Music can be emotional, calming and inspiring – all perfect to help you write, as long as you pick the right songs. It’s all too easy to bung on your latest favourite album and waste your precious writing time having a singalong or spend ages faffing around trying to find the perfect song for a scene. That’s the trouble I used to have. I persisted with trying to write while listening to Fall Out Boy for a long time, but eventually I accepted it simply doesn’t work for me, no matter how much I want it to. I couldn’t face writing in silence though, so I found another way.
I now listen to game soundtracks almost exclusively as I write, and I’d like to share my reasons why I believe they’re perfect for this purpose.
- The emotional connection – Games can be highly emotional, even ones you wouldn’t expect it from. The soundtracks conjure up the emotions you would have felt at that point in the storyline like you’re reliving the moment. Games tell just as varied stories as books and so if you’ve got a scene, you can almost guarantee there’s a soundtrack for something similar and playing it can really get you in the right mood. If you’re feeling tense, excited, triumphant, nostalgic – whatever feeling the music evokes – then it will come through in your writing.
- Designed to be played on loop – think about how the music works on most games. No matter how long you’re in an area it’ll keep playing almost seamlessly. This is how they’re meant to be heard and so you can loop the same track for however long you want to write for without it sounding off.
- Concentration – game music conditions you to concentrate when you hear it. Remember how your heart rate can spike just from the first note of the boss battle music? It’s because you’re conditioned to expect something adrenaline-inducing following that noise. If you’ve played the game a lot you’re used to both enjoying the music but tuning it out enough to concentrate on what you’re doing, which is exactly what you want when writing.
- Good songs – I love game soundtracks. I think there are some incredible ones out there and they’re as good as any ‘proper’ songs. In the end, you don’t want to be listening to something boring and good game music is anything but. I know they’re not for everyone, but if you’ve got a favourite game then you’ll probably enjoy the soundtrack and I think there’s a game out there for everyone.
You might be perfectly happy with your writing soundtrack and that’s great. I’m not trying to convert anyone, we all have our own processes. I’d just like to ask everyone to try and have an honest think about their writing habits in any respect and ask, “Does this really work for me?” If the answer is “No,” or “I’m not sure,” then do what I did and try out an alternative. It might stick or it might not. The important part is you’ll learn a little more about how you work.
I’d be interested to hear what you guys listen to as you write, if anything. Let me know in the comments or DM me on Instagram. I might do a future post on what soundtracks I’d recommend if anyone is interested. I hope you enjoyed this post and be sure to let me know if you do try out something new!