Free Resources for Listening While You Write

Some writers create in silence. Others need quiet instrumentals. Still other writers enjoy rock music vibrating their keyboards. Which one are you?

For myself, I like either silence or instrumental music when I'm actually writing. Hearing words while I'm composing words is too conflicting. 

But when I'm brainstorming a scene, I like to hear the words. Some songs have inspired whole scenes and plot twists. 

I don't own an iPod. I haven't amassed a huge collection of music. But I've discovered a way to enlarge my musical horizons and bring variety in what I listen to. Personalized internet radio.

Several services offer (for free) the ability for users to create their own music "channels". You type in a song or artist you like, and the songs start to play. If a selection comes up you don't enjoy, just click 'thumbs down'. 

Soon, depending on your preferences, the software chooses other songs and artists based on the music's 'genomes'. You may discover groups and artists you never knew you'd like. Of course, if you don't enjoy them, they're easily eliminated.

As a writer, sometimes I'm in the mood for quiet piano instrumentals. I made a channel for that. Other times, I want songs with a particular flavor or theme. I'm able to create as many channels as I like. I'm designing a channel for the particular novel I'm working on right now. Sort of a 'movie soundtrack' for the book. If I get stuck while writing, listening to my soundtrack might be just the inspiration I need.

In a future novel, I'll need to be familiar with the chanting of monks. I'm sure one of these services will give me all I need, without having to spend money buying songs. Of course, whatever music I can't live without can be purchased easily through the sites.

Two services seem to be the most popular, Pandora and GrooveShark (Pandora is no longer free outside the US). There are many others, but these two appear to provide the most comprehensive music selection.

What do you listen to when you write? Are you the 'silent type', or do you need music to get the words flowing?


  1. Great article! For me, it depends what I'm working on. If I'm working on poetry, I need total silence. If I'm working on my screenplay, I tend to listen to loud/rock music, as that is what my main character listens to, so it sets the tone. I listen to what my characters would enjoy based on the project I'm working on quite often.. They seem to be more forgiving with information when I am trying to reach my goal word count. :)

  2. Now that is COOL! I definitely need music to write, but I think that is something that has been acquired through habit.

    I'm definitely going to check these sites out! Thanks, as always, for the links.

  3. Krissy, that's interesting that the music (or not) depends on the genre! I may have to think about that.

    S.M., I think you'll really like it. You can listen at work while you're writing!




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