Whistle While You Work

I read an article recently about someone who thought that having music playing while she wrote would help her concentration and productivity.

On the face of it, it would seem to make sense. You’re writing a creepy, suspenseful scene – a little Bach fugue is just the thing . Or Thriller, if your tastes run towards pop.

You could play something Dmitri Tiomkin-esque if you’re writing a western. Hey, it worked for Kathleen Turner’s character in Romancing the Stone. (Note to self: a future blog about writers in movies would be fun.)

If you’re writing a romantic moment between the hero and heroine you could look for a love song. I’m sure someone must have written one at some time…

Anyway, in the article, the writer spent ages loading up her i-Pod with what she thought was appropriate songs. I’ve been puzzling over this and wondering what would fit the bill. There must be a few songs that speak either directly or indirectly to the heart of the writer. Here are my choices. I hope you’ll suggest a few of your own, too.

Paperback Writer – the Beatles. The daddy of all writers’ tunes. ‘It took me years to write it won’t you take a look..?’ Oh God, yes.

Every Day I Write the Book – Elvis Costello.  ‘…Between a lover and a fighter with my pen and my electric typewriter…’ And somehow, given that it’s Elvis, you really believe he’s working on that novel. Every day.

When I Write the Book – Nick Lowe ‘The pain will be written on every page in tears…’ See. Nick knows.

Dancing in the Dark – Bruce Springsteen ‘I’m sick of sitting round here tryin’ to write this book…’ Nope. Can’t relate at all.

Writer’s Block – Just Jack (er, perhaps not the mood we’re going for…)

Words – The Bee Gees. ‘It’s only words and words are all I have to steal your heart away.’ Sniff.

Tower of Song – Leonard Cohen. ‘I was born like this, I had no choice, I was born with the gift of a golden voice…’ You may argue it’s more about living than about writing. Shame on you. Don’t you know they’re the same thing?

Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield. ‘Drench yourself in words unspoken…’ She has a way with words, does Natasha.

Storybook Story – Mark Knopfler. ‘My love is like a storybook story.’ OK, it’s not strictly speaking about writing, but who doesn’t love Mark K? And it’s the theme from The Princess Bride, written by one of my all-time favourite writers, William Goldman.

Move On – Stephen Sondheim. ‘I want to find how to get through, through to something new. Something of my own…’ I know, it’s about visual art rather than writing, but art is art and the song speaks to all of us. It tells us to stop worrying what others say about the things we create and just keep moving on. This song is my anthem.

What’s yours?


About Geri Schear

Geri Schear is an award-winning novelist, author of three Sherlock Holmes and Lady Beatrice books published by MX Publishing. Her short stories have appeared in a number of journals. For further information, see her page at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Geri-Schear/e/B00ORWA3EU
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7 Responses to Whistle While You Work

  1. niamhmary says:

    I love The Tower Of Song. I cant have any music play while I write, the words of a song seem to battle with mine. I wear headphones even sometimes, for the sealed in silence. Guess I’m a mucial philistine when I’m writing:)


  2. I like listening to music before I write. I’m a little ADD when it comes to music and writing. I’m with you on the Bruce selection. He tells a lot of great stories.


    • rycardus says:

      I have to confess I’m the same. I used to be able to listen to classical music or jazz when I worked – so long as there were no lyrics – but I find even that distracts me nowadays. I do sometimes listen to music to set my mood before I start work, or to get me excited about a day spent in front of the notebook or laptop. I just have to be careful that it doesn’t turn into a day listening to my favourite tunes instead of working though!


    • rycardus says:

      Bruce has such a way with storytelling. I’ve been lucky enough to see him in concert twice and he never fails to get me excited about my next project. I get turned on by talent, I think.


  3. Jane E says:

    Paperback Writer always makes me think of you! But I prefer a bit of Mike Oldfield myself when I’m writing. Which isn’t often. Must try harder.


    • rycardus says:

      I’ve enjoyed Tubular Bells when doing creepy scenes – sorry, it will always be theme to The Exorcist for me. Can’t say I’m very familiar with the rest of Oldfield’s work (to be honest it all sounds a bit the same to me. Shh….)


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