The Q: What’s The Best Song to Listen to When Writing?

The QWhen I’m writing, I usually have music on in the background. Sometimes it’s classical. Sometimes it’s pop. Sometimes it’s a sad song like REM’s “Everybody Hurts” and sometimes it’s an upbeat song like OK GO’s “Here We Go Again.” Sometimes it’s an energetic song like “Nitro” by The Offspring and, on occasion, it’s something silly like the theme to “Growing Pains.” I try to match the music to my writing mood. It seems to help the words flow.

But if I were forced to listen to only one song for the rest of my writing life to find inspiration, it’d most definitely be “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin” by Colin Hay (yes, that Colin Hay who came from a land down under to sing for Men At Work). I was originally turned onto the song when it appeared on a fairly emotional episode of “Scrubs” and something about it just clicked with me. The lyrics inspire me to look past my failures and shortcomings and strive to be better—a better father, a better husband, a better person, a better writer—because greatness lies ahead. It’s motivating and beautiful all at once.



So the Q for you is this: If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your writing career, what would it be and why? Is it based on the type of fiction you write? Is it just a melody that keeps you inspired? Post it in the comments section. I’d love to listen to songs that inspire others.

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19 thoughts on “The Q: What’s The Best Song to Listen to When Writing?

  1. excelsamaleia

    Awake, by Godsmack. It’s a rock song that suits the fiction fantasy I’m writing. It keeps me more than motivated, it slaps me in the face every time I stall. It’s like my macchiato that keeps me wired and with it, I write with such speed and ferocity it fills nearly a dozen pages with a madness beyond obsession. Underneath the turmoil boils up a storm of fire and fury- all aspects of the type of writing I hope to capture. When the music ends, I exhale, glad that the ride is over. Thankful for the pages it has given me. Then I press ‘play’ again.

  2. Cassie

    The album Unearthed by E.S. Posthumus gets a lot of play on my iPod. I find it so inspiring I even have a Pandora station set to play similar music.

  3. writerstudio08

    I normally listen to Sara Bareilles Music, especially (Uncharted, King of Anything, and Breathe Again). I also listen to Christina Perri (Jar of Hearts, Bluebird, Arms, and A Thousand Years). There’s also Joni Mitchell, Sarah McLachlan, Tyrone Wells, and “We Don’t Eat” by James Vincent McMorrow.

  4. ptrwmn

    Ok, so this seems boring in comparison. But there is always so much sound in my life, what with two young kids and a husband. As well, I talk and listen to others in my day job as a therapist; so the only thing I can listen to is brown noise from a website called Simply Noise. They also have white noise and something called pink noise. I find the brown noise relaxes me and allows me to close my mind to distractions and open it fully to my writing.
    That said, sometimes music inspires me to write something. But when I sit down to write it, bring on the noise! Brown noise that is.

  5. Random_Sample

    Rush – 2112
    Oppression, hope, redemption and finally validation.
    Neil Peart is a brilliant writer. Rush are awesome musicians.
    Very intellectual.
    If you are a metal head like me, albums: Iron Maiden -Caught Somewhere In Time or Megadeth – Rust In Peace, keep me inspired.
    These are not typical metal bands, and they have some cool things to say.
    Up the irons.

  6. Naomi

    The song would be “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meatloaf. That song has a bit of everything that could be background music while I write. It’s like a rock opera all rolled up into one song The lyrics, and the singing, are passionate, ambivalent, very human.

  7. Spitten

    Yanni Live at the Acropolis: Keys to Imagination. I write christian thrillers and dramas, but no matter what I’m writing, the sounds and swells of any Yanni song inspires me. No words to jumble with my own words – just titillating orchestra music.

  8. Deb Fennell

    The Dream by Michael Franks. Any Michael Franks song is great for listening to when I write, but the lyrics of The Dream remind me how powerful good writing can be so the song inspires me to want to write something as good!

