I personally love music. I love listening to it. I love just going about the average every day parts of my life to a soundtrack.

It’s hard to stay focused when your soundtrack has words

But writing is a little messy when I listen to my normal playlists. I’ve known since my student years that when I work in silence I can’t get anything done, but when I write to the pop music that I do the vacuuming by or use to survive commuting I end up writing snippets of the lyrics into my work. Sometimes that’s a pretty good thing, but other times… well, there aren’t many cases where the hero of an epic Fantasy needs to “Shake it Off”. It just doesn’t work for what I’m writing. More energetic music without words like Electro Pop makes me want to dance more than write, and that’s not really useful either!

Words in other languages can still distract your writing

One solution a lot of other creatives I know use, especially studio artists, is to listen to music in the same genre that they normally go for, but in a language they don’t understand. That’s helpful, but sometimes any words at all can be too distracting. Besides, even foreign music tends to have snippets of English thrown in just for kicks, and I also don’t need characters that are “ready to bingo”. (Don’t worry Super Junior, I can guarantee my lyrics would be much funnier or even plain incomprehensible if I ever attempted to write even one line in Korean.)

Maybe the solution for a distraction free soundtrack is not to use actual music at all

So the next thing I’ve tried was to use an ambient noise soundtrack instead of actual music. You can find hours long clips of nature sounds like rain or snow, or atmospheric sounds like a crackling fire or bird calls in a tropical paradise.

For me the best ambient noise for concentrating has definitely been sites that let you mix your own soundtrack with different volumes for different components. This cafe mix, for example, lets me adjust the sounds of clacking silverware, the low murmer of indistinct conversations, a quiet rain, and other little background noises.

Genre Theme Music

When ambient noise won’t cut it, genre themed music called useful titles like “Fantasy Ambient Playlist” or “Science Fiction Ambient noise” are pretty useful.

Of course, if all else fails, doing a quick Winnie The Pooh stretch usually gets my blood moving just enough that I can focus on sitting down and moving the magic of the Shadeworld series along 🙂

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