loved the post! Yes music is wonderful. I used not be a big music fan, but now I can’t live without it!

  2. Christina says:

    I love great movie soundtracks that focus on classical music (like Angels and Demons, with Joshua Bell’s violin solo). Recently, I’ve come to love a group called Wakey!Wakey!

  3. Marcia says:

    Ollin: I love this post and your suggested songs are ones I’ve never listened to, but will now. I can always use a little more inspiration. I’ve not used much music to get me going, except once when I sought out a music video of 1940s music, since that’s the era in which my story is set. so, thanks for the suggestion…just one problem, your links don’t work. You may have to go back and grab them again. Meantime I’ll go to http://www.youtube.com and search the song names to listen to them. Thanks again for writing on this topic!

    • Ollin says:

      They don’t? Are you sure it’s not your browser? The links work fine for me.

      Anyone else having trouble with them?

      There are some that don’t allow you to play them on wordpress. There’s no way to get around that. The music companies are starting to infiltrate youtube and will restrict their play on some sites. Unfortunately one of those sites is wordpress.😦

      • clarbojahn says:

        They work if you come to the site of ‘courage2create’ not from your email ed posts. The links are just the html code. thank you for some new music. I haven’t heard any of these.

  4. Steve Davis says:

    Thanks for sharing this. A good place to get writing prompts is from song lyrics. I type in “lyrics” in Google and then get a bunch of sites with lyrics to songs. Download a bunch of these, print them out, and then go through them with yellow highlighter. You’d be surprised at the ideas you can get. Keep up the excellent blog.

    Steve B. Davis

  5. Maggie says:

    For me it depends on what kind of a scene I’m writing. I always have some kind of “soundtrack” for my WiP. For fight scenes, Linkin Park is pretty good. For romantic scenes, maybe something slower… etc.

  6. Darlene Steelman says:

    Great post! I listen to everything from funk, to hair bands to classic rock to heavy metal. It always depends on what my next article or blog entry is going to be and I listen to what I feel will inspire me..

    If it is some sort of rant, I listen to Slayer, Lamb Of God or Testament.

    If it is a meditation, I listen to soft rock or 80’s ballads.

    If it is an article, I listen to classic rock.

    I love music, so I pretty much listen to it all day long (except when I am watching sports or Criminal Minds).

    Thanks again..

    • Ollin says:

      Great picks! As the years pass the more and more I listen to music. I’m not sure why that is, but maybe its because life tends to get harder and you need some more music to pump you up.

  7. Cities of the Mind says:

    First off, dude, love your taste in music, seriously.

    I Got the Magic is definitely one I play a lot right now, but I use music to sort of hack my mood of the moment while I’m writing so it’s hard to call up a playlist. While I’ve been writing this morning:

    Marchin’ On by One Republic
    Royal Blue by Cold War Kids
    Sprawl II by Arcade Fire
    When They Come for Me by Linkin’ Park
    The Rain by Swell Season
    Carrion Crow by Two Gallants
    Generator^First Floor by Freelance Whales

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks Connor. Thanks for the recommendations! I have to check out Arcade Fire. Been meaning to ever since they got the grammy.

      • Cities of the Mind says:

        Do it. All I can say is they deserve it. We Used to Wait, Intervention, Modern Man, City With No Children are all fantastic, but it’s hard to go wrong with them.

  8. […] The Ultimate Playlist to Get You in the Writing Mood by Ollin Morales […]

  9. One word: Live365.com. I will slap in the words “video game soundtracks” and off to Nerd Land I go! If I need house music to keep me going, I’ll slap that suggestion in the search box and boom! I’m moving to the beat. As always, great post! Checking out “Dumb It Down” later…read this comment from a person on Youtube:

    Oh man, where do i start about this song… well for starters, this is lyrically one of the best songs out there. it took me at least 6-10 years to fully understand exactly what he was saying, and i’m a P.h.D in English!

  10. CTKevinK says:

    I tend to listen to the different radio “stations” available online since there is no way for me to fit all of my CD music onto my laptop and I have no other way to play my CDs at the moment.

    Accuradio @ accuradio.com has every type of music you could wish for, depending on my mood is how I select what I listen to – could be jazz or celtic or my favourite “Motel California” which plays California rock from the 80s. I also recently discovered pandora.com which allows you to set up personal radio stations using bands you like. Pandora is free only for 40 hours per month though.

    Can’t work without music.

  11. Thank you for sharing Ollin. Music and the lyrics usually do create a spark in me and have me thinking for hours and help me see imagery. There was a time when I could only write when after listening to rock and then after listening to hip hop but now I have learned to see that my inspiration to write comes from: time, place and mood (just wrote a post on this). I can control time and place and now I use music to create the mood I need to write. I love your selection Ollin: the Beatles, BOB and Lupe Fiasco are definitely great for inspiration. My favorite songs from them are Paper back writer (Beatles), superstar (Lupe Fiasco) and airplanes (BOB).

  12. karrijustina says:

    Great playlist – I agree that I often need instrumental-only music so the lyrics don’t get in the way while I’m writing. This is super dorky, but my all-time favourite writing playlist is anything from Bear McCreary’s dramatic Battlestar Galactica soundtracks – he’s a genius composer and very creative, using instruments and techniques from all over the world. Definitely gets me in the right headspace.

