Screenwriting : Does listening to music while writing help you? by Kyle Haines

Kyle Haines

Does listening to music while writing help you?

For me it does. I can't write with pure silence. My question for you guys is that, does this help you? I've been wondering this for a little while.

Doug Doucette

I kind of need quiet or it ends up all jumbled when it gets on paper(or on screen). usually when i write a first draft i'm just trying to get everything out of my head and then i'll clean it up later, so my mind is usually several steps ahead of my hands as it is. any noise just makes it worse.

Shawn Speake

Soundtracks that fit the story are good, but when you're stuck, silence is great… True intelligence operates in stillness and silence. - Eckhart Tolle

Doug Doucette

I definitely take music breaks but I can't do both simultaneously

Anthony Cawood

I use music to block out the TV that the family are watching, lesser of two evils and I don't find it interferes particularly... but this is definitely a 'no right answer' type of question ;-)

Amanda Toney

focus@will is a great site for concentration music!

Natalie Farst

I always have to have noise in the background. Either music or TV shows, a movie. A lot of times I will use what I have on or what I am listening to for inspiration. A storyline I came up with was inspired by November Rain from Guns and Roses and wound up being the basis for 2 main characters in my script.

Becca-Chris M

Sometimes I need silence, sometimes I need music playing. Depends what I'm working on.

Beth Fox Heisinger

I prefer complete silence when writing. :)

Shawn Speake

Does anyone else read aloud while writing?

Doug Doucette

not exactly aloud, but i read it slowly in my head as if I was reading it out loud.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Of course. :) I read dialog, or any part of a script, out loud. It's a great way to test what you've written -- hear how it sounds. I also find that reading out loud helps me better catch typos or malaprops. :) Sure, I prefer silence when writing but that doesn't mean that I am silent while doing so. lol!

LindaAnn Loschiavo

My writing world is richer for its silence.

Shawn Speake

Thanks, Beth! Just trying to hip the young buck to proper techniques! … Kyle, you heard it straight from Beth… Read everything aloud!

P.S. Arjun

Listening music never helped me while writing, but listening music when thinking about the story or creating a scene really helped. Especially, I listen music which suit the mood of the story to take myself to that mood.

Joseph Shellim

It sure can. I prefer fluid, instrumental jazz becoz it doesn't interfere with my writing thoughts and keeps the momentum.

Kevin Ryan

Ya for me it does. I don't always write with music but sometimes I do, especially if I'm struggling to get anything written that day. My choice of music will depend on the story being written and the scene I'm at in the script. While I'm on an animated comedy now my type of music is, well to simplify it, think of Guardians of the Galaxy's soundtrack.

Boomer Murrhee

I like listening to classical music with no lyrics. The more writing I do, the less important it becomes. I get easily distracted and can go off on tangents when given the opportunity.

Niksa Maric

I always write with the Music ON and read everything later, in silence. Sounds stupid but I guess it's a habit.

Liz Warner

Very much so! I pick the music to suit the story and it definitely keeps me focused on what I'm writing!

Brian Shell

Personally, I listen to music almost 24-7... and I create CD-R soundscapes that I title and date... with a certain mood free of commercials with my favorite music. What I love is when a great line is sung, and it hits the exact message I am trying to convey at that moment in my writing... so I include it... sometimes paraphrased. To me, it makes that lonely writing room so I don't feel so Alone while I create my masterpieces. Yet I also enjoy radio too... as ya never know what song will pop up next... sometimes hit and miss... yet when it hits, it resonates deeply and gets me in the writing groove. So yeah, listen on!

Shawn Speake

For APARICIO, I've been listening to the classic 70s soundtrack from The PLANET OF THE APES over and over. Jerry Goldsmith's score brings out the sickness in me!

Mary Trainor-Brigham

Once, during a Gallery Open House Crawl in Santa Fe, I was drawn into the studio of the fabulous, totemic Messenger Doll artist, Pamela Adger, because she was playing the soundtrack for The Sheltering Sky. So, every once in awhile I get a longing to play it:

Fiona Faith Ross

I have to have music. It keeps me energised. The physical effort of staying at the keyboard and putting down all the stuff that's in your head is exhausting. My body gets worn out before my mind does.

Kristopher Rickards

I use music to invoke a feeling / evoke a mood, it can be very influential to the wandering mind, yet I write in silence.

Renee Lucas Wayne

since i 'write in music' it's absolutely essential for me. when i'm writing, the perfect music for the scene will start playing in my head. i then listen to whatever that piece (over and over) as i'm developing that moment in the script. at other times i like to listen to the music my characters like to listen to!

Brian Shell

I agree with Renee LW's comment as to listening to the perfect music for a scene. Though I've taken it a step further by gathering all those songs I feel would perfectly fit each scene and actually compiling the screenplay's soundtrack... at first on cassette tapes (which made for a nice location for the Act 2 Midpoint when I'd flip the tape over)... and then on CD-R's. Though I'd make sure to number or letter them in order to locate the particular version of the soundtrack I liked best and then listen to the new version to compare and contrast. Sometimes I'll find a better song that resonates even better than the initial song I've chosen. For my first script, I had versions "A" all the way through to "O"... a nice Alpha and Omega. I try to compile the soundtrack before I finish my first draft so that as I listen to those "perfect" songs, they guide me with what I write. The issue then becomes becoming so attached to having those songs go with those scenes that I forget about how a studio may have budget issues with securing the legal rights to using those songs with those scenes... for instance, I'd really like The Rolling Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want"... but just imagine the price of securing THOSE rights... good luck. Still, I feel creating the soundtrack adds to the level of perfection in the script that I write, and now when I go back and listen to them, years later, I can see those scenes in my head. On my first script, I had a writing partner, and she'd complain, "You can see the movie, and I can't (because she didn't relate to music the same way I do)." Personally, every song unlocks a little memory box of places I've been where I listened to the song at a poignant place... which is the cool thing about music!

