listen to music to help you write faster


Some people find music totally distracting and other people can’t work without it. I find that I don’t fall on one side or the other. There are times when I need to work in total silence, and music is a total distraction. However, in reality, total silence can never be achieved and the next best thing is a constant stream of background noise that blocks out other noises that are more distracting. For example, if I can hear people having a conversation when I’m trying to work, I find it very distracting because even if I don’t realise it, I’m subconsciously listening and if I hear something that relates to me, I would completely loose concentration. However if I had in some headphones with some music on, I wouldn’t be able to hear anything of the conversation so I couldn’t be distracted by it. It’s the same way in libraries – generally very quite places, the slightest pin drop causes everyone to swivel round and see what it was. With background music this doesn’t tend to happen. Of course the music has to be a specific type. You don’t wan’t the music to distract you, just be there in the background to drown out other distractions.


I found that listening to music helped me write a lot faster in a very unexpected way. I was listening to a song on Youtube while writing one day and then it finished, and there was nothing else in the playlist afterwards, so the music went dead. Instead of immediately going to find another track I said to myself, you can put another song on, after you’ve written another 100 words. I quickly wrote the 100 words and then put on another song, but this time, while the song was playing, I couldn’t help thinking – what if I can write another 100 words before the end of the song? That was it! Race on! I typed faster than I had done all day and just about managed 100 words by the end of the song. When the song finished and before I played another one, I wrote another 100 words and so the cycle continued. 100 words while listening to a song, 100 words while waiting to listen to a song. It sounds incredibly simple but it works like a dream. While the song is playing you are stimulated by the music and while you are waiting for a song, you are stimulated by the reward of a song at the end of your 100 words.


This works great for me when writing because it PREVENTS me from thinking too much. It stops me worrying about what I’m writing and if it sounds good because that is not important when you initially write. HOWEVER…. I cannot listen to music when I am trying to edit and refine something that I have previously written, I simply cannot think and concentrate on the exact problems which I face, so I would not recommend listening to music while editing you draft.


That being said, the way people work and write are very personal and one of my main aims with this blog is to give food for thought with some of the many ways I have tried, both successfully and unsuccessfully to work.


Give it a try, at the very least you’ll get to listen to some of your favourite music :)

  • http://mystudiouslife.wordpress.com Jennifer

    I need to have my music while working. I don’t actually listen to you like I should enjoy it, but like you said, it helps block out other noise in the background. Extremely useful to me. I must try your ‘racing’ method in writing then. Hehe!

    • Ben

      Yes it really helps. Give the method a try, I don’t think everyone will like it but even if it just helps to give you a kick start into writing it will be useful. It’s just like a shorter version of the Pomodoro method with a beat :)

  • http://twitter.com/rajvihawk Rajvi

    I normally listen to kenny g while I am writing since that helps me to give a nice flow to my thoughts. However, I haven’t tried your racing against music strategy but sounds exciting..will try!

    • http://www.literaturereviewhq.com/ Ben

      Yea give it a try. I like to experiment with music as well. Fast loud music can block your thinking process and makes you write faster, it can help you write more freely – then when you need to think an bit more put on a bit of kenny g

      Let me know how it goes :)

  • ahmons_angel

    I have a similar problem when it comes to music whilst writing, sometimes it works wonders and other times it destroys my ability to write because I’m too focused on the vocals. I tend to, these days, choose melodies rather than music with lyrics as it’s a whole lot easier to work with.

    Your method sounds pretty interesting and I may give it a try!!

    • http://www.literaturereviewhq.com/ Ben

      Yes you’re right. You do have to be careful which music you choose. Let me know how it goes :)

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  • misha

    I always write when listening to music,I find the best is Native American Drumming, it has no lyrics just chanting

  • Bobby Bain

    I’ve just began writing to music and find that it dramatically helps the writing process. Perhaps the muse comes out dancing to the beats of whatever song you are listening to and thus, you are more able minded with creativity dancing about.
    Listening to a playlist I write roughly 1,000 words per hour and most recently completed 3,000 plus words in three hours.

    • http://www.literaturereviewhq.com/ Ben

      Wow that’s great! Do you find the quality of your writing with music is any different?