Get In The Mood: Level Up Your Writing Soundtrack

Help your mind focus while having a little fun by setting up a custom writing playlist

Get In The Mood: Level Up Your Writing Soundtrack
Photo by Eric Nopanen / Unsplash

My home office is a hub of distraction.

My laptop sits on a stand, acting as a second screen for my main monitor, keyboard, and trackpad set up. Next to that screen is a TV with Netflix at the ready, should iTunes on the laptop not meet my mood. And let’s not forget the various toys and fidget spinners that litter the desk.

I go through different moods when it comes to how I engage all these screens. Sometimes I prefer to work while Gilmore Girls is binging on Netflix. Other times I have iTunes playing whatever the latest recommended playlist is. Sometimes I just work in silence. There isn’t a lot of rhyme or reason to it.

When I interviewed Ron Dawson for This Week In Writing, I learned he created a writing soundtrack to play while writing his book. The soundtrack is a carefully curated list of songs that put him in the right state of mind for writing the book. It’s a brilliant idea. Plus, who doesn’t love a mixtape?

Here are a few reasons you should consider creating your own writing playlist rather than using something made by someone else or an algorithm somewhere:

Set The Tone

Creating your own soundtrack lets you set the tone for your work. Ron chose songs ranging from his childhood memories to hip-hop legends. My soundtrack is filled with songs that put a smile on my face. Listening to music that always makes me happy will set the tone for everything I write. If I’m feeling good, feeling positive, then I’m more inclined to create.


Why do I often binge Gilmore Girls while working? It’s familiar. I’ve seen the show a half dozen times all the way through, so I know what antics Rory and Paris will be up to. A personalized playlist provides the same familiarity without the distraction of a second screen. When a-ha proclaims “Take on Me,” a sense of comfort rolls through my whole body. My brain listens without engaging, allowing it to focus on what I’m working on.


I’m using whimsy a lot lately, but it’s entirely appropriate here. There’s something a lot of fun about crafting the perfect playlist. Every song is a story, and every placement has meaning. Sure, crafting the playlist is another form of distraction, but it’s also a lot of fun. When creating mine, I asked on Twitter and Instagram to suggest mood-lifting songs, and people. came. through! How could I forget Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” or Three Dog Night’s “Shambala”?


If all this sounds like a bit much for you, I get that. I have a second playlist for times when I absolutely need to focus and get things done. This playlist is made up of every soundtrack from Game of Thrones. You want to get into an epic state of mind, blast Game of Thrones music for ten hours. Ramin Djawadi knows how to get those brain juices flowing. Hit play and let your fingers start typing.

Whatever your writing style, there’s a perfect playlist out there for you. Take a few minutes (or hours, or days) and craft your ideal writing soundtrack. And if you need a little inspiration, check out Ron Dawson’s soundtrack on his website or mine below. Do you have a writing soundtrack? Share the details or, at the very least, the song that gets you ready to write.

Write Now by Justin Cox
Playlist · 72 Songs