Setting the Mood With Music

What puts you in the mood to write? Is it a sudden moment of inspiration? A nap? Watching a movie or TV show? Once you start writing, what keeps you there? I have found that my focus comes in the form of music while writing. Perhaps it is because I am a musician or that music engages the creative side of the brain, but listening to particular types of music helps me focus. However, if I listen to a band, I find myself distracted by the words and the guitars. So, how do I overcome the obstacle?

When I watch movies, I enjoy all aspects, but music resonates with me during the film and long after. A score can make a good movie great, and only specific composers move me. No two composures are alike, and if they are, they need to be more original. When choosing music, I pick scores from movies that had a profound impact on me. If you find a composure of one movie, do research. Maybe they made more scores for movies, and you are unaware of their contributions. A valuable tool is Internet Movie Database or My all-time favorite is Hans Zimmer. But not all music will help you in your current scene, and you need to be mindful of how it makes you feel at the moment.

I break my music down to playlists and label them. Each starts with the title “Book–” followed by a tag, so they are clumped together. If I need an action scene, I play “Book–Fights.” Maybe I want to write an inspirational hero moment, I’ve got that, too. I even make playlists for specific characters so I can immediately get in the correct “mood.” Each scene or chapter I write, I switch the playlist if needed. What about those dark, heartbreaking moments? In movies, the acting moves you, but the ballad sweeping over the scene makes your soul cringe. Use the same tactic when writing. If you don’t know what kind of mood you need to be in, pick your absolute top-ten favorites and clump them in a playlist and label it “Book–Mood Setting.” One song that comes to mind is called ‘The Dark Knight,’ a sixteen-minute ensemble of melodies. Let the music sweep you off your feet and let your imagination soar.

Below is a short list of artists I use. It’s primarily Hans Zimmer, who did well-known scores to superb movies such as The Dark Knight Trilogy, Crimson Tide, Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Da Vinci Code, Hannibal, Inception, Interstellar, and Man of Steel just to name a few. His career spans decades and all of his music is unique, no two songs are the same, though they may carry the theme of another, it is a score for a movie after all.

Atticus Ross: The Book of Eli
Junkie XL: Mad Max: Fury Road
James Horner: Braveheart
Howard Shore: The LOTR and Hobbit trilogies
John Paesano: Netflix and Marvel’s Daredevil
John Williams: Star Wars
Michael Giacchino: Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness
Nicholas Hooper: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Ramin Djawadi: Game of Thrones
Rupert Gregson-Williams: Wonder Woman
Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil: Cloud Atlas

Do you listen to music while you write? What is your favorite artist? If you would like more on the playlists labels or other artists or specific songs, leave a comment below. 

If you enjoyed this content or you’re an avid, epic fantasy reader, check out my book, The Bearer of Secrets, on Amazon. It’s available on Kindle Unlimited, eBook, and print.

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