I like writing with music playing. In fact, it's a big help, in setting the mood, keeping up the pace, and generally inspiring me.
The exception is singing. If someone is singing in English, or any language I can understand (i.e. English), then the words of the song can interfere with the words I'm trying to write.
Film scores are particularly useful for writing (though I listen to a lot of jazz and some rock and classical, too).
If I want to write, for example, a suspenseful vignette or a big action sequence, I can choose music appropriate to that mood. And it gets me going.
Recently I've been writing spy thrillers. Operation Herod was a considerable e-publishing success and my publishers promptly asked for a sequel.
When I sat down to write it, I needed music to fuel me. And I chose John Powell's excellent scores for the first two Bourne movies.
These worked really well. They remind me of Lalo Schifrin, but more contemporary. They have an electronic and World Music edge which is very interesting.
Above all, they have a propulsive, driving beat which is a real boon when you're pushing relentlessly to beat a deadline.
Anyway, largely thanks to John Powell and his magnificent music, I completed the sequel and delivered it a couple of weeks ago. My publishers love it.
And now they want another one...
This is great, because I'm enjoying developing the characters and I'm bubbling with plot ideas.
The only problem is, those Bourne scores are wearing a little thin. I don't want to play them so much that the music I love becomes the music I wince at.
So I need some more options. Obviously I can get Bourne Ultimatum, another John Powell. Or try James Newton Howard's excellent Bourne Legacy (and maybe his score for Salt, another spy thriller).
But I was wondering if anybody out there has any suggestions? A tweet on this subject gave rise to some interesting and useful possibilities, including early Mike Oldfield.
Do let me know what you think.
I'm off to read some James Bond.