  9. kenposempai

    Cool song! Thanks for sharing that. If I had to pick only one…Nickleback, “If today was your last day.” It speaks to not leaving things unfinished and living as fully as possible now. I think many of us procrastinate on important dreams, or telling people we care about how we feel. One day, I’m going to…..

  10. rob akers

    I am glad that you asked this question. I am writing my first novel and I am so green that I don’t even know that I don’t know squat. In real life, I am so blessed to have a supportive best friend who is also my beautiful wife and two great kids. I have a great job, I live in a wonderful community and I found this website which as taught me so much. My problem is finding angst that is fortunately lacking in my life. I found my novel in a song, Shinedown’s “The Crow and the Butterfly.” I have listened to that song a couple of times while writing but I found that I get caught up in the negative emotion, the heartbreak and the agony of loss. I counter that by listening to Five Finger Death Punch. I have found they have the appropriate amount of aggression, anger, emotional issues and fast paced music that keeps the words pouring out of my mind. The hard edged music constantly reminds me to keep the pace fast, hard hitting and when in doubt to introduce more conflict in the lives of my characters. Thanks to everyone who as responded to this question, I will check out everything else out there and keep my mind open to new musical choices.

  11. Tim

    Great question. It’s so dependent on the mood that it’s tough to pick just one, but here goes…
    Um…well, I guess…ironically, Turn the Page…Seger or Metallica version. I just love that song. Tribulations of an artist. Striving for success, and even when it’s upon you, working your @$$ off to keep it, and the realization that life still is a struggle even in the midst of it. But that you have to keep on going…keep on trucking…if you want to make it. Tiny rewards for immense amounts of work that accumulate until you finally have something to be really proud of…kind of like writing a novel.
    Yeah…totally no pun intended but hey, it works for me – “You’re writing’s so hot, makes me wanna Turn the Page!

  12. dfly

    Despite its association with weddings, I find Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major” helpful when I write. The ebbs and flows of the song remind me that I need to vary intensity levels and the occasional increases in tempo remind me that I should do the same in my writing. I find that songs with words can be distracting when I write, so I tend to stick to instrumental music.

  13. hobee1971

    I honestly listen to mostly LDF, and others by 100 Monkeys when writing. They are the band that inspired me to begin again. I also usually add some Tom Waits and a few other indie bands besides 100 Monkeys to round out the playlist. I’ve met the band 100 Monkeys on several occasions and left each one feeling as if I were rejuvenated. Great bunch of guys, incredible musicians and their live shows will leave you wanting to see them every day!

  14. Writer_Girl

    I usually write action/adventure or thriller suspense for a YA audience, so I most often listen to action movie soundtracks. In that respect, I have a favorite song, as well as a favorite album. The best song, I think, is “Freedom Battle” by Michael W. Smith. The best album, by far, is the Star Trek (2009 movie) soundtrack. So, if I could pick an album, Star Trek. Song, Freedom Battle.

    1. Writer_Girl

      Oh, yeah, I forgot to say why I would choose those songs.On Freedom Battle, you can hear the beginning, the climax, and then the sad strings at the end. It works no matter what the scene. The Star Trek soundtrack has a large range of songs–sad, celebration-worthy, action-packed… you name it, it’s there!

  15. JanetRuth

    Can there be a best song? H-m-m-m. today I listened to Michael Buble`…Dream a little Dream of Me. I love listening to Don Williams or Jim Reeves too. I am also on a Dierks Bentley kick…as well As Alison Krauss…okay, I don’t really have one fav’, I have a lot of fav’s:)

  16. Rufina

    I Usually listen to She Didn’t Have Time by Terri Clark when I’m writing as for the longest time there was just my son and I in my family and I always seemed there was never time to write and If it was the only song I could listen to for the rest of your writing career I would because I still feel like I never have enough time in my day to write.

    1. Rufina

      After writing this comment, Terri Clark came and did a concert where I live and my youngest sister surprised me with tickets. I have now been listening to her new album “Roots and Wings” ever since and she re-recorded a song by Trooper-We’re Here for a Good Time that I listen to non-stop when I write now or Northern Girl by Terri Clark.


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