Music while you work...

Writing essentials: music and caffeine
The other day, I was discussing listening to music while writing, with my writing buddy (Stuart Lennon - you can check out his blog here... Don't worry. It opens in a new tab so you won't lose me).

I can get addicted to a particular play list or album when I'm writing and then that music is forever associated with whatever I've been working on. Sometimes it's because the lyrics or the music are very apt; sometimes it's because the music is already associated with a location in the piece I'm writing. For example, when I was writing the Malawian scenes in The Wrong Kind of Clouds, I had Lucius Banda's "Freedom" album on in the background, because on a couple of my trips to Malawi, that was playing everywhere. Much of the rest of that book is associated with 30 Seconds to Mars' album "This is War" just because that's what I was listening to while I was editing it.

Sometimes one particular track completely sums up a character or a relationship between two characters in the book. The track "Fuel to Fire" by Agnes Obel will now always make me think of two characters in the urban fantasy trilogy I've been writing. Even if I'm out running and it pops up on my play list, I'm instantly transported to one particular scene between them.

I think some of my preference for having music on stems from the days when I used to work at a university. I was always in a shared office with people coming and going all day. There was also one very irritating person who used to come and stand and chat in my doorway (she obviously had less work to do than me as she used to stand and talk at people all day, whether they wanted her to or not!). It was easier to concentrate (and ignore her) if I had headphones on. The habit seems to have stuck.

The album that's currently on repeat here (and is in danger of forever being associated with me writing my piece for "Bloody Scotland") is Bear's Den: "Red Earth and Pouring Rain"

What about others? Do you work to music or not? Is there a piece of music you associate with a particular time of your life or a book?  Come on. 'Fess up in the comments, even if it's really cheesy!