Saturday, December 1, 2012

Playlists for Writers

This week on the blog, we've been talking about playlists for our novels. It’s a well-known fact that music has a very powerful effect on our emotions – who hasn't sat in the cinema with a lump in their throat as the violins swell during an emotionally fraught scene? And who hasn't found themselves pressing down a little harder on the gas pedal while listening to an energetic song in the car? (For more info on the impact of music on driving, take a look here).

Lots of writers I know listen to music while writing. Just as many insist on complete silence. I’m in the second category – anything with lyrics would have me singing along. And even instrumental pieces can be a distraction. But I do listen to music when preparing to write a scene or to when I'm about to revise it. Listening to music can either reinforce your mood (now I’m feeling even more energetic!!!) or alter it (just had a fight with the significant someone but need to write that kissing scene). Furthermore, associating a song with a chapter can really help launch you right back into the emotions of that scene when you've been away from it for a while.

Compiling a playlist to go along with your novel is now so commonplace it’s practically a cliché, but it’s one cliché I enjoy. I’ll be posting the complete playlist for After Eden over on my blog soon. But in the meantime, here are a few tracks that helped me get in the mood for a stargazing scene, along with the book's 'theme song'.

Theme Song

What If We Could by Blue October. I love the energy of this song. And the sense of possibilities. These lyrics sum up so much of what it’s all about:

I’m glad to say that we've met
But I’m sad to say that the circumstances weren't
On our side 

Songs for a scene

Early on in the book, there’s a stargazing scene where Ryan teaches Eden some of the constellations. I have three songs I associate with this scene:

1. Drops of Jupiter by Train - Tracing her way through the constellation ...

2. Yellow by Coldplay  - Look at the stars, look how they shine for you ... 

3. Porcelain by Moby  - This one just has me imaging the starry sky on a gorgeous night. Stars exploding overhead and the night full of what might be.

What are your favorite novel playlists? We'd love you to share them with us.

Helen Douglas writes books for young adults. AFTER EDEN, her debut novel, will be published by Bloomsbury in July 2013. You can learn more at, and connect with Helen on Twitter @helenmdouglas.


  1. Love Drops of Jupiter! I think it's really useful to have music to help you out, whether you listen to it before you write, or listening while you write. I listen while I right, but if something requires extra concentration, I'll listen to strictly instrumental. Now, to think of my own playlists...

  2. I love Coldplay. It's interesting to read your choices! I actually have a station for my current novel.

  3. Thanks. I love listening to other writers' playlists - interesting to link them to their books.

  4. I'm seeing Train this weekend! Great suggestions. I'm one who prefers music all the time when I write.