With or without music?

The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog recently posted an entry regarding the writing process, exploring whether or not it’s helpful to listen to music while one writes. For the author of the blog post, music is too distracting while writing and causes her to hum along and crank the speakers instead of writing. I have the same issues, which may be surprising considering my first chapbook of poems, Front Man, consists of narrative poems about a front man of a punk rock band. But I can promise you not a single one of those poems were drafted or revised while I had music cranking through I-pod headphones or pumping through my turntable’s speakers. Like the blog post’s author, I get too distracted.

My writing process is pretty strict in the sense that I do most of my writing in the early morning hours. I try to get in a good half hour of journaling, drafting, and revising before leaving my apartment to teach. The rest of my writing is done in the evening, after dinner, and again, without music or distractions.

I still collect records and catch live bands when I can (though it’s less and less as I get older), but for me, music is separate from writing. Most of what I listen to now is on vinyl, so I have to carve out a chunk of time to listen to those records, just as I carve out time during the day to write.

Everyone’s writing process is different. I’ve had students in creative writing classes that need to plug their ears with I-Pod headphones while we write in class. For me, I need silence after I spin the records and I’m ready to write.

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About Brian Fanelli

I'm a poet, teacher, music junkie and much more. My first chapbook of poems, Front Man, was published in 2010 by Big Table Publishing. My full-length book of poems, All That Remains, was published in 2013 by Unbound Content. My latest book, Waiting for the Dead to Speak, was published in the fall of 2016 by NYQ Books. My work has also been published by The Los Angeles Times, World Literature Today, Harpur Palate, Boston Literary Magazine, Kentucky Review, Verse Daily, Spillway, Portland Review, and several other publications. My poetry has also been featured on "The Writer's Almanac" with Garrison Keillor. Currently, I teach English full-time at Lackawanna College.
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2 Responses to With or without music?

  1. It really depends on my mood. Sometimes I have music on…other times I don’t. However, the only types of music I’ll listen to are either jazz or classical. I cannot listen to anything else while writing. It is far too distracting. Even when I do have music on, it’s at a very low volume. Complete silence has a tendency to drive me mad, so the background melodies are comforting.

    • Interesting response, Dale. What’s funny is that even though I can never listen to music while writing, a lot of times I do writing in cafes…. I like that kind of background noise, but any kind of music makes it difficult for me to write.

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