It can be hard to sit down and start writing. \r\n\r\nMaybe it\u2019s been a while since you\u2019ve worked on your manuscript. Maybe you\u2019re stuck on a scene that\u2019s particularly tricky to write. Or maybe you\u2019re just not in the right mood, but you want to be.\r\n\r\nWell, we've got a tried and true method of getting yourself in the groove for writing: a writing playlist.\r\n\r\nRead on for everything you need to know about creating a killer playlist to get you in the zone for writing!\r\nWhat is a writing playlist?\r\nA writing playlist is any music playlist that helps you write.\r\n\r\nSome writers need complete silence to get the words flowing. But for those of us who enjoy some background music, finding the perfect writing playlist is essential.\r\n\r\nThere are some existing playlists on Spotify, but every writer is different and has their own writing practices and habits, which means every writer tends to have their own writing playlist preferences.\r\nWhy make a writing playlist?\r\nWe\u2019ve all had those days when we\u2019re sitting at our computer, hands hovering over the keyboard, ready to write\u2026 but not a word comes out. In this situation, a writing playlist can be like a jumpstart. \r\n\r\nOur senses are strongly linked to memory and recognition. If you can use your playlist to help your brain associate certain songs with writing, you\u2019ll be able to kickstart yourself almost immediately each time you hit play.\r\n\r\nAdditionally, a writing playlist is great for setting a mood. Create an environment with sound. Use your music as a source of inspiration.\u00a0\r\n\r\nA bonus benefit: if you don\u2019t live alone, your partner, family or roommates will start to recognise your writing playlist. It\u2019s a good sign for them to leave you to work for a while before popping by to chat!\r\nWhat is the best app to create a playlist?\r\nThere are plenty of music apps available. The best one to create a playlist for writers is the music app you use the most. \r\n\r\nThe key is to choose an app and stick to it. Jumping from app to app can be confusing and time-consuming, which means less writing.\r\n\r\nA lot of people use Spotify to create their playlists. There are a few reasons for this: Spotify's music offering is huge, it\u2019s free to stream any song from the library, and playlists are sharable.\r\nGeneral guidelines for writing playlists\r\nYou can make a playlist for writing with whichever songs work for you, but there are certain patterns that tend to emerge with all writing playlists. \r\n\r\nConsider the following points before jumping in, and you might be able to save yourself some time.\r\nAvoid lyrics\r\nLyrics are great for telling a story, and they can work really well in a story or book playlist (which we\u2019ll talk about below). But for the practice of writing, lyrics can be distracting rather than motivating.\r\n\r\nTry to stick to instrumental music to ensure you stay focused.\r\n\r\nImage via Pexels\r\nDon\u2019t pick too many songs you absolutely love\r\nBy the end of your draft, you might be totally sick of the songs in your writing playlist, at least for a little while. \r\n\r\nPick songs that you enjoy but that don\u2019t have a strong emotional significance, lest you never want to hear them again!\u00a0\r\nExplore beyond your comfort zone\r\nSo you mostly listen to country pop, but your book is set in Renaissance England? You're probably going to have to branch out from your usual artists!\r\n\r\nTry out new genres to find music (and inspiration) you otherwise might never have come across.\r\nKeep it alive\r\nYour writing playlist is always in motion. You\u2019ll always be adding to it. And that\u2019s a good thing! Your playlist should grow with you and with your writing.\r\n\r\nEvery time you stumble across a new song that's inspiring, motivating or relevant to your story, be sure to add it to your playlist.\r\nWhat does a writing playlist need?\r\nThere are a few things every writer should consider when building their writing playlist. \r\n\r\nBefore you get too deep into your music app and start adding every song you love, take a moment to consider what you actually need, and what will boost your creative process.\r\nWhat\u2019s your writing style? What music works for you?\r\nSome writers love listening to their favourite songs while they write. For them, it turns writing into a party. Other writers favour mellow tones that create a soft wave of sound in the background.\r\n\r\nSome people love listening to lyrics, especially if they find them motivating. Others find that lyrics get distracting. (Ever accidentally start writing down the lyrics you\u2019re hearing instead of the dialogue you meant to write?!)\r\n\r\nThink about your preferences and the way you work best, and tailor your playlist to suit.\r\nDo you need multiple writing playlists?\r\nSome writers will have just one writing playlist; others will have multiple.