Five Playlists to Keep You Focused and Productive

The world is a distracting place right now, isn’t it? What with all the jumping and running and biting and scampering across keyboards, I can hardly focus!!

I’m speaking, of course, of Captain Salty.

Captain Salty!

We have long fostered animals for our local pet shelters. Bunnies, chinchillas, turtles, guinea pigs, and dogs, we’ve done it all, but we mostly focus on kittens. Tough job, right?

Well, let me tell you: they make terrible co-workers. But I’m a glutton for punishment, and thus I have to find ways to focus even when there’s a wild-eyed monster climbing up my leg.

My favorite focusing tool is music, and I’ve developed several playlists to get me in the right writing mood.

POWER UP: “Who Run the World? Girls!” is a Spotify-compiled list that contains a surprisingly wide and ever-changing mix of music from women who are definitely writing their own stories, and will inspire you to write yours! My favorite playlist when I’m tired but I need to put on my big girl panties and get it done.

SENSUAL: “Get it On” is my master list of songs that say “sex” to me. Some of them whisper it–the first one, “Breathe,” is family-friendly. But I wouldn’t go playing “Falsetto” by The Dream around my mom. Put this on when its 9 AM and you’re halfway into your first coffee but you gotta crank out that big sex scene.

EMOTIONAL: “Country with Character” includes the songs I collected while writing a book about a small town with big personalities. With vivid characters like Reba MacEntire’s “Fancy” and tear-jerking stories like the Dixie Chicks’ “Travelin’ Soldier,” this list inspires me to dig deeper for the pull-no-punches emotional impact that romance readers crave.

FOCUS: “chill.out.brain” is a soothing playlist made by Spotify that allows me to forget that I’m listening to music and just focus on whatever it is I need to do. Great for when you don’t know what to play, or haven’t really found your groove with a book yet. 

HAPPINESS: Finally, “Get Happy” is just the ticket for those days when the world really is getting you down. Filled with oldies and stuff I’ve never heard, there’s not a one that won’t make you smile. Get up and dance to release your stress, and then get your BICHOK!

Do you write to music? Share with us your favorite playlists and albums!

11 responses to “Five Playlists to Keep You Focused and Productive”

  1. Jamie, Thank you for sharing your playlists. I know many writers that have playlists like yours, and I too write to music, but unlike you and the others my music is totally instrumental. I get distracted by lyrics. Classical music for study, focus or romance and new age is like the white, soothing noise of a shower to me and helps feed my muse. Sometimes is just silence that works. Everyone is different and each one of us has to experiment to find our muse triggers.

    • I listen to movie soundtracks sometimes — there are lots of instrumental ones. I especially like the Bourne movie soundtracks and the Alias TV show soundtracks when writing action scenes.

  2. What a fun bunch of lists, Jamie! I can’t write to any music as I can never fully relegate it to the background. I do, however, create playlist for my main characters. It’s a fun way to get to know my characters better.

  3. These are great! Though I don’t usually write to music, sometimes I’ll put it on if I need to shut out the world. I enjoy writing to the How to Train Your Dragon and Pirates of the Caribbean soundtracks. Words seem to distract me, but it depends what I’m writing. I’ve also been trying “” lately, and that really does seem to help with focus.

    • I love soundtracks! I haven’t listened to those ones; I’ll have to check them out. I do like the Bourne movie and the Alias TV show ones, though. Also the Princess Bride is cute!

  4. Tamara Hogan says:

    Though cute, kittens ARE terrible co-workers, aren’t they? I have to admit that I’m a total meanie who closes my office door on my cats. They don’t get to come in. I visit them when I take breaks.

    I need music when I write, if only to have one thing that blocks out all the other noises the world makes! I don’t stream, but my iPod and Bose noise-reduction headphones are constant companions.

    I use music as a shortcut to help me get into the headspace of the character whose POV I’m writing from that day. This morning, I was writing a love scene from a male character’s POV, so I queued up Roxy Music’s “Avalon” album.

    It hit the spot…and so did he. 😉

    • Captain Salty is currently, literally, viciously attacking me from all sides as I sit here trying to type. He was desperately shy when we first got him. Not so much anymore! I guess we did our job. 🙂 He’s going back to the shelter on Tuesday.

      Music is like a shortcut! It really cuts through the noise in my brain and settles me on the story, or the character. My characters definitely have “theme songs,” and I always pick a certain song for each sex scene. You know I love me some Foo Fighters!

      I also like to use scent — I often wear a particular perfume, more on accident than anything else, while writing a certain book. There’s one I wore all the time while writing my debut, and it still puts me back in that go-get-’em attitude I had back then!

  5. Rita Henuber says:

    I’m all over the place from complete silence in a dark room to head banging window rattling loud. Sheba Potts-Wright, CW, Santana, Eagles, the sound track from Out of Africa have been employed the last few days.

  6. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    Thank you, Jamie…there are some great songs in those playlists…love Bruno Mars & Pentatonix. However, I do find it a bit hard to write to music as I tend to get a bit lost in it or get up and dance:) Am an NPR junkie and it is my background noise when I write. The radio is still intact;)

    (aka: Cinnabar)


Subscribe to the Blog

The Latest Comments

  • Darynda Jones: I love this! I learned this fairly early as well. I also learned that sometimes I just have too many...
  • Heather McCollum: Thanks, Jenn! I forgot that you are also a free lance editor! Do you do both developmental and line...
  • Jennifer Bray-Weber: Very sound advice, Heather. I have done the same technique and often recommended it to some of...
  • Darynda Jones: Bwahahaha! I was so wondering where that was going! Did NOT see that coming. Great job, Evelyn!
  • April Mitchell: Congratulations Bonnie!