Let’s face it: The world is loud and noisy and very annoying. And you, dear friend, are a humble writer just trying to focus and get some words down on the page. You’ve tried everything around the house. Some Netflix (too distracting; that Dave Chappelle spec is too funny). Cooking something that takes a while (Almost burned the house down, you klutz). Frantic masturbation (No free hands because something has to get rid of the pop-ups. And no, don’t try using that, even with a touch screen. It hurts). Fact is you need something to turn on and bend to your will and tune out the outside world. A place to escape into. A music playlist tailored especially for when you need to get cracking on the writing thing is a great choice. Here’s some easy ways to help you create the best setlist ever and become the envy of anyone who ever said you had a shit taste in music.
Amount of Music
I get bored with songs easily. Like, real easily. People who say that songs get better the more you listen to them need to get their hippie bullshit out of my face. I can get a song stuck in my head after one listen. It’s a fucking curse. The skip button over the years has become my best friend. Sometimes I’ll pause a song I like (usually to talk to someone because people don’t like when you keep an earbud in when you talk to them. Guess it’s rude or something) and come back to it and reach for the button. Next song. I’ll be in the middle of a great part of a great song that hasn’t gotten old yet and skip it anyway. Fuck it. There’s probably something better on the next track.
It gets worse when I write. It shows in the playlist. I’ve only been a full-time Spotify guy for three months and already my writing playlist is 332 songs long. That is 22 hours and 39 minutes of music. I could not possibly digest all of that at once. I would get very bored having to sit somewhere for 22 hours. And also I would probably die.
You think that’s bad? Take a look at the tracks on my SD card. After seven years’ worth of music downloads I have trimmed that writing playlist down to 547 songs. The longest it has ever been is 603 songs. No word on how long either would last, because that thing isn’t measured by the app. I’m sure it’d break trying to calculate that.
Sure, you probably don’t need that many. But you need enough to get you through your productivity time. The worst thing to do is get bored and lose precious minutes hitting the skip button because you have to find something good.
And if you aren’t a poser piece of shit I’m sure you’ve got good stuff on there.
How You Get Your Music
Back when Pandora was a thing I tried using it as a writing aid. Back when it was a thing my phone was a broken piece of shit that crashed every five minutes and got temperamental around other people, refusing every command. What a true reflection of self. Back then I’d have to stay hooked to a computer at school or in a library with the headphones glued to the station in order to be able to access radio stations that shuffled at random and constantly repeated the same tracks that I could only skip three times.
Eventually I got a new phone and could do all that quality station skipping while sitting on my couch at home. Of course, my writing playlist was in its infant years. Barely two hundred songs. Adorable. But now, with this new mobile Pandora, I could listen to almost anything I wanted anytime at all. As long as I didn’t mind waiting ten minutes for the thing to buffer or only being able to skip three times or having to change the entire station if I was iwriting to ood for something else. What if it was something new and good and I wanted to know the name of it? What if it was instrumental and I had to find the name in order to be able to pick it out of the crowd? I’d end up looking at the phone screen more than the page in front of me, for Christ’s sake. And this is something you need to take into consideration.
As I said before I downloaded 98% of my music for over seven years and only stopped around this New Year’s. Sure, it’s easy as long as you know where to look and what to look for. What site you use and how long it lasts before it gets shut down. Long as you’re lucky enough to avoid viruses. Smart enough to not download directly to your phone because it will kill your storage. Careful enough to not accidentally delete your entire music catalog twice in one year because of the same computer error. I might be guilty of the last part. Point is, I did it for a long time. I’m not gonna stop you. But at heart it is inconvenient considering all of the other amazing ways you can connect to music these days. Don’t be afraid to try those other ways. Find an app that gives you the amount of songs and customization and organization you want, without having to look at the screen every fifteen seconds.
Not that you’d be distracted enough to anyway. Because you’ll be writing too much.
Of course, you’ll never want to hit that skip button if you surround yourself with good music. Maybe you’re lucky and only listen to like three artists in one genre and live content with your boring-ass life. Good for you, you lucky dimwit piece of shit.
For the rest of us-especially those like me who get bored with songs after two listens-we need range. Not just in artists, but in genre. You could be a fan of seventeen radically different types of music and isolate them in their own lists, thereby forcing yourself to switch between them when you tire of reggaeton and need some acid blues in your life. What beautiful organization.
Hear me out. It is so much easier to consolidate into one gigantic playlist, with the songs you like writing to all in one place. And if you’re looking for a place to start, I have a few suggestions. Find anthems that get your heart racing. Sad songs that bring you back to the dark place inside of you. Ambient instrumentals that clear your head so you can focus on putting words on the page. Storytelling tracks to coast you along. Angry tracks that help you channel it into something constructive. Chill tracks that relax you if you start getting a headache from all the angry songs.
Or, to be specific, here’s a few I’ve been digging lately.
Coming Home, Leon Bridges. First EP of what may be a great neo-soul career.
King of the Beach, Wavves. Lo-fi neo-surf swimming with serious attitude and a hint of bitter smoke.
Goa, Made in M/Smuv. Laid back piano chords and xylophone hits over a fuzzy hip-hop instrumental. Chill and ambient as all hell. I dig the hell out of this shit.
Reality Check, Noname feat. Eryn Allen Kane and Akenya. Hip-hop isn’t dead and the new crew hasn’t lost the lyricism or the storytelling. A great song for vibing to whenever you need.
Learn to Write in Silence
At the end of the day your music collection is a crutch to your writing. It means nothing unless you are putting words down. If it is your time to write, then you have to write.
The greatest skill to learn; and the one that takes the most training, is being able to sit by yourself in an empty room or a bus filled with other people and that one old guy breathing stale booze on your shoulder and writing anyway. It takes dedication. Do that, and you’ll be something close to professional.
The outside world was not designed to help you write. Sometimes you will have to force yourself. You will have to remind yourself that this is something you want.
At the end of the day, there is you and there is the page. That has to be enough.