The #1 Way to Get Inspired to Write

by Suzannah Freeman

Woman with headphones

Inspiration is all around us, but sometimes it’s difficult to get fired up to begin a writing session.

What’s the number one way to get inspired in record time?

Make a music soundtrack.

If you’re working on a creative project (novel, short story, narrative non-fiction), you can help set the mood by playing a soundtrack with songs that remind you of your work.

When choosing songs to include, consider the following;


What do the song’s lyrics make you think of? Do they tell a story of their own? What kind of language is used? Are the lyrics literal and laid-back, or are they poetic and metaphorical? Will the lyrics distract you from writing? If so, you may want to choose instrumental pieces, instead.


What is the mood of the song? Does it make you feel sad? Nostalgic? Angry? Energized? Tense? Will this song help put you in the right frame of mind to write what you want?


What does the song’s rhythm sound like? Is it fast, slow, regular, or irregular? If someone is singing, how does the singer’s voice sound? If it’s instrumental, what instruments are used?

Once you’ve made a playlist or CD of the songs you want, you can listen to it either before you being writing, or while you’re writing. You can crank it up, or play it softly in the background.

Here are a few selections from my personal playlist. By listening to these songs, can you guess the overall mood of my work-in-progress?

What songs inspire you to write? Which are on your perennial playlist?

Today’s Challenge: Make a music soundtrack for your work-in-progress, and listen to it either before or during your writing sessions.

About the Author: Suzannah Windsor Freeman is the founder of Write It Sideways, a blog where writers learn new skills, define their goals, and increase their productivity. She is co-founder of the Better Writing Habits challenge.

  • Eporter70

    Perfect suggestion!

    I have a specific list on my iTunes marked “writing music”. It tends to be on the melancholy, acoustic guitar side. Some artists included there are Travis, Snow Patrol, Coldplay, Shawn Colvin, Sarah McLaughlin and assorted other similar groups. The application Pandora is a great tool when I get tired of the music I already have. It’s set up to allow you to groups types of music or similar artists.

    I also like to use a lyric as a basis for a story.

    • Love, love, love acoustic guitar on its own. Simple, but powerful. I’ll have to check out Pandora, too. Thanks!

  • Since music is one of my passions in life I absolutely love this! For me music and writing go hand and hand it’s always been my #1 source of not only inspiration for my writing but a mood booster. In fact this music head can’t even work without her headphones LOL.

    • Music has the power to gear you up for the day. That’s why I play music while I’m cleaning—so I don’t just fall asleep on the floor instead 😉

  • I work in radio so I NEVER write to music. But invariably I find a soundtrack forming as the story comes to life. What I love is when the songs are not what you expect. For example, I finished a violent, paranoid thriller and the soundtrack was mostly Leonard Cohen. Go figure!

    • That’s very interesting, Sheila. Would never have pictured Leonard Cohen inspiring a thriller!

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  • This is a fabulous idea. I’m a musician and always always inspired by music. Some songs (especially ones I’ve known and loved for a long time) can put me in the perfect mood to write. Pandora is great too if you want to fixate on the mood of a certain song/artist.

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  • Calderonj39

    the way i write music is by things ive been through like the things that hurt me like my ex is my ispiration cause we been through alot

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