10 Songs to Help You Focus and Write

songs to write to

Music is a curious part of our culture. It’s embedded into our physical life and our digital life.

When we work out, wake up, try to sleep, get married, celebrate holidays, or even just sip coffee, we have a soundtrack that fits.

Here are 10 hand-picked songs to write to, focus, and get your tedious/busy work completed. Feel free to share your personal favorites in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!

1. Write About Love – Belle and Sebastian

This song has a hint of a vintage sound that’ll put you in a good mood from the start. The theme centers on how writing can be used to change mood in a positive way, so it’s great if you’re trying to practice it for therapeutic reasons.

2. Hope Hung High – Goldheart Assembly

Released several years ago, but still relevant today, it’s an encouraging tune that features lyrics like “Keep a grip upon your load” and “Keep a wise and empty mind.” The second bit of advice could be useful if racing thoughts are stifling your creativity.

3. Zadig – The Winter Line

This one is based on a Voltaire novel and uses rich descriptiveness to paint pictures in the listener’s mind. The song’s protagonist muses how he wants to be known as someone characterized by “a love that was shared wholly, a life that was well spent,” so give it a try if you’re depending on writing as a way to help others or be an activist. Whenever I hear this song I think about achieving grand projects and endeavors, like building a highway or sailing the world. Of course, I’m not going to go out and buy construction equipment from Empire-CAT, but I will have the motivation to write something especially grand.

4. Amidine – Bombino

This song is sung in the Tamashek language by an African artist. Although you may not be able to understand the words spoken, its hypnotic qualities are great if you often have music on in the background as you write to help with concentration.

5. O Maria! – Sea Wolf

Skillfully using animal imagery and nature themes, this artist sings about everyday happenings with a beautiful artistic slant. The driving beat is fantastic for energizing your mind and keeping it engaged.

6. The Sun Also Sets – Ryan Adams

This talented singer-songwriter is perpetually able to chronicle common human emotions through song. In this piece, he laments about how written correspondence might ease the sting of a breakup, just because he longs to know how an ex-partner is doing. One of my buddies with indoor air problems who also happens to be a freelance writer was telling me about how the airflow problems were crippling his writing. He recommended this Ryan Adams song because even with inconsistent temperatures he was able to focus and get his work done.

7. Don’t Forget – Brett Dennen

Use this one if the frequent solitude of writing is making you feel a little lonely. By urging, “Open all your windows and let the music spill out,” Dennen reminds the listener to embrace free expression.

8. The Funeral – Band of Horses

Already a part of some other writers’ playlists, this tune deserves a place in yours too. Arpeggios pair with haunting vocals and the song soon builds into a lovely and coordinated burst of sound.

9. Love Interruption – Jack White

Good songs for writing need to be powerful enough to stir your emotions without being distracting. Here, White details the conflicting emotions of love, and the innovative way he does that will inspire you.

10. Holiday – Electric Guest

The breezy, laid-back song of this tune will make you feel like you’ve escaped to an island getaway even if you’re spending the night putting pen to paper. It emphasizes how even fleeting pleasures can provide long-lasting strength.

While some of these songs directly discuss writing as an essential part of life, others just have the necessary ingredients for helping your mind stay refreshed as you fill the role of a wordsmith. Also, many of them are songs released several years ago, proving that good music has the power to be timeless. Create a fresh playlist with these ideas today whether you’re a writer by trade or just need to finish a complicated writing assignment in record time.

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Jesse Aaron

I'm a blogger, homebrewer, and community manager. Aside from writing, I have a passion for music and design.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hey Jesse

    I’m ashamed to say I don’t know any of the songs you’ve mentioned.

    I’ve sent this post to Evernote though so I can follow it up.

    I don’t tend to listen to music when I write but it’s worth giving it a try!

    • No worries! I actually didn’t expect many people to recognize most of these songs – they’re recent discoveries for me as well. Thanks for saving it in Evernote!

      Yea sometimes I just enjoy natural sound (no music) when I write, but 95% of time when I need to hammer down I put on some playlists. Sometimes it’s jazz, other times it’s electronic or ambient. This particular playlist is a bit different and gives me a more cheerful/emotional mood so I figured it was worth sharing.

      What are some of your favorite songs or bands – just in general?

  • Fantastic list! I love Sea Wolf, especially. You may have prompted me to return to more music references in my blog posts!

    • Thanks Mallie, I’m glad you enjoyed it! About 90% of the time I’m listening to yellow jackets or weather report (any kind of fusion jazz is up my ally) – this list was inspired from songs my friends have shared recently and I’ve sorta been collecting them in Spotify. These particular 10 feel like they all share a similar mood, kind of distant but relaxed and emotional, which is oddly a mood that helps me focus and write.

  • An interesting list! I listen to music all the time when writing but never new stuff. I’ve always found I need music like an old pair of sneakers. Something I enjoy, I’m comfortable with but nothing that requires effort. So I always end up listening to old favourites instead of breaking in new music. I’ll give this list a go and see if inspiration strikes!

    • Hey Jamie thanks for dropping by – glad you found this selection interesting! I also have a go-to list, kind of like the “old pair of sneakers” metaphor you described, but I use it to get through general monotony – anything that’s super tedious. What are some of your old favourites?

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