My writing soundtrack looks like this:
That white empty space after the colon is the sound of silence.
Like most humans, I do enjoy music—but never while I’m writing.
I can write through ambient noise like cafe chatter, traffic, or lawn mowers. If my neighbors turn up their stereo, though, my brain sticks on the lyrics or the melody or the drum beat, and my thoughts can’t move forward.
Silence allows me to reflect, to be still, and to listen for the story. It allows my mind to settle in and focus. In that quiet still place, characters, complications, and connections emerge.
If someone has their music on loud enough that I can hear, even faintly, I will turn on a fan or, sometimes, play classical music or an orchestral soundtrack to cover it.
But I always prefer to write in the closest thing to silence I can get.
(For someone who is writing a short story collection based on Warren Zevon songs, this may seem strange. It’s true that listening to Warren Zevon has inspired many ideas, but if I try to listen to his music while I’m writing for extra inspiration, I wind up just listening to the music instead of writing.)