\r\n\r\nTry creating one playlist for each genre or category you write in. You might need a young adult playlist, a kid\u2019s lit playlist, a sci-fi playlist, and a historical playlist.\r\n\r\nAlternatively, you might want a different playlist for different parts of writing: brainstorming, plotting, world-building, dialogue\/character development, and so on.\u00a0\r\n\r\nFinally, you might simply want to create a separate playlist for each manuscript you write.\r\n\r\nThe best thing is that you can make as many playlists as you want. You just have to know where to start.\r\nHow to make a playlist for writing\r\nMuch like writing itself, you can take a planner or a pantser approach to making a writing playlist.\u00a0\r\n\r\nA planner might look at other writing playlists and pull a few songs from each into a master playlist that works for them. They might dedicate an entire day to researching and building their perfect playlist.\r\n\r\nA pantser, on the other hand, might just add any song that takes their fancy when they\u2019re listening to music on shuffle, building their playlist on the fly. \r\n\r\nJust like there\u2019s no correct way to write, there\u2019s no correct approach to creating a playlist. Just remember that you will probably need to go edit your playlist to get it to the stage you want it to be at. \r\n\r\nAnd whether you\u2019re a pantser, a planner, or a plantser, no matter how you create your playlist (or how you write), the first step is finding inspiration.\r\n\r\nImage via Pexels\r\nWriting playlist inspiration and ideas\r\nIf you don\u2019t already have songs in mind for your writing playlist, starting from scratch can be intimidating. Fortunately, there are plenty of sources of inspiration for writing playlists.\r\nOther writing playlists\r\nPlenty of writers before you have put time and effort into creating inspiring playlists. Start by searching your music app of choice for key terms like 'writing'.\u00a0 \r\n\r\nIf you use Spotify, the brand itself has even made a playlist: Music for Writing: Piano music to accompany and inspire your writing. But don't stop there \u2013 user-generated playlists are often even better.\r\n\r\nYou might even find your favourite author has some public playlists, like Claribel Ortega\u2019s Middle Grade Fantasy playlist for writers, or Sabaa Tahir's playlists for her debut novel\u00a0An Ember in the Ashes.\r\n\r\nCheck your favourite author\u2019s website or social media to see if they\u2019ve published a writing playlist you can listen to or use for inspiration.\r\nMovie soundtracks\r\nSometimes, authors get asked what soundtrack would accompany their story if it were turned into a film. But when you\u2019re still writing the story, why not turn this idea on its head and soundtrack your story from the get-go?\r\n\r\nFor best results, choose a movie in the same genre as your work. A rom-com playlist, for example, might not compliment an action-driven sci-fi story.\r\n\r\nTV shows work well too, if you favour the small screen.\u00a0If you\u2019re writing fantasy, why not put on the soundtrack from Shadow and Bone, or one of Ramin Djawadi's epic Game of Thrones scores?\r\n\r\nTry searching around for a soundtrack that fits either the vibe of your writing project or your personal writing style.\r\nVideo game soundtracks\r\nMovie and TV soundtracks are great for immersing us in the story, but there\u2019s another medium that\u2019s even more immersive, where the music has to be downright experiential: video games.\r\n\r\nWhether you\u2019re a gamer or not, there\u2019s a whole world of video game soundtracks to explore and pull from to build your writing playlist. \r\n\r\nThe majority of the music used in video game soundtracks doesn\u2019t have lyrics, which makes it perfect for when you just need background music for your own words.\r\n\r\nAlmost all video games feature original scores. You\u2019ll find songs designed specifically to capture you in a moment, to make you feel the emotions you\u2019re acting out with your in-game character. \r\n\r\nAll the better for creating your own emotion-fuelled scenes.\r\n\r\nImage via Pexels\r\n\r\nTry exploring a variety of different game genres to find songs to inspire you, pump you up and help you power through another chapter.\r\n\r\nAction games like the Assassin\u2019s Creed franchise have great scores for writing sneaky moments as well as fight scenes. High fantasy stories like Skyrim and Dragon Age: Inquisition are full of epic, moving moments and music to go with them.\r\n\r\nRhythm games like Crypt of the Necrodancer have beat-heavy tracks to keep you going, while charming games like Untitled Goose Game are accompanied by soothing music that\u2019s perfect for a relaxing day of writing.\r\nAmbient noise\r\nWhile some writers listen to soundtracks, instrumental songs and mellow music, others need ambient noise.\r\n\r\nSome people do their best work in a caf\u00e9 or in a park. The sounds of life around them inspire them to create fantastic stories. But a caf\u00e9 or park isn\u2019t always available. What if the urge to start writing hits at 2am?