How to Turn Your Book Idea into Money in the Bank, Step 4: The Soundtrack to Your Writing

Welcome back to our journey from Book Idea to Money in the Bank! So far we have covered (1) the vital and exciting Step of fantasizing your idea into life inside your mind (2) the importance of outlining your idea and everything you need in that outline (3) and finally we examined the actual act of writing in all its glorious and dirty detail. Today let’s discover the Soundtrack to your Writing.

As I’m sure you know, music can be motivating. The right song can make you feel invincible or full of ambition. Where it concerns writing, music is especially important; tracking down the right tunes and sounds help to place you in the proper motivated mindset. Certain tracks and genres can even enhance a scene if you listen to them while writing.


Some literary artists swear by their Enya or Meditation music; a number claim that only ocean sounds work for them; a few writers praise the focusing power of techno or alternative; still others swear by absolute silence—or by the natural sounds of the world.

J.K. Rowling created the world of Harry Potter inside a busy café (The Elephant House), as British baristas slung java and patrons groaned over their busy schedules. It seems incredible to me that anyone could write anything worthwhile in a crowded place. Probably it will remain a mystery to me. But it sure worked for her. Whatever works for you, go for it.

Here we are interested in extolling the virtues of discovering the right soundtrack for your novel writing experience.

So, onward and upward, my fellow travelers.

Music can drown out distractions from the world around the writer, so that she can focus on the world inside. The right music can enhance a scene as it is being written. According to PSYBLOG, listening to music boosts your verbal IQ—a clear benefit for any writer trying to get her point across. (Astute writers read their work aloud, as they know that verbalizing reveals awkward dialogue and poorly structured phrasing.)


An inspirational soundtrack will transform your writing from hum-drum to gorgeous, like a symphony being conducted by a master, rather than by an amateur with a hangover.

Go ahead and challenge yourself.

Select a scene you wish to write. Now, first write that scene in total silence, only the rapid clicking rhythm of your keyboard to sound the way. Then play a soundtrack from a movie like Interstellar, or Inception—whatever moves you.

Do you have it playing in the background of your world? Good, now, write that same scene. Forget whatever you wrote before. Begin anew, with a bright and shiny never-before-seen opening.

Once you’ve finished the scene, sit back and read both examples.

They are completely different, aren’t they? The second seems more alive, teeming with energy. It’s as if a different person wrote it. That is the wonder of finding the right soundtrack to your writing.

And it doesn’t need to stay the same, either. Specific sounds and scores work better for different types of scenes.

  • For fast-paced scenes you might listen to Trevor Rabin’s soundtrack to Gone in 60 Seconds, or Rimsky Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee, or Paganini’s virtuosic Moto Perpetuo.
  • To make sure your romantic scenes ooze beauty and sultriness, you might try having The Heart asks Pleasure First—the theme song for The Piano—play in the background as you write.
  • When writing descriptions of new places or locations in my books, I like to have the Game of Thrones Relaxing Music soundtrack playing; it is moving without being distracting, epic without being loud. It is a collection of songs from various seasons of the show, as composed by Ramin Djawadi (and provided on YouTube by Cat C).
  • A writing soundtrack is especially useful for period pieces. When writing something set in the nineteen twenties, for example, some good Louis Armstrong or Jelly Roll Morton tracks could help you capture the mood of the Roaring Twenties. Listen to Bach for an historical novel set in the seventeenth century.

Classical music (Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Schumann) helps writers reach for those power words and phrases that are vitally necessary for crafting dark, poetic, or highly charged scenes. It helps to convey the agony of the hero or the tragedy of his decisions as captured in words; and the optimum words are often discovered while absorbing the right harmonies and frequencies of music.

Buzzfeed offers a lovely post about writing soundtracks, offering various eclectic tunes for your perusal. Conveniently offered right there on the site, you won’t need to look far for that particular sweet sound you need. For more details and examples and links to help you narrow down all your writing soundtrack needs, check out Chapter 4 in Take it to the Bank.

Or maybe you have everything you need to start right here. If so, great.

Next time we will be exploring the importance of putting your writing aside for awhile to travel and gather inspiration. Discover why this writing-break is an essential Step in your journey from Idea to Money, and how to use it to improve your manuscripts.

Until then, Godspeed writers/publishers/marketing/earners!