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Music for Writing

When I think of habits, the first thing that comes to mind is bad. Bad habits. But then I realized, not all habits have to be bad. What is a habit?

According to Google:


1. a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

“he has an annoying habit of interrupting me”

While most habits can be considered neutral, the obvious ones aren’t. Smoking, biting your nails, forcing yourself to vomit after each meal can be objectively classified as bad. Eliminating such habits should improve your life.

I’ve written in the past about conditioning myself to work with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. The coffee isn’t harmful (though it gets pricey in the long run) but the cigarette probably is. However, I get work done more efficiently. Does the good cancel the bad?

Imagine if I cut out the bad habits, I’d be able to churn out work without relying on caffeine and nicotine. I’d save money and have healthier lungs while being extremely productive all the time! No way that could work, right? Life is all about balance and without the bad, there can’t be good. I’m a mere human being trying to live a balanced life.

What started as a way to keep me up when covering events in a different time zone turned into a key aspect of my daily routine. What started as a form of amusement while sloshed in nightclubs is why my insurance premium costs a little more. 

We’re two-hundred words in on a post titled “Music for Writing”, George. When are you going to approach the topic? Now, I guess.

It began when I was thinking of what to write about on my blog. I had just finished my coffee and cigarette for the evening. I put on a random playlist from my “writing music” folder and stared at the blank page in front of me.

What is “writing music”? For me, it consists of relaxing music with no or minimal vocals. When I listen to music that I know the words to, I can’t help but sing along (it might be a disease), which distracts me from writing. By listening to music with no words, it’s literally impossible for me to sing along so I don’t get distracted. Therefore I have many playlists of such songs. I was going to share about that.

While still staring at the blank page, I noticed my legs shaking to the music playing in my ears. Which got me thinking about habits and thus, a new post was born. This was more interesting than what I initially planned anyway. The joys of freestyle writing.

Here’s a poem I wrote for #NPRPoetry last year which you might have missed:

it starts with a spark
a parting of lips
I hold you close
and draw you in
my heart beats faster
I feel dizzy
for that brief moment
time stops
everything is okay
I exhale
and do it all over again

It has been over a decade since I started inhaling cancer sticks and consuming coffee. Here’s to many more years of productivity!

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