Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Manuscript Playlist

I've noticed that a lot of writers are sharing their “manuscript playlists” with their readers these days; the list of songs they listened to that helped inspire them throughout the journey of writing their novel.  

And it got me wondering.

How can they possibly focus on writing with music playing in the background when I find it so hard to focus with someone else silently occupying the same room?

If you’re like me, you prefer to write in a quiet (and vacant) place where your thoughts are free from any outside distraction.

But I also have a playlist for each of my manuscripts. How does that work, you ask?


I’m a music lover. If I’m not writing or reading a book, I’m listening to music.

When a song “speaks to me” and makes me think of my WIP in any way, shape, or form, I add it to that novel’s playlist and then I listen to that list when I’m at the gym or when I’m commuting to the “day job”.

It really helps keep my characters or scenes fresh in my mind, and it helps me mentally prepare for the writing I’m going to do after those annoying things like the treadmill and work.

Having a playlist also helps me get back into a manuscript after it has gone through the cooling off period. I find it especially helpful if I’ve been working on another project during that downtime.

Let me share an example with you.

I finished my newest WIP in early October, and made it a goal to give myself a full two months away from it before starting the revision process.

I decided to rewrite one of my older manuscripts to keep myself busy, and I became completely lost in it and its characters. It did an excellent job separating me from the work I had just finished--I was able to have a true cooling off period so I can look at my newest WIP with fresh eyes.

The day before my two month mark I started listening to the playlist for that novel to get myself back into the story. I don’t know about you, but I love music and what it does to transport me back to times, places, feelings…even if all of those are found only in my novels.

And guess what?

When I printed my first draft and started reading it, my mind was clear of the other work I just finished, primed and ready for the characters and story that its playlist brought rushing back to the front of my mind.

So there you have it. You don’t have to be the type of writer who can listen to music and write at the same time. (Mad props to those who are!) You can still use a manuscript playlist to help keep you in the moments of your story, even when you have to be away from your keyboard.

What are your thoughts? Do you have playlists of music that help you during your writing process? Share how you use a manuscript playlist in the comments below!