Music to Edit By

I haven’t figured out why it happens, but sometimes there are spells in which I forget the power of music to change my state of mind. Maybe I worry reflexively that it will just add noise to already overloaded moments. Or maybe I worry reflexively that music will disconnect me too much from those I care about, even if for just a moment.

But that’s all the worry is most times: a reflex in the moment. It’s there to try to simplify things for us. It’s there to keep itself vigilant. That’s its job.

My job, though, is often to edit. And the right music has been a wonderful tool for taking the worry out of that task.

What I Need in an Editing Soundtrack

When writing, I’ve grown to think of music as prayerlike. I hope to share more about that another day. But when I’m editing, I need music to function somewhat like a metronome smoothing out any of my reactions to a text. Here I’m thinking of predictable patterns that drive me from word to word and letter to letter.

I also need something without lyrics. Pretty reasonable, right? The words of the text should get all of my focus. And who knows what I might accidentally mix in there from a song. The only exception I might make would be for trance-style electronic music, but only if I’m sure the repeated lyrics won’t stick and distract.

It’s a great bonus if I can play a track on repeat as needed.  Have to be something I can’t get sick of.  In our home, we each have favorites we can spin for eternity.

Over the years, I’ve ended up choosing anything from ragtime and spy themes to electronica and video game soundtracks.

My Current Rotation List

I’d love to hear what other editors listen to as they work, including that ol’ traditional standard: silence.






6 thoughts on “Music to Edit By

  1. I find silence works best for editing and intensive detail oriented writing. Rock/Punk/Metal all work well for creativity outbursts (especially when writing while exercising), and soft love songs for soft love scenes 🙂 (there’s a surprise!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard to overestimate the clarity of silence, isn’t it. I’ve noticed a strange reverse for me, also: I often work well in a crowded public space. Thanks for your list and reply.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s interesting about the crowded public space … I was never quite able to make it work for me. Sometimes it stops me from procrastinating, but most of the time it’s just too distracting … Still, nice to hear it works for others!


      2. Yes, it’s probably a subconscious motivator for me somehow. I don’t think it would be my first choice. And I often get inspiration for poetry at inconvenient times. Like on the road or just before sleep. Those are when the muse is closest for a lot of us, it seems. Interesting to note how distraction affects each part of writing.

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