Monday, April 15, 2013

Foster Pavlovian Creativity with Music

I mentioned in my post about iTunes that most of the time, I write to the Bach unaccompanied suites for cello (the version recorded by Yo-Yo Ma). It was through this that I started to understand the power of Music in my writing routine.

I always start my cello playlist with the first suite, first movement, "Prelude." And after a long time, I started to notice something. Hearing the opening bars of Prelude would bring up issues in my work; either a spark of creativity for where to go next, an idea for a future scene down the road, or a way to go forward with something I'd gotten stuck on.

The music itself was creating the idea in my mind: "It's time to write."

Now, this tip probably isn't for everyone. Some people need silence when they write, or they really need to hear something different every time. However, it can be worth trying at least for a little while. There are lots of studies out there showing that routine and ritual are some of the keys to good habits, and incorporating sound into your routine to elicit a particular response...

...well, Pavlov discovered the value of that technique ages ago.

Not Yo-Yo, of course, but uploaded by the performer himself. Here there be no pirates!

This month I'm participating in the A-Z blog challenge. My theme is "writer hacks," or 26 shortcuts you can do as a writer to get the most out of writing and the journey toward and through publication. Find out more about it at, and hop around to read the other cool blogs that are part of the challenge! 


  1. I need silence but music is a great thing still.

    1. Well, it's not universal advice. :) Actually, it's funny--with my academic work, I work in total silence with a ticking timer for the "Pomodoro Method" of time management. But for writing, I've found music a boon. But yay for silent workers, too!

  2. I like to listen to music, music without words, so I often put on my instrumental cds. Anything fast makes me rush in my work and my writing so I like listening to guitar, cello, flute etc. Love this post!

    Denise at Organization and Inspiration for Fellow Writers, participant of A to Z Blogging Challenge
    Denise Reashore on Facebook

  3. I've sometimes found "brainwave entrainment" cds help get me out of procrastination mode!

    1. Oooh, I will definitely have to check those out!


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