How Music Inspires Writing by Nutschell Windsor

I’ve always loved music. With the exception of heavy metal, (all that screaming tends to rip my eardrums apart) I enjoy everything from classical orchestra to hard rock.

Growing up, music was a way to understand emotions I couldn’t quite put into words. It was also a way to express, in a more socially-acceptable manner, feelings which I could no longer keep inside. It was easier to sing my heart out to Lifehouse or Matchbox Twenty, than to try and explain the emotional turmoil I was going through to concerned loved ones.

Even though I’ve long since graduated from my angst-ridden teen years, I’m still able to access those deep emotions when I need to. I play the songs that marked the milestones of my life, and I’m instantly transported to those moments as I listen to them, I remember my first kiss, my first heartbreak, my first fight with my best friend. This certainly comes in handy as I’m currently writing young adult fiction.

Music has an amazing ability to evoke emotion, and I try to harness this power in my own writing.

I log on to my Pandora online radio account before I even sit down to work. When I’m ready to write, I switch to a station that plays nothing but instrumental music or soundtracks from movies or Broadway shows. When the first strains of that piano piece, or that orchestra music comes on, my mind automatically switches to writing mode.

I also look for soundtracks or songs to fit the scenes I’m writing. When I’m working on a particularly dramatic scene, I listen to doleful songs like Jim Chappell’s “Gone.” Escala’s heart pounding “Palladio” inspires me when I’m writing a heart-pounding action sequence, and my Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Stardust soundtracks play in the background as I flesh out my fantasy worlds.

A lot of authors have been using this technique for years. Fantasy authors Sara Wilson Etienne and Jenn Reese  both have specific soundtracks for when they’re writing, as does YA author Cecil Castellucci.

Cecil even introduced me to largehearted boy, the music blog where authors can share playlists for their books. It’s a great site to discover new songs, and I always have a blast finding out what songs some of my favorite authors write to.

Do you listen to music while you write? Do you have specific playlists for each of your novels? Who are some of the artists/ bands on your writing soundtrack?

About Nutschell

Nutschell (pronounced new-shell and not nut-shell) is a middle grade/young adult fantasy writer who hails from the Philippines and now lives in sunny Los Angeles. When she’s not masquerading as an accounting clerk, or busy with her SCBWI or CBW-LA duties, she pursues her many curiosities. A Jane-of-all-Trades, Nutschell’s interests include traveling, taking pictures, sketching, playing the guitar and drums, playing basketball, badminton, billiards, and singing in the shower. She also practices the Filipino Martial Art of Escrima, and bakes yummy marshmallow cloud cookies. Nutschell haunts Twitter @nutschell and she blogs at The Writing Nut


16 thoughts on “How Music Inspires Writing by Nutschell Windsor

  1. It’s great to learn more about you, Nutschell – especially the correct way to pronounce your name! I must look into Pandora, never have but people keep mentioning it.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing that site. I listen to music when I write too but I find it hard to locate music that inspires me when I’m working on my middle grade wips.

  3. Great post! I love all kinds of music as well (although I avoid the head banging stuff too). I tend to turn my iTunes onto shuffle or turn the TV onto one of the music channels. Lately it’s been modern jazz. I can’t name you a single artist or song, but boy, do those songs put my brain in the right mode for the contemporary romances I’m working on!

  4. Schell, you’re awesomely adorable. I love that photo of you. I used to listen to music and my early work had theme songs. It’s great for evoking moods. These days I prefer quiet. Although if the Husband Unit is home, I’ll put my headphones on. Lately, I usually listen to Muse or Elvis Costello.

  5. I never listen to music while I write. But I used to listen to it while I did programming work. Matchbox Twenty’s Mad Season is one of my favorites.

  6. I love listening to Pandora when I write. I put instrumental stations on shuffle usually unless I’m looking for something specific. But sometimes I just want quiet. Maybe I’m moodier than I thought – LOL.

  7. What an awesome post!I love all different types of music, too. Heavy metal isn’t my favorite- but my husband loves it! I agree that music can totally transport you to another time and place. It is fascinating the emotions and memories songs can evoke in us. I don’t listen to music when I write- but I listen to it most of the rest of the time. 🙂

  8. I like listening to music while writing; but don’t really care what it is. If I need a mood for a scene, I’ll create a list, but mostly its background noise. I haven’t tried out pandora yet, I guess I should.


  9. I really like listening to music when I write. My preference is classical or other instrumental music, sometimes entire symphonies or sonatas. Lyrics tend to distract me–I’ll end up focusing on the lyrics too much instead of the words I am supposed to be writing.

  10. Pingback: Thank You, 2012 : : The Writing Nut

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