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5 Powerful Ways Music Boosts Creativity

Music Boosts Creativity

Music Boosts Creativity

Music and writing are intimately linked, both originating from the creative expression of the human experience. It’s proven that music boosts creativity and productivity for many writers. Listening to different genres of music while writing can totally change the game – it sets the mood, keeps you focused, and gets those ideas flowing.

Studies prove that music has a big impact on how we feel and think, making us more creative. If you figure out how to use music, it can really help you get those creative juices flowing as a writer.

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How Does Music Boosts Creativity

1. Enhances Mood and Atmosphere

Enhances Mood and AtmosphereResearch has shown that happy music can enhance divergent thinking, a key component of creativity. Listening to music that evokes positive emotions can broaden your perspective and increase the number of creative ideas you generate​ (Greater Good)​.

Different genres can evoke different emotional responses, which can be leveraged to match the mood of the scene or story you are writing. For instance, classical music might be used for calm and reflective scenes, while rock or electronic music could be ideal for high-energy or action-packed scenes​ (Helping Writers Become Authors)​​ (Discover Magazine)​.

Reflect on a time when a specific genre of music helped set the tone for a particular scene or chapter you were writing. Consider how different types of music may have affected the rhythm or pacing of your writing, and provide an example of this impact.

When I was writing the script to Black Winter, before it became a short story, I was listening to certain music to help invoke certain moods. I would listen to moody atmospheric music to enhance the suspense of the adventure through the dark forest and intense music for action based scenes. This was my first time using this as an experiment and continued to use this method. However, it can be a little distracted for someone like me who prefer to write first drafts in silence.

If I’m watching a movie and I like the original score, believing it would match the tone of my stories, I’d give it a listen. What I would do to get the mood going is listen to certain songs BEFORE writing so my brain can adjust to the scenes I’m writing. I would only do this AFTER my first draft. Writing my second draft of a story is when I take things apart and see how I can improve certain scenes. Using music helps the pacing of my writing. I do notice that when writing action scenes, listening to intense music makes me write faster.

2. Improves Focus and Concentration

Improves Focus and ConcentrationInstrumental music, particularly without lyrics, can improve focus by providing a structured and organized auditory environment, which helps maintain attention over longer periods​. Creating specific playlists for different writing projects can help establish associative connections, making it easier to enter a productive writing state when the familiar music plays​ (Psychology Today)​.

Consider how certain genres or types of music, such as instrumental or ambient, help you concentrate better while writing. Identify which ones are most effective for enhancing your focus and describe their impact on your writing process.

Before getting into writing anything and depending on the time, I would play calm, jazz music to play in the background. There is a certain vibe I get when I hear music as I write at the comfort of my own home. It feels like I’m a part of something or involved somehow. I’m in trance when I write with calm music. Smooth jazz helps my brain relax, which helps me write better.

Of course, when certain scenes require specific music, I’ll then switch the playlist briefly to set the mood.

3. Sparks Inspiration and Imagination

Sparks Inspiration and ImaginationExposure to diverse musical genres can stimulate new ideas and creative solutions. Music can serve as a trigger for memories, emotions, and imaginative scenarios that can be translated into your writing​ (Frontiers)​.

Some studies suggest that listening to music before engaging in creative tasks, rather than during, can enhance creativity. This preparatory listening helps set the emotional tone and cognitive flexibility needed for creative work​ (Discover Magazine)​.

Reflect on a time when listening to a specific song or genre sparked a new idea or creative solution in your writing. Share an instance where this happened, illustrating the impact music had on your creative process.

An instance that this has happened to me was playing the PS5 video game remake of Demon’s Souls, developed by BluePoint Games and Japan Studio. In the game, you’ll find yourself in the foggy kingdom of Boletaria, where a hero is called upon to face off against a demon let loose by the king. The game is known for its tough battles, character customization, and five different worlds, each with their own unique challenges.

The game’s music, composed by Shunsuke Kida, is diverse, with powerful tracks designed specifically for boss fights and haunting ambient pieces that create an eerie atmosphere. Emotional themes using choirs, strings, and brass instruments establish a grand and ominous tone, fully immersing players in the perilous game world.

When I listened to some of the tracks designed for the boss fights, my imagination would take me to places I never thought I would imagine. I started developing a dark fantasy concept that I might showcase in the future. No other music would have unlocked this part of my imagination and I never thought I’d find an interest in writing dark fantasy. I saved a few tracks to listen to whenever I’ll get into writing the narrative.

LISTEN TO: The OST to Demon’s Souls composed by Shunsuke Kida

Now, when it comes to other types of music such as early 1940s music, for example, my imagination would take me to writing a historical piece whether I know anything about the past or not. It’s amazing how music can transport you to unfamiliar worlds when you dive into creative writing.

