If you’ve read my past posts, you know I used to despise listening to music while I worked. I’ve converted, thank goodness, and honestly, I have no idea what was wrong with me back then. Ambient music has become my very favorite tool for a productive writing session, as it helps me imagine environments, draw out emotions, and stay focused. I have my go-to’s, music I will listen to for any type of writing, but since my current work-in-progress is set in a futuristic utopia, I’ve tried to incorporate that ~vibe~ to my playlist. Here are some of my current favorites.
Even if you aren’t a gamer, the Skyrim soundtrack is a must-listen. Since Skyrim is a fantasy world, the music has a sweeping, whimsical vibe, making it great for writing action-heavy novels (like fantasy — go figure!) or anything set in an imaginative, detailed environment. However, most of the soundtrack is very ambient and unobtrusive, so it can set the mood for any kind of writing. For loops of specific sections of the soundtrack, the Everness channel on YouTube has a great selection.
Ambient is an excellent resource for writers, as the YouTube channel is dedicated to just that: ambience. It offers a large selection of spacey, modern ambient music, as well as original playlists based around the type of music you want to listen to, from “chill indie” to “dreamchaser” to “downtempo garage.” Perfect for studying, as well as for sci-fi or dystopian writing.
Or anything by Hans Zimmer, really. But Inception‘s main theme, “Time,” is so great for writing because it is a simple, atmospheric piece that builds to a cinematic climax. The melody reflects the film’s futuristic, dreamy vibe, great for dystopian, sci-fi, and suspenseful writing, but since the song is only four minutes, you can find longer loops (like this ten-hour version) to listen to the song for longer sessions.
I honestly have no idea who this guy is (please advise), but Zack Hemsey’s music, especially his instrumental stuff, is great for action-filled plots and climatic moments. The music has a driving beat to keep you engaged, and its edgy ambience makes it the perfect soundtrack to any story set in a dystopian future.
We’ve all listened to this while finishing a paper last-minute or cramming for a test, but Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” with it’s moody dissonance and plodding melody, also works well for writing fiction, too. Because of the darkness and heavy emotion, it’s perfect for hopeless dystopias, tragic novels, and mysteries. And it’s just plain beautiful to listen to.
“Safe and Sound”
Okay, this song is a mood. I’ll admit, I’m not a huge Taylor Swift fan (though I do love The Civil Wars — RIP), and I usually don’t listen to music with lyrics when I write, but “Safe and Sound” from the Hunger Games soundtrack brings out all the feels. I like to listen to it at the beginning of my writing sessions to put me in the dismal frame of mind dystopian fiction requires. Or it throws me back to my high school days, which is a different kind of dismal, but it works.
NOW TELL ME // What kind of music do you listen to when you write? Do you make specific playlists depending on which genre you’re working in? Let me know below!