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Music to Write By


musicwrite Music to Write ByI’ve mentioned before that I’m a musician by training and by trade. I also grew up in a household that always had some kind of noise going on. The television was always on, even if no one was watching it. It took me several years to get used to real quiet. I found it hard to study and concentrate without some kind of background noise.

When I was in college, I took classes on how to analyze music. For a long time afterwards I found it hard to simply listen to music for enjoyment’s sake and found myself listening critically to every piece of music.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve found it increasingly hard to concentrate with extraneous sound in my environment. When writing, I’ve come to prefer one of two options: either total silence (which is next to impossible in our household) or listening to music with my Bose headphones.

When I do decide to plug in while writing, it’s often in an effort to drown out the noise going on around me. The problem comes when it’s time to figure out what to listen to. For me, I’ve determined that I can’t listen to music with lyrics, which typically means defaulting to classical music. But I’ve also discovered another genre that seems perfectly tailored to writing—movie soundtracks.

The obvious cinematic qualities of movie soundtracks are perfect for writing, especially fantasy fiction. It’s easy to find music that fits whatever you’re writing at the time: romantic scenes, battle sequences, mysterious characters, dire circumstances, you name it.

Here’s a short list of some of my favorite music to write by. Not all of them are movie soundtracks, but most are.

As you can see, I have an affinity for Brahms. I’ve also found that nearly anything composed by Hans Zimmer is a winner for feeding my writing.

What music do you enjoy writing to? Please share in the comments.

Author: J. Mark Miller (@jmarkmiller)

J. Mark Miller has been a writer since his childhood days. His debut novel, The Foundlings, is available now on Amazon. J. Mark has been a minister, a musician, a school teacher, an avid blogger, and an amateur chef. He's become something of a self-publishing guru, learning how to create ebooks, book covers, and the ins and outs of distribution. If you need help getting your book design, layout, conversion, or distribution, visit J. and his wife at their site  Five J's Design to learn more. J. Mark's current project is a book of writing prompt entitled 250 Story Seeds. He posts fresh writing prompts every Wednesday at He's also a contributor to Five J's, a blog about raising lifelong learners. You can connect with J. Mark on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. I am a new reader of your blog but this particular subject is near and dear to my heart. Some of the better pieces I have found myself writing to as of late are:

    Assassin’s Creed 1 & 2
    Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
    Assasin’s Creed Revelations: All of these are by Jesper Kyd and the latter ones include Lorne Balfe. They have been working with Hans Zimmer on these soundtracks so you know that they are good.

    “Uneartged” by E.S. Posthumus
    “Cartographer” by E. S. Posthumus (skip anything that features vocals by Luna Sans, She sounds much too “pop-ish” and her voice is annoying rather than imspiring to write by.

    “Parishan” by Niyaz – Azam Ali is one of the most fabulous voices in the world, she is right up there with Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance. Anything by Azam Ali, Niyaz or Vas (with Greg Ellis) are inspiring.

    “Stellamara” – another world music group, from Turkey I believe, that is very inspiring.

    Anyway, I hope those might inspire you and others. :)


    J. Mark Miller (@jmarkmiller) Reply:

    Hi, and thanks for stopping by and sharing. I guess I’m showing my age, but I don’t think I’ve really keyed in on any video game soundtracks. Of course, I’m from the Atari generation, so I don’t think there’s anything from that era that would be conducive to write by.

    I do have a friend on Wattpad who’s been posting stories along with music from various games to listen to while reading her work. I have to admit it works very well.

    Thanks again for stopping in.


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