Justen Overlander

Silence scares me, but noise infuriates me. It's a fun dance finding the balance! If I'm writing in a coffee shop, I have the earbuds in almost 100% of the time. At home, I listen to music far less while writing. Like others have said, the scene I'm writing (or the scene I'm IN) usually tells me whether it wants me to listen to music or not.

DeMar Southard

My brain runs on DOS 3.2 -- only does one thing at a time. No multi-tasking here. Any music is a distraction that keeps me from doing anything except making dinner. Silence is golden.

Graham Giddy

With the last two novels about to complete, I have used several John Williams sound tracks. Never listen to music with lyrics, they can send you off track.

Ed Vassie

Absolutely! I like to make playlists of movie scores that roughly correspond to the tone of the scene or sequence I'm trying to write. When I'm doing a rewrite though, total silence.

William Martell

I do exactly what Ed does: I use film scores that fit what I'm writing, so it's like the soundtrack to the film.

Dominic Carver

I always listen to music when I write. I find it distracts that part of my brain that keeps saying, 'Go on Facebook for an hour or two, no one will notice if you're not writing'

Joe Bitonti

I love listening to music for inspiration. I listen to a lot of soundtracks, especially when I'm driving and a lot of times a particular scene will be inspired by the piece I'm listening to. I work out plot ideas and problems when driving and listening to music.

Myrtle Washington

My daughter thinks so. I personal like peace and quiet.

Richard Allis

I listen to music all the time. It blocks out all other noise. I couldn't write in silence. Sometimes the right song will stir my emotions so I can put my personal emotions into a character.

Adam Jeremy Saris

I try to play the shot in my head with a sound track .

Eve Morton

I have to listen to classic rock like Aerosmith or Pink Floyd while writing. I write Shane Black inspired action so the music gets me in the mood for murder, mayhem, and destruction. :-)

Kenneth David Swenson

yes...I also try to design either project specific or theme specific playlists on services like Spotify to get the feel of whats being written.

William Lewis

Can anyone give me any suggestions on how to shoot a scene when both characters are in motion, or moving at he same time.

Graham Giddy

I have been following a few Chinese directors lately, they love the above head shots from a good distance away, think about it, it does work.

Renat Hamzin

In my case it's related to subject. When I have method, completed story, script plan, and only need to form it as script - music helps well it's like coffee, etc. When I start something serious, my only need is deep concentration and I usually try to abstract from anything cuz it distracts.

Don Dobrez Jr

I almost always listen to music, and it is almost always film scores. My current screenplay has been written while listening to the same score over and over again. It perfectly captures the style and range of emotions I am trying to get across in my story, and helps me to visualize each scene, character, and action point. I also have my favorite pieces from various other scores that I listen to just to get in the right frame of mind. Sometimes for dialogue writing I will go into complete silence mode. I guess in the end its about what works best for YOU.

Cherie Grant

It does help, but I dont always listen. Depends on my mood and what i'm writing. I have a LOT of film soundtracks to help with different types of scenes.

Fiona Faith Ross

I'd like to revive this thread. What do you listen to when writing (if anything)? I find it hard to write in silence and "they say" background music can provide a useful level of stimulation for the brain.

I can work in silence but I prefer to listen to something. When writing genre, I might listen to music that fits it. I pick stuff off YouTube because they're often a couple of hours long. I like Tibetan Singing Bowls best, or Reiki Healing Music, or Rock 'n Roll. How about you?

Jody Ellis

I like some kind of background noise, sometimes music (Prince, rap, hip-hop, r&b from the 70s) or sometimes I'll put the tv on. I like a show buzzing in my ear while I write.

William Martell

Yes. I always pick film scores that match whatever scene I'm writing... so it's like the soundtrack to the movie in my head (and soon to be on the "page").

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Yes, it does. I listen to jazz mostly. But last week while writing, I had a Joni Mitchell marathon.

Dan Guardino

I find listening to music helps me and I do prefer instrumentals.

Tony Cella

It depends on the script. For a gritty roller derby script, I listened to 90's-00's alternative--Veruca Salt, Nirvana, Republica, Elastica and Letters to Cleo--and Fu Manchu, a stoner-metal band. When I'm writing horror, Warren Zevon, The Offspring's earlier work and darker punk rock. For a stoner-ish comedy, I listened to goofy pop-punk bands from short lived record labels and the soundtrack to Jet Set Radio Future.

Often times I don't have the opportunity to listen to music because I'm writing in a break room on lunch. If I put on my headphones, I'll become to engrossed in my work and lose track of time. In that case, I either put myself in the scene as a floating eyeball of sorts or imagine my ideal soundtrack.

Anthony Cawood

I have an alternative to music, I tend to have something on TV from the genre I'm writing in... something I'm familiar with so I don't need to actually 'watch' it and not something too close in content to what I'm writing so that it doesn't bleed through... I figure if I'm writing a movie I may as well watch one...

Amanda Toney

Love that this thread is re-activated. I always listen to music when I'm working. Helps me concentrate completely.

Stephen Foster

I listen to Mozart when I'm writing!

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