4. Deepens Emotional Resonance

Deepens Emotional ResonanceMusic’s ability to influence mood can help writers connect more deeply with their characters’ emotions and the thematic elements of their stories. For example, sad or melancholic music might help writers explore complex emotional scenes with greater depth and authenticity​ (Frontiers)​.

Reflect on a time when music helped you connect more deeply with the emotions of your characters or the themes of your story. Describe the impact this connection had on your writing.

In my experience, the only time I ever felt music that deeply resonated with the characters was two polar opposite genres. A sad song to invoke the emotional turmoil of the character and a happy song to invoke joy. It also depends on where in the plot should certain music be played. If you watch a film and notice in the climax and falling action of the plot, melancholic music plays to let the audience know that this is when the character is fully challenged.

RELATED: 8 Significant Literary Elements

When writing and want to get as creative as possible with the themes or characters’ emotions, I would listen to specific music to reignite my creativity. In my short story, The Devil’s Disciple, I was inspired by the musical score of the 1987 film Angel Heart. Both narratives are moody and atmospheric, so it would make sense for the musical score to help with the inspiration for my story.

LISTEN TO: the original score to Angel Heart composed by Trevor Jones

5. Provides Refreshing Creative Breaks

Provides Refreshing Creative BreaksTaking breaks with music can refresh your mind and provide new perspectives. The type of music you choose during these breaks can either energize or relax you, depending on your needs​ (Psychology Today)​.

Whenever I have a writing session and need to take a break, I would only listen to calm and relaxing music with a happier tone. My writing sessions go around 6 to 8 hours, with a break every hour for 15 minutes. Think of it like this: when working out, we work in increments of sets and then take a minute or two, sometimes a five-minute break in between. For reading and writing, one hour is basically one set and then I’ll take about 15 to 20 minutes break. We are exercising our brain and need it to be in its best shape so it can perform well on paper. Music is the water we drink to replenish and re-energize.

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How Music Boosts Creativity When Writing 8-bit

To get the mood right for my techno-thriller, 8-bit, I would listen to dark synthwave music. An example would be this from Devour. This lead me to explore other dark synthwave to continue boosting my creativity when creating this narrative. It’s supposed to be dark, suspenseful, and create a sense of dread where technology is the central plot of the thriller. Consider this music as an introduction piece to the story.

LISTEN TO: Dark Synthwave by Devour

Certain scenes or chapters or key moments might trigger a music effect in my head when writing. Think of it like a movie. When a character discovered something that might be detrimental to an investigation, certain music might trigger. So, when writing the chapter when Nolan receives his first game cartridge and comes to a realization that it’s about him and not a random game, I imagine some sort of suspenseful synthwave music playing in the background. So, I’ll go on a search for this type of music and play it in the background and write.

I wouldn’t listen to it all the time as it will kill the mood of the story, therefore might affect my writing. With other parts of the story, if necessary, I’ll listen to calm music when there is no intensity. Sometimes, I’ll keep it silence depending on the mood of the plot. Again, only when writing the first draft, I won’t listen to anything and keep everything silence. It’s when writing the second draft I tend to focus more on atmosphere and mood.

There will be a time I am not writing. I’ll listen to music on the train or running errands and certain thoughts pop up in my head that will fit very well with 8-bit. I’ll have the song on repeat and imagine the scenario over and over again. I’ll give myself sometime to digest what I have envisioned and then write it down with the music playing another time.

Whenever I take a break from writing this novel, I would NOT listen to anything that is related to the story. I need to prevent any sort of burnout from the story if I want to write it properly and the way I imagined.

RELATED: 5 Great Strategies to Combat Burnout as a Writer

So far, writing 8-bit is a process, but an enjoyable one as this is a story that will truly resonate with readers. It is suspenseful, intense, and intriguing. 8-bit comes out on Christmas 2024. Stay tuned for more information.

Recommended Books on How Music Boosts Creativity

This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin: This book explores the relationship between music and the brain, discussing how music influences cognitive functions and creativity. Levitin examines how music shapes our experiences and creativity, drawing from neuroscience and psychology.

The Power of Music by Elena Mannes: Mannes explores into the scientific research on how music affects the brain, body, and emotions, highlighting its impact on creativity.

Final Thoughts

Integrating music into your writing routine can have a profound impact on your creative process. Different types of music have their own perks – they can help you get in the zone, boost your creativity, or set the vibe just right. Music has been proven to impact our emotions and thinking skills, making it easier to come up with creative ideas.​ By carefully selecting music that complements the theme or atmosphere of your writing, you can create a powerful synergy that enhances your storytelling.

Also, understanding how music impacts your brain and behavior can help you tap into its full potential. Whether it’s classical music to chill or rock and electronic music to pump you up, every genre can inspire your creativity. Use these strategies and resources to make your writing sessions more productive and imaginative.

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