Monday, January 13, 2014
Does Music Help With Writing?
I see a lot of authors who give playlists to accompany their books, and some of them even admit that they put that list on shuffle and just listen to it repeatedly during the writing process. We like to swap favorite songs and help each other find inspiration through them. But here's a question for you: Does listening to music while writing actually help the process?
This could very well be a subjective thing, but I'm putting on my scholarly glasses here, and trying to look at it from a scientific standpoint. Does writing to music maybe hinder our abilities? Or is it the best thing for us? Is there a certain type of music that is better to listen to?
Here's what I found.
There was a study done on Taiwanese college students to determine if music impacted their reading comprehension. Since writing and reading comprehension are pretty close, I figured it was better than a poke in the eye, right? The study compared reading comprehension between three test groups: reading without music, reading with classical music, and reading with hip hop music. I won't bore you with all the statistical jargon (mostly because I got a C in my college statistics class and I really wouldn't be able to tell you what most of it means anyway), and I'll get right down to the results. They used a point system, but it's not really important to understand how they were calculated or what they mean. Just know that higher is better and lower is not.
The non-music students got an average of 67. The classical students got 64, and the hip hop ones got 58.
So, okay, what does that mean? Based on this study, your comprehension and focus would probably be optimal with silence.
And I found another interesting study done on surgeons to see if music affected their performance at all. The results said kind of the same thing--they did better with silence.
But wait, you say. Hold on a second. I'm a writer who needs music! Silence is too distracting. I can't focus without it.
So here's my theory with that. Because all my academic searching kept telling me silence was the best method for concentration, I figured that maybe writing is just a different process than comprehension or concentration. It's an emotional thing, too. When we write, we are channeling the thoughts and feelings of each character we portray, and that takes a lot of emotional juice we sometimes don't have on hand. And that might be where music comes into play.
I, myself, actually can't write with music going on in the background. I need it for inspiration, however. My best ideas come when I'm listening to music and cleaning my house, actually. Which means sometimes I actually want to do the dishes, and hey, everyone wins there. But when I'm actually writing, silence produces the best results for me.
www.rainymood.com as a soothing rainstorm background.
And then again, if you like your favorite band droning away as you type, that's cool too! Everyone is different, especially when it comes to the writing process.
But it's food for thought.
How about it writers. Do you listen to music when you write? What is your favorite kind of music to use as background noise or inspiration?