About Me

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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have a poem in The Poeming Pigeon, essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. My story "Santa Lucia" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I've written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished. I'm working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Music and Writing

I don't know about anyone else, but I don't listen to music while I write. I can't. I have to have it quiet while I'm writing, although background noise such as my son or husband playing music in a room away from me, or the sound of my son playing video games, is okay. That turns into white noise for me, which is fine. I'm able to tune that out. But actually having my own music playing while writing is something I just can't handle. It's too much stimulation and also a distraction. Perhaps it's my bipolar brain, which is constantly moving and racing and thinking on multiple levels as it is, that keeps me from being able to focus well while listening to music.

I know that music inspires some people, and I imagine that some writers have music they really enjoy listening to while writing. Are you one such writer? What music inspires you?

I am inspired by music when I'm not writing, and I can think of songs in my mind that have inspired me, which can help to write a scene. I can also occasionally listen to classical music (no singing in it, though, such as opera) while writing. I have to be in a certain mood to do this, however, and it usually works best for me during the editing stages rather than the creating stages.

My opinion on whether or not to listen to music while writing is this: It's entirely up to each and every individual writer. If it works for you, then more power to you. If you find that it's causing your mind to wander and your focus to wane, then you might want to rethink doing it. But don't get me wrong when it comes to my opinion on this--I love music and enjoy it tremendously in many other contexts. There aren't many genres of music I don't like, and when I sing along with favorite songs, I like to pretend I have the voice of an angel!


  1. I never listen to the music that inspires me while I'm writing, either, Emily. I enjoy various classical, lite jazz fusion, and acoustic stuff for writing. Lately, though, I've noticed that if I'm stuck and turn it off, the writing goes better. I think you're right, it's important to know what works for you and what doesn't.

    1. Rhea, I completely agree--a writer has to do what works best. Thanks for your reply!

  2. I listen to music most of the time while writing, Emily. The only time I don't is when coming out of migraine! I tailor the music very much, and often have particular songs or pieces of music for different characters. If I haven't written a character for a while, and they have a strong associated piece of music, just hearing it will get me back inside that character instantly. I also use music that relates to the mood or atmosphere I want in a particular scene...which can be highly varied, from classical to pop/rock.

    1. Joanna, your use of music is interesting--really quite fascinating! I like that you make associations between certain pieces of music and characters. That's neat. I'm sure it helps with tone and mood, too. Thanks for sharing your take on this!