The Power of Music in Creative Writing


I’ve rarely heard music discussed when people talk of writing inspiration. For me it’s a large part of my life and therefore largely inspiring. I find both the music and the artist behind it interesting and any song that interests me develops a story or narrative behind it.

Many late nights I’ve spent with my headphones plugged into the TV, watching the music channels, were well worth suffering through my tiredness at work the next day. I came across all sorts of unknown and unusual music videos, many of which I couldn’t find again if I tried. Each song is a story and frequent daydreaming of narratives to music stretches your writing brain.

If you don’t already do so, the next time you find a song that’s really interesting, that really speaks to you, let your mind wander and create a story. You can imagine someone singing it. What are they feeling? What are they saying? You can string together several songs as part of a characters journey. Imagine that they are in a musical and that this is their expression. Imagine that you can create any images and scenarios you like to express the music within your mind.

Music videos themselves are meant to match the songs intentions. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t but they are still wonderful sources of inspiration for writers.

I don’t if I’m alone in this, but now and then I’ll hear a song and imagine it could be the soundtrack to a film version of my novel. After all most fiction writing is about emotion and characterisation. What if your character did have a soundtrack to their lives?

Music can also be useful for helping with poetry. I find rap, particular when it comes to some of the more intelligent rappers, to be very interesting. Watching a good freestyle or poetry slam on YouTube can teach you a lot of interesting things if you listen carefully. Good rap music usually involves good storytelling and so fits into the storytelling world in a very modern way. I usually like to keep a book for random poetry or writing near me when I listen to music at home, so that I can stop and scribble any random rhymes that come to mind. Often it’s just a jumble but it’s good practise and occasionally results in something wonderful and spontaneous.

So the next time you’re listening to music, take note of some of your ideas. Get yourself into the head of the singer or writer. Think of this:

What emotion are they expressing?

What’s happening in the song?

What opinions are they giving?

How do they use words or sounds to create the atmosphere?

..and occasionally, scribble down some random rap/poetry that pops into your head when you listen to music.

I’ve posted a writing exercise based on this article on this blog. Click here to join in.

Image belongs to: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/keb and may be subject to copyright.

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3 thoughts on “The Power of Music in Creative Writing

  1. Great post – I often use music to inspire my writing. I find it’s a great way for me to be in touch with my manuscript, my characters, etc., when I can’t be at my keyboard. I’m a strong auditory learner, and find it’s a piece of music, rather than an image, that gets my creative juices flowing.

  2. Pingback: Coming Up… « bardicblogger

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