This guest post is by Melissa Muhlenkamp. In addition to being a close member of this community, Melissa is the author of the Markram Battles series. She is a science fiction and fantasy aficionada who probably wastes too much time on Pinterest. Whenever she isn’t writing, you can find her geeking out over a book or playing multitask with her kids. You can connect with her though her website, follow her on Twitter (@mcmuhlenkamp), or chat with her on Facebook.

I don’t know about you, but I truly believe that whoever said, “The real problem with reality is the lack of background music,” was really onto something.

music for writers

Music for writers. Photo by Jesus Solano (creative commons)

We all love music, no exceptions (unless you are some sort of alien from a deaf planet, and even then, that’s pushing it). Music enhances everything: movies, showers, pool parties, workouts, spring cleanings, and even relaxation. It cannot be denied. Music stimulates our psyche.

Unleash The Muse-ic Within

As writers I believe music is one of our most powerful tools. Melodies can ignite our imagination and trigger the creative muse we so zealously try to find.

Granted, writing shouldn’t be dependent on the shifting winds of the Goddess of inspiration. Nevertheless, the motivation music brings into a project can neither be ignored nor denied. On the contrary, it needs to be recognized, harnessed, and unleashed.

Connect To The Visual Side of a Song

There is also something about musical stimulation that produces a very real response in our brains. It can create a specific emotion, a specific idea, a specific image.

For me, this is where the true power of music lies. Music gives me vision, and for me, translating the vision of a story into words is the art of writing.

Follow The Groove

I recently won a contest where writers had to create an original superhero based on a song by the Motion Picture Advertising House, Audiomachine. It was such an incredible experience.

I am used to using music to inspire my writing. To be honest, I can’t imagine writing without its stimulating company. But seeing this as a collaborative effort was more enlightening than I could have ever imagined. The variety of stories and the different ways in which writers executed this idea left me baffled.

Even though the song was the same, the end stories couldn’t have been any more diverse. All of the writers involved followed the groove of their own imaginations and assimilated the melody differently. Therefore, the end products were unique to each of us.

Don’t Hold Back The Jam

Whenever I purposefully use music to inspire any given project, I follow two golden rules that never fail in harnessing its full potential. Rule number one, listen. I close my eyes and focus on the melody alone. I don’t worry about writing at this point. I just quiet my mind and let every thought mull over the song, its highs and lows, and whatever response it produces in me. Rule number two, don’t try to control the flow of ideas. In other words, I don’t hold back the jam. Instead, I let it guide me. Once the story takes shape, I open my eyes and begin typing.

Exploit The Influence

Music has the power to infuse life into our writing. Call me crazy, but I truly believe this. I may be the type of writer that takes this concept to the extreme. After all, I actually have categorized playlists based on literary genres. You can laugh. I’m not kidding. The point is, you don’t have to take it as far as I do to exploit the influence of music. Dancers do it through their physical movements. Writers can do it through the flow of words.

Have you ever tried using music to stimulate your creativity? Do you have a preferred genre?


Take the next fifteen minutes to write a story based on the following song, “End Of An Era” by Zack Hemsey. And don’t forget to use the two golden rules. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section.

This article is by a guest blogger. Would you like to write for The Write Practice? Check out our guest post guidelines.

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