Do you need dead silence to write, or do you find the lack of noise allows your mind to wander? Can you write only to Bach and Chopin, or do the sultry sounds of Motown move your pen? Or are you the type who thrives in a busy coffeeshop or crowded park?
Good news for writers who prefer to whistle (or toe-tap) while they work: The Internet is filled with free music playlists for any mood or preference, and many are designed specifically with writers in mind.
Lyrics too distracting? Choose a playlist without them. Need to write with a specific feeling in mind? Pick your playlist based on mood. And if you’d rather write to the sounds of crashing waves or a bustling coffeeshop, “ambient noise” playlists can do the trick.
Here’s a look at writer-minded playlists around the web.
Songza is one of the most popular sources for free playlists, curated by “music experts” for nearly every mood, genre, era or activity. Find another person’s words distracting when you’re trying to write your own? Choose from many playlists without lyrics. Need something safe for work in case your boss walks in? These upbeat, “clean” Working in an Office playlists have you covered. And if music just isn’t your jam, no worries: The site also has a collection of non-music recordings such as “In a Busy Coffeeshop,” “Soothing Lakeshore Waves” and “In a Quiet Park.”
Missing the days of mixed-tape past? 8tracks promises “music created by people, not algorithms.” Type in “writing” in the search bar and you’ll be treated to over 7,000 playlists created with writers in mind. The popular “Feel Something” series features a collection of swelling film scores to inspire moving scenes, while other options include songs with stories attached, songs for Lord of the Rings fans and songs inspired by that moment when you’re in a bookstore and realize – quote – “some bastard stole your book idea.”
The music giant is well known for album and artist streaming, but the site’s “Radio” section and user-generated playlists are less talked about. Browse user-created playlists for writing or stick to Spotify-curated playlists like “Novel Inspiration,” which includes writer-friendly songs like “Oxford Comma,” “Sylvia Plath” and “Oh, Mr. Darcy.” If you’d rather start your day with the spoken word, look to Spotify’s “Learn to Write” playlist, which contains audio recordings of instructional textbooks, writing essays and how-to books.
Need a certain mood to set a scene in your novel? Turn to Stereomood, which offers to “turn your mood into music.” Type in a mood – “melancholic,” “mysterious,” “cheerful” – or choose more abstract states of mind such as “writing,” “journal” or “dreaming.”
Got a favorite playlist or genre you listen to while you write? Share with your fellow writers below.