Writing is something I am passionate about. But much like any other intense job, it can become a little taxing at times. And it did for me at the beginning of my career as a writer.
As a full-time writer, my performance levels were dropping to below par and my creativity “mojo”’ hit somewhat of a slump.
Occasionally, I’d lose that swagger—and as those deadlines drew closer, it felt like there was just not enough gas left in the tank to see the job through, so to speak.
My work lacked bite; creativity. Some oomph. I felt strained and panicky as a result of it all. By mid-week, I had already started to feel burned out. My clients were sending work back, one article after another.
Thankfully, that changed.
In early 2016, one year into my writing career, I began to listen to classical orchestra music.
I was no stranger to that genre of music; I enjoyed it a lot in my spare time—long before I began writing. But in my first year as a full-time writer, I didn’t introduce it as a technique to gain creativity while working on writing projects. I always assumed any sort of music would be a hindrance to my concentration during work.
I was appreciatively wrong on this occasion. Although, I’m wrong on most occasions in general, or so I’m told quite often by my nan. Not to worry, relax, I’m right on this occasion. There’s proof.
After unravelling some research online stating that classical music can boost your creativity levels, I decided to experiment and give it a listen while writing.
There was really only one man I was going to turn to. My favorite composer.
So, without further ado, step forward … Mr. Hans Zimmer.
I came across Zimmer’s music from the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning movie “Gladiator” many years ago. I also discovered the song “Time,” which blew my socks off, when I watched that Leonardo DiCaprio flick “Inception.”
“First Step,” the soundtrack from “Interstellar,” and “Aggressive Expansion” from “The Dark Knight Rises,” are other Zimmer hits I then later discovered. Make no mistake about it, the man is a legend.
He’s my No. 1 guy. I owe a lot to his talents. He’s gotten me out of some tight writing corners in my day.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for a Mick Jagger hit, but rock ‘n’ roll takes a back seat on occasions like these. Music that has a lot of lyrics and heavy instruments tends to distract me when I’m working.
I’ve probably listened to several hundred hours of Zimmer’s songs while writing drafts and articles.
The reason is mainly that they’re so powerful in their own right. They’re incredibly beautiful and inspiring pieces of music. In fact, I’d play them on repeat through my headphones on most days.
They certainly have that meditative value that I crave as a writer. They make the hairs on my arms stand tall. It’s like the music untangles knots in my brain and I see vivid images in my head (like I’m in a movie) that leads me to think and write more fluently.
These Zimmer tunes are almost all like anthems. My pick-me-ups, if you like.
Southern Methodist University conducted a study and found by closely monitoring a group of volunteers while classical music played in the background that the volunteers became more emotionally able to uncover information than those who didn’t listen to classical music.
A study posted on the Early To Rise website shows that corporations such as IBM and DuPont, along with numerous universities, used classical music to cut the learning process in two—furthermore, discovering a boost in creativity and retention.
Attention all writers:
Here are some of the instrumental (see what I did there?) and beneficial gains that classical music (Zimmer) has had on my performance as a writer, and they can be of use to yours, too.
Listen up …
Listening to an orchestra, especially in Zimmer’s “Now We Are Free,” “Time,” “Aggressive Expansion,” and “First Step,” seems to tickle my fancy the most.
I actually do feel, believe it or not, a lot freer when I’m writing, creating, and producing content to these spine-tingling tunes.
I sense control, power, inspiration, and relaxation over what I’m writing while listening to them, almost like I’m imaginatively writing my own movie—and acting it out just like Russell Crowe did as Maximus Decimus Meridius in “Gladiator,” slaying a few Romans and lions in the Colosseum along the way. Like a Hispano-Roman general.
There are many more great classical composers out there for you to listen to while you’re writing; Clint Mansell, John Williams, and Lisa Gerrard are high on my list. I’ll always stay loyal to Zimmer, though.
Anything powerful that gets that creativity booming inside of you again will do just fine. You’ll discover new creative powers to help your writing in no time.
Any writers out there who crave inspiration while they’re writing a novel, a poem, articles, letters … or, hell, even search engine optimization product descriptions or adverts, ought to listen to classical music.
Yes, I’m aware already; it’s not everyone’s first choice, especially if you’re a young writer who may prefer pop, dance music, or punk rock. But don’t knock it until you try it.
If you don’t like classical music, maybe you could look at it like it’s a type of medicine that will help you grow as a writer. I live and die by it. Don’t take that too literally. You know what I mean.
My work has become enjoyable when in the past it felt somewhat somber; lacking in quality. Emotionless. Lifeless. Soulless.
The music impacted how I worked; my mood and my creativity levels all grew significantly.
There’s no reason why it can’t have a positive impact on yours, also.
You’re welcome, and don’t mention it. And, thank you for all your help, Hans. I couldn’t have gotten through it all without you.
Michael Bradley is an entrepreneurial writer currently based in Ireland who lends his services to various brands, SEO agencies, and magazines through his own website: www.freelancemichael.com, or directly through his personal email: [email protected]. When he isn't attending to his clients, Michael is a passionate Liverpool FC supporter and his dream is to one day see Liverpool win the Premier League. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.