\r\n\r\nAmbient noise playlists for writers are becoming more and more popular \u2013 especially after 2020, when a lot of people couldn\u2019t leave their homes. If you thrive on soft, ambient sound, make yourself a playlist full of it!\r\n\r\nYou don't need to have a musical or orchestral soundtrack in the background of your writing. If you work best while listening to coffee shop noise, that\u2019s great! You\u2019ve found your muse.\r\nHow to Make a Story Playlist\r\nWe mentioned earlier that some writers create a soundtrack for their book as if it were a movie. A story playlist is a bit like that.\r\n\r\nThis involves creating a playlist to suit one particular story, such as the novel you're currently working on or planning to write.\r\n\r\nSome story playlists will follow the beats of the story; a sad song corresponds to a sad moment in the story, and so on. Other story playlists are designed to capture the energy of a story or a book as a whole.\r\nWhy make a story playlist?\r\nWhile a writing playlist is usually designed to help you get in the zone to write, a story playlist that captures the narrative movement or overall feeling of a book can simply be fun to make. \r\n\r\nIt's also an excellent exercise to ensure you understand your story and its various beats.\u00a0\r\n\r\nStory playlists are also shareable, and you can use them to generate interest in your book \u2013 to engage audiences and tease what to expect in the story.\r\nMood or narrative \u2013 which is more important?\r\nIf you\u2019re making a playlist for a specific story, you will often have to decide which you want to prioritise with your music: the mood of your story, or the narrative of your story.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIf translating the narrative arc of your story into music is your goal, choose songs to represent the key beats of the narrative and take listeners on a journey.\r\n\r\nIf the mood or the vibe of your story playlist is the most important part, that\u2019s great too. Explore genres and artists to find songs that feel like they match the energy of your story.\r\n\r\nImage via Pexels\r\nExamples of story playlists from writers\r\n\r\n \tThe playlist for You Were Made for Me by Jenna Guillaume captures the energy of this YA book. It\u2019s full of teen angst, romance and crushes, and girl power.\r\n \tThe playlist for a different type of romance story, Chloe Gong\u2019s These Violent Delights, contains songs that are full of drama to match the vibe of this Romeo & Juliet retelling.\r\n \tFor V. E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Tor Books\u00a0put together a playlist for the epic saga of the titular character. It's full of melancholy, city atmospheres, and French language songs to tie in with the themes and settings of the book.\r\n \tYou can also make playlists for your characters \u2013 that is, a playlist that a character might listen to themselves. Nina Varela did this for her two leads from Crier\u2019s War, Crier and Ayla. Each of their playlists feature songs that represent who they are through the music they would listen to.\r\n\r\nReviewing your writing playlist\r\nLike any creative work, once you\u2019ve created your playlist, take the time to review it. Put on your editing cap and analyse it.\r\nDoes your writing playlist work?\r\nWe all know that a first draft is never perfect, and that goes for playlists too. But you won\u2019t know where you need to fix, edit or alter your playlist until you use it.\u00a0\r\n\r\nTry to take notes and keep track of which songs work well for you. Did that soft instrumental relax you a little too much? Maybe leave it for a non-writing Sunday afternoon playlist instead.\r\n\r\nIf you notice yourself working well to certain tracks, check out the rest of that album or see what else that artist has produced. Maybe they have even more songs to help you write.\u00a0\r\nSave it for later\r\nWriters often have to cut out scenes or even whole characters that they love, but that just don\u2019t fit the story they\u2019re writing right now.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIf you have some songs that you love, but that are distracting you from your writing, remove them from your current playlist. But like scenes and characters, you can save them for your next project.\r\n\r\nAbove we mentioned the idea of having multiple writing playlists. Why not explore that possibility? \r\n\r\nSave that one song that doesn\u2019t feel right for writing your YA drama for your next story about swashbuckling pirates!\r\nI\u2019ve got a writing playlist \u2013 now what?\r\nSo, you\u2019ve made the perfect writing playlist. Now it's time to put it to use and start writing.\r\n\r\nOf course, you might want to add some finishing touches \u2013 write a description, perfect the track order, add some cover art. But don't let your playlist become a procrastination tool!\r\n\r\nYou\u2019re armed and ready to tackle the writing challenge that\u2019s ahead of you. So put on your headphones and get started!