What’s Your Jam?

Let’s talk tunes. What’s your jam? What do you rock out to? Listen to when you need to chill? What do you crank up in the mini van while you’re waiting to pick the kids up at school? Hmm, you mean I’m the only one who does that? In the words of my ten year-old daughter, “Mom, you’re soooooooo embarrassing.” Hey, I’m a Mom, that’s my job.


Anyway, back to music. There’s quite a bit of science behind how our brains respond to music. It’s fascinating. For a really cool article on how music affects creativity and productivity, check out this one: https://blog.bufferapp.com/music-and-the-brain

To me, hearing a few bars of a song can conjure up a memory of a time long past. Every time I hear Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing” I immediately time travel to the summer I spent at my grandpa and grandma’s farm house in rural Missouri where my cousin and I listened to that song on a mix tape day after day after day. Any song from the “Grease” soundtrack takes me back to seeing the movie on the big screen.


It was a Daddy/daughter date with my dad who’s been gone now for six years. Listening to “The Joshua Tree” puts me smack dab on the seedy sidewalk in downtown Fort Worth where I spent the night waiting to buy U2 tickets. I got to meet Bono that night. He wore a dark green velvet vest and a top hat and he smelled really good. I digress…


Music can bring emotions to the surface as well. While we were waiting to travel to Ethiopia to adopt our son, I listened to a mix CD over and over again. “Danny’s Song” by Kenny Loggins still gets me teary. Every. Freaking. Time.

And for some reason “Cowboy Take Me Away” by the Dixie Chicks makes me want to sell my two-story house in suburbia and move to a hundred-year-old farmhouse in the country with Mr. Crush and surround myself with corn fields and farm animals.

I’ve heard quite a few authors talk about how they create a playlist for their work in progress. So I tried it. I spent hours culling through old cd’s and handpicking mp3’s from different sites. I thought it would be too distracting to work with music in the background. But what I found was the opposite. The first couple of times I had it playing while I wrote, it did pull my attention away from the words. I wanted to sing along or let my brain wander where the lyrics wanted me to go. But after a time or two the music faded into the background. And as some authors have pointed out, if I listened to my playlist while I was doing other important tasks like cooking dinner or shuttling kids around, the emotion of my work in progress stayed with me. And that made jumping right back into the story much easier.

So any writers out there? Do you listen to music while you write? Just for fun, here’s my playlist for my recently completed manuscript, SNAPPED:

Shut Up & Drive – Rihanna
Photograph – Ed Sheeran
Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
Miami – Will Smith
All I Wanna Do – Sheryl Crow
Feel This Moment – Pitbull
Come On Get Higher – Matt Nathanson
Any Way You Want It – Journey
Use Somebody – Kings of Leon
Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
AreYou Gonna Be My Girl – Jet
Walking On Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves
Daylight – Maroon 5
Cool Change – Little River Band
Closer To Fine – Indigo Girls
Photograph – Nickelback
Beautiful Day – U2

I’d love to hear how you use music in your writing! And if you’re not a writer, what’s your favorite jam?