Saturday, February 21, 2015

TCWT Blog Chain: My Favorite Music for Writing

Hello, everyone! This Saturday's post is going to be a little different than usual. I am participating (for the first time) in the TCWT Blog Chain. Now, first I'm going to annoy you with a paragraph about what exactly TCWT is, because it's cool and I'm part of the TCWT team, actually.

TCWT stands for "Teens Can Write, Too." It's essentially a blog that you can find at, but in addition to being a blog, it's also a living community of young writers. "Young writers" means anyone between about 10 and 20, who loves any sort of writing. Young people are often discouraged from pursuing their passion in writing, either because it's supposedly impractical, or because older writers think that young ones aren't good enough. Well, TCWT is part of the movement to change that mindset, and to encourage young writers by posting writing/publishing advice, celebrating successful young writers, and doing community stuff like this blog chain. TCWT is also partners with Ch1Con, the young writers' conference and online writing community that I'm also a part of. So basically, it's really cool, and if you're a young writer or know a young writer, you should check it out.

But anyway. The blog chain is a thing where different young writers' blogs participate by responding to the writing prompt of the month, and this month I decided to join in. The prompt this month is: "How does music relate to your writing?"

I'm one of the proponents of listening to music while writing. I actually can't write anymore without listening to music, which is probably not a good thing, but oh well. Normally what I do is create playlists that relate to my book and listen to them. There's no real method there; it's the way anyone would create a playlist for anything: think of songs you like, pick the ones that sound like they fit the mood, and put them in a good order. My current WIP, The Wishmaker, has a very wintry/magical/adventure mood, so my playlist is full of songs that sound like that to me.

Obviously, if I were to ask someone else to make the playlist, it wouldn't work. If I told someone, "hey, pick some wintry, magical, adventure-y songs," they'd probably pick the wrong ones, because they don't understand my complex and personal relationship with my own very specific book. Plus, they don't necessarily know my musical tastes. So I think it's important that you make your own playlist. When you hear a song and think instantly of your book, or of a scene from your book, that's a song that will work, more than any song whose lyrics are "right" for the book.

The reason why writing playlists are so useful is because they create moods. When I need to write a battle scene on a snowy plain, but it's a tired summer afternoon, putting on this song ("Dream of Dreams" by Brian Crain) helps. When writing feels like the worst thing ever and you don't care about your book, putting on a powerfully moving song that reminds you of your favorite parts of your story will motivate you. Plus, sometimes, after spending a lot of time not writing, you can feel disconnected from your story. Listening to the music you've listened to so often while writing it can propel you back into that world.

Now, like I said, it's important for you to pick songs that you relate to personally, but I thought I would share some of my own sources for finding those songs.

First of all, songs that you happen to have listened to while writing can put you back in the writing mood, just because of the weird sensory relationships in our brains. For example, when I was writing my NaNo novel in seventh grade, Leira Frank and the Wedding Video, I spent most of my writing time in the computer room (remember computer rooms? haha), where my dad would also sit and play his favorite computer game, Age of Empires. The soundtrack from the game would play while I sat there writing my painfully terrible prose, and as such, I started associating this music with working on my novel. (By the way, it's nearly 30 minutes of battle-y sounding music, if you need that.) So if there's any music you used to listen to by chance while writing, that sort of thing can help.

Other sources are to listen to lots of music and write down every song that reminds you of your book. I used to listen to the radio a lot, and when the song "Lovesong" by the Cure came on one day, it reminded me of the book I was writing. So I added it to my writing playlist. Good places to find lots of songs are Pandora, the radio, and clicking links on the sidebar on YouTube, my favorite. When you listen to lots of good and varied music, you're bound to find stuff that works for your book. (Plus, like, you get to listen to good music. So that's fun.)

And now, time for me to shamelessly show off my favorite artists for my own writing music. :)

Brian Crain is a super-prolific and super-talented composer who works with  piano and violin. Instrumental music is totally useful for writing, since there's no distracting lyrics. (Movie scores are also great, as Julia the Writer Girl discussed in her blog chain post.) And Brian Crain's songs range so many emotions and ideas. His titles tend to give away the mood of his songs, which is nice- "Fire" is angry, whereas "Imagining" is reflective, etc. His music is awesome and I listen to it while writing a lot.

The Honey Trees is one of my favorite bands. It's made up of two super talented singers/musicians (who actually eerily remind me of my two protagonists, haha). Their voices are so beautiful and their music basically sounds like it came from a magical fairy world. So it's excellent at setting moods for fantasy books. Their song "Wake the Earth" was the song I listened to on replay while writing an otherworldly scene with Death in a frozen lake.

Daughter is just generally one of my favorite artists, made up of a really fantastic singer and two very talented musicians. Their songs are full of striking music that sends a shiver down my spine and can work extremely well for emotional scenes. There are love songs, heartbreak songs, freeing songs, aching songs, all sorts of things. And there are several songs without a lot of words, such as "Drift." I highly recommend them.

Finally (and this was a very difficult "finally" because I have so many more I want to share), Laurena Segura is a talented YouTube singer with beautiful songs that aren't too loud and overpowering. You might recognize her if you're a Vlogbrothers fan; she was recommended by John Green a couple of years ago and became pretty popular that way. Her songs are great for listening to in the background during quiet scenes, peaceful scenes, and scenes where you want to be inspired for lovely prose. She also writes good "accepting heartbreak" songs like "Permafrost", for romance novel stuff.

Anyway, I've gone on long enough, I think. Thanks for reading my song recommendations and thoughts!

And for those of you who want to know my new experience of the week: I went to a Tu B'Shevat fruit seder, organized by my school's Hillel. Tu B'Shevat is a Jewish holiday which celebrates the start of spring in Israel and creates an opportunity to eat fresh fruit and discuss environmental issues. I had to leave early because I had a French conversation I had to go to, but it was fun anyway.

Thanks again for reading, and see you Wednesday for a regular blog post.


P.S. If you're interested in reading more posts from the blog chain, check out the rest of the posts at these blogs:

28th – (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)


  1. WOWW!!! great post. thanks for sharing
    laughed so hard on the "computer room" and age of empires & your ABA ;-)
    also liked them all but LOVED Brian Crain!!! subscribed (listening to "rain" by him as i write this)
    keep it up
    love & miss u

  2. Wow, this is an impressive post! That's a fascinating story of how you got to be a writer and music's role in that, not to mention the sweet recs you wrote. I'll bet the artists themselves would be honored. :) Thanks for sharing such unique ideas.