    • Ollin says:

      Welcome to the dorkiest of all blogs. I love BSG, all my readers know this because I insist on using Frak to replace the other four-letter word in my posts. LOL. Please keep the BSG references coming. By the way, I love that soundtrack to. Do you know where to get that music? Sometimes I have trouble finding tv and movie soundtracks on Pandora. Maybe if I just plug in Bear McCreary’s name?

  13. Ana says:

    Great picks! I can’t think of a specific song, but I usually feel inspired and energized when I listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and No Doubt. As for actual writing time, I might enjoy some classical music or just quiet. Quiet time is rare in a hectic household, so I am learning to write whenever I get a moment!

    • Ollin says:

      Classical music really gets the creative muscles going. When they play it at cafe’s and I’m working there, it always gets me pumped to write.

      • Ana says:

        And BTW, your blog is such an amazing resource for writers. I’ve been reading through some of the archives and there is so much helpful information here. Thanks for being honest about your writing journey as many of us feel the same way!

        • Ollin says:

          Aw, thank you so much! I really try my best to make it so. I think what makes my blog so successful is that I am literally in YOUR shoes. I am my own reader in a way, what I need to learn, most of you want to learn, too, and it becomes this kind of team work thing. I share, you share, and as a team maybe we can both make it to the finish line!

  14. Hey Ollin,

    Followed you over here from your guest post on Cat’s Eye.

    I wrote almost all my college speeches listening to disco and funk music. Nailed all the speeches. Music gets the junk out of our heads so the good stuff can flow in and groove with the beat.

    There’s a great 1965 movie staring Patty Duke called “Billie.” She beats the other athletes because she’s got this beat in her head. Worth watching.

    I enjoy the sounds of nature for writing, too. Birds in particular offer free symphonies for anyone who takes the time to listen.

    Thanks, Giulietta

  15. […] The Ultimate Playlist to Get You in the Writing Mood – Ollin Morales gives his recommendations. […]

  16. Great post! Just what I am doing most of the time, too. Sometimes I do need a song to get into the right mood for writing. At other times I randomly listen to music and all of a sudden the feeling for a certain scene or even for the whole theme of the book would pop up into my mind. I’m not always in the mood to listen to music while I’m writing, because finding the right song for just the scene I’m writing on is sometimes difficult and costs me too much time, thus the idea would suffer or even get lost. But I do get a lot of precious inspiration thanks to music. My favourite songs for getting the feeling for my story at the moment are: Get to France by Mike Oldfield, Cancao do Mar by Dulce Pontes (Primal Fear OST) and Elton John’s Your Song. =)

  17. Radielle says:

    I loved your post.
    I am, sadly, the type of writer who cannot write a scene without actually seeing and hearing the soundtrack to it. It can be very distracting, and is not necessarily a good thing when writing a novel. But I found that getting my hands on the actual soundtrack and playing it as I write helps me concentrate on the writing part – obviously I’m different from you on this point… Often enough, my characters even get their own theme tune.

    And music is still a better sound to work to than the sound of my children running around!

    Music I recommend: soundtracks from the movies and from video games – after all it’s the job of these music composers to help set the mood, and you can find a soundtrack for pretty much all occasions if you look hard enough. My favourites (in no particular order) are Hans Zimmer, Nobuo Uematsu, John Williams, Howard Shore, Don Davis and X-Ray Dog.

    Those I’m using at the moment:
    The Sorcerer Remix and Here Comes the King by X-Ray Dog
    One Winged Angel by Nobuo Uematsu
    Duel of the Fates by John Williams

  18. Celise Downs says:

    I’ve been a lurker on your blog for some time, soaking up all the words you write. I WISH I could listen to music or write in a crowded cafe, but I need complete silence when I write. This probably stems from the fact that, when we were little, my mom didn’t allow a radio or TV on while my older sister and I did our homework. I write YA fiction novels but have recently decided to turn my WIP YA series into a graphic novel series. So, I might be able to do the music thing with this new experience. Ironically, the MC in my YA series finds it easier to pick locks when she’s listening to the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL soundtrack. LOL.

    A music suggestion for all the other lucky writers out there who can write to get into the mood: Apocalyptica. Four Swedish guys who look they should be in a heavy metal band (think Metallica) that play cellos, one guy on the drums, and the music they create? Totally. Frakkin’ (Not a BSG fan, but I figured I’d use that word since you prefer it, too). Awesome. For the most part, it’s instrumental, but some of their music features other artists. My absolute favorite song by them is “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica. They do a lot of cover songs by that group and they sound fantastic! And, like Maggie, I’m a GINORMONGO fan of Linkin Park, too. Fav group of all time.

    • Ollin says:

      Thank you Celise!

      Haha! Already got my readers using frakkin’ even if they aren’t BSG fans. What have I unleashed into this world! Thank you for the recommendations, and like I said in this post, while I write I can’t listen to music. I need silence. Although I generally do write at cafe’s, so I guess not complete silence. Sometimes that energy actually helps me instead of hurts me. Thanks for leaving your thoughts!

  19. Melissa says:

    Enjoyed this post, as I LOVE to write and cannot get enough music!! Love that you suggested Mumford & Sons and The Beatles. 2 of my favorites.

    Glad I found your blog. Thanks!
    ~m

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