Facts of Life,  Inspiration,  Motivation,  Writing Journey,  Writing World

Writing Playlists & Such Things

Once upon a time, five years ago, I made a story playlist for the first time. It contained a whopping total of 7 songs, and I was obsessed with all of them. After that, I made playlists for every working project! They helped me focus, and I figured out how to add songs that helped me envision scenes and characters and songs that evoked emotions.

But then, in 2017, I ended up with a playlist of 36 songs, and they haven’t done anything for me since.

I think the reasoning for this is twofold. For one, they weren’t actually helping me with the story to begin with. When I look at the stories I finished, the playlists were either made after the fact to help put me in the mood to edit by reminding me of my story on the way to and from work, or they were just made up of my current favorite songs, which makes sense, as those songs make me happy, and thus I was more relaxed, which enabled me to work more effectively later because I wasn’t overburdened by a bunch of randomness. Which is, in fact, the second point.

It’s easy to sift through the story graveyard and find multiple examples that support this theory.ย That first playlist I made was perfect for the story, but that story currently sits in the graveyard, and I have no intention of digging it back up again. In fact, most of the stories I made playlists for have ended up in the graveyard, or they’ll end up in there soon enough.

When I started making playlists all the time, I ran around my collection of too many songs, adding whatever I thought “fit the mood.” And while that sounds good in theory, the whole process was really just a huge waste of time, “giving me something to do” instead of writing or brainstorming so that I could feel productive without actually being any kind of productive, kind of like when I was making a bunch of story boards on Pinterest. They didn’t actually inspire me to do any kind of writing, not to mention I was starting to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of pictures in some of the folders, and when I realized I spent a whole day one time just rooting for story board pictures on DeviantArt, I knew I needed to stop.

So, I’m not making playlists anymore. I’ll just overplay my current favorite songs or cycle through a playlist, whatever the mood calls for, and then call it a day. After all, it’s the music itself that’s helping, not any specific song.

This is what happens when you compare yourself to other writers too much. You don’t just end up comparing your books to theirs. You end up comparing your editing style, your brainstorming process, and whatever else, to whatever that writer is doing as well. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. You may not realize that listening to music can help put you in the mood to create something until you try it. But that doesn’t mean that I need to run around making playlists. And of course, I only know this for sure because I tried it.

Next week is Christmas, so I’m not posting, even though I won’t be busy, haha, but I will be posting sometime the next week, like around the 30th, New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day, I haven’t decided yet. It depends on when I want to want to do my reading wrap up and talk about goals and all of that fun stuff!! ๐Ÿ˜€ I know. I’m so excited. So, Happy Christmas! Be good. Or not. ^_^


  • Thea Landen

    I’ve done them before, and like you, I’ve had mixed results with them. Sometimes they do help me get in the mood to write, or even give a deadline of “Okay, once this song is done, I WILL open up the document!” Other times…nothing. I haven’t made one in a while, but since my writing has been reeeeeeeeally inconsistent this year, I’m not going to say the two are connected just yet….

  • Michelle Athy

    I used to do a playlist for every major story idea and…why? For FrankenIdea, I have specific songs that remind me of the story and the characters, but it’s not on a playlist. I think I used putting the playlist together as a crutch before gettting down to writing.

  • Tonja Drecker

    I’ve never had playlists…but then, I don’t listen to music much. Thanks to the 4 kids, silence is golden for me. But I have used mood music a time or two while editing to help me ‘feel’ a scene’s atmosphere better. Have a very Merry Christmas!!!!

    • Krystal Jane

      Merry Christmas! ^_^

      I love silence! I can listen to a musical score or something non-distracting every once in a while, but I mostly need silence, so the songs would only get played on the way to and from work anyway.

  • Jodi Leigh

    Interesting post!

    I discovered two things about music and writing these past few years: 1. I HAVE to listen to music when I write, and 2. I CAN’T listen to music I love.

    It turns out if I’m playing music I love, I’ll repeatedly get derailed from writing to listen to, or sing along with, my favorite songs. It ends up being a big fat distraction. So instead, I have to either A) Listen to music that I enjoy ‘just enough’ but I’m not crazy about, or B) Listen to instrumental music only.

    So commenting on this post is the last thing I’m doing online before I stay off of the internet for the holidays too. This is the time of year where I like to cleanse my brain of social networking. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Have a wonderful Christmas Miss Krystal!

    • Krystal Jane

      Merry Christmas, Jodi!! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Sometimes I have mood music, but after a couple of plays, if I’m still writing the scene, I’ll usually have to turn it off because I can’t concentrate. Lol! It’s fascinating how some people like music or background noises when they write. Surprisingly, or maybe not, I have no problem writing in a cafe that has both music and noise. It’s easy for me to tune out collective noises like that. I used to be able to completely tune out football games back in the day. I would read right through them. ^_^

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