Apparition Lit Recommends July 2018: Music to Keep You Writing

Music can make or break the mood. Cranking Andrew WK is great when you’re on a long run and want to keep your energy up, but it’s maybe not the most conventional choice in a massage therapy room at a high-end spa. Same goes for the tunes you play while getting words down on the page, or the songs that inspire you to get back to your project(s). Every writer writes to the beat of their own drummer. The Apparition Lit editors are here to share what they listen to, or avoid, when creating. (You can check out the Apparition Lit kick-ass Spotify playlist created by our very own Rebecca Bennett!)

Sometimes it’s fine to just listen to the birds sing and airplanes drone far above when I’m writing. Some days the trash trucks, sirens, and noisy neighbors grab my concentration and shake any thoughts of writing out of my brain. On those days I plug in the headphones and let the music flow. (BTW the dongle is horrible, the worst, so dumb, can we get a headphone port back, please?) Lyrics are a total no-go for me when I’m in the actual act of writing, they distract me. So I’ll turn on some chill classical music or go to my fav Spotify channel, Dan Gibson radio It’s pretty mellow, spa-like music that creates a nice flow.

Music that inspires is a whole different story. Writing romance/heartbreak, I lean heavily on Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughan. When I was working on a scene between opposing factions in the Sheep and Cattle wars of the late 19th century, I turned to classic cowboy music (Sons of the Pioneers, Marty Robbins, Gene Autry, etc…) to settle my mind on the dusty Great Plains, And anytime I cycle back to Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Pink Floyd or David Bowie, the worlds and emotion they create compel me to get back to my own work.

I can’t write to music. Oh, how I’ve tried. With lyrics, with no lyrics, familiar favorites, new-to-me artists, all the albums other writers recommend to me, classical, metal, hip-hop… Nope. Even chill instrumental music is too distracting. My brain wants to pay attention to the notes and not make words. So I play white noise when I write. (Right now, I’ve got “Storm” going on my Beddi alarm clock app. I guess my brain does not find distracting the ominous sound of an approaching tornado.)

The past couple weeks, I’ve been getting up at 4 am to write (with varying degrees of success/staring blankly at computer screen), and this ass-crack of dawn alarm is set to shuffle-play Rebecca’s Spotify Apparition Lit Speculative Soundtrack! It absolutely helps get me in the groove to write.  

Tacoma Lately, my go-to album for motivation is Bishop Briggs’ Church of Scars. When I sit down to write, I need high energy vocals to get started, and Bishop Briggs delivers. Dream is a particular favorite song of mine, though I enjoy the entirety of Church of Scars. I’m currently working on a novel, so I maintain a playlist of songs that create a certain ambiance. On my list are artists such as Gin Wigmore, Alex Winston, and First Aid Kit.


Featured image credit: Chris Heidenreich

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