Regardless of what makes you tick, we all seem to be universally moved by one thing: music.
We use our favorite songs to get pumped up for competition, stay motivated through a workout and drown our sorrows after a breakup.
It’s no surprise we turn to music for inspiration when we’re ready to get creative, too.
“I wrote my first book while listening to the music of Leonard Cohen and Evanescence,” says writer Paula J. Braley. “When I read it over, I can hear the music in my head.”
What kind of music is best for writing is a constant source of debate and angst among writers. You need something energizing — but not overpowering. Inspiring — but in the right tone. Motivating — but not distracting.
The topic has come up several times in The Write Life Community group on Facebook, so I pulled together everyone’s recommendations — and a few of my own — to inspire your next writing playlist (and your next masterpiece!).
1. Music to get you in the mood to write
For those days when you don’t believe in yourself or anything you’re working on, turn on a get-positive playlist to drag yourself to work.
Mine is called “Girl Power.” I know that’s cheesy.
It’s what I need some days to remind me I’m awesome and worthy of achieving the goals I’ve set.
My “Girl Power” playlist includes danceable numbers like “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake, “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift and “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. I’m also all about feel-good throwbacks like “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry.
Writer and filmmaker Andrew Butts recommends “In One Ear” by Cage the Elephant. “Not only is it a high energy ‘let’s get moving’ song,” he says, “but for creatives, its general message is ‘f*** the critics.’”
That’s a good way to get yourself out of bed and straight to work.
Freelance writer and YA author Lauren Tharp says, “For positive music, I usually turn to ‘Go for Gold’ by Kyle Patrick. Also: ‘Good Day’ by The Click Five.”
Freelance writing guru Carol Tice says her get-positive list “is more old school,” including:
- “Good Day Sunshine” by the Beatles
- “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff
- “Sing Sing Sing (With a Swing)”
“Seriously” Tice says of that last song, “if you don’t need to get up and dance to that, you’re in trouble!”
She also says, “‘San Francisco’ by The Mowglis cannot be beat for positivity.”
2. A soundtrack for your novel
The most popular response to a “best music to write to” question is usually “It depends.”
A lot of writers choose music based on the mood of what they’re writing.
“For fantasy,” says Lidy Wilks, “I listen to Peter Gundry [and] Vindsvept on [YouTube]. Romance, [it’s] R&B and slow jams.”
“If I’m pondering a scene or wanting to listen to something for motivation, then I’ll pop something on appropriate,” says Sean-Michael Alton Kerr. “Some Sia if I want a strong character moment, Amon Amarth for an epic battle scene or some classical music to just calm down my mind before starting in.”
David H. Fears gets into his characters’ heads through song. He says, “In one of my mysteries, my main man kept hearing ‘Body and Soul’ by Billie Holiday, so I often played it while editing those sections.”
Chandi Gilbert, on the other hand, uses music to tap into her own head: “I was writing a personal essay about me being 13, so I played the top songs from 1994. It really set the mood and took me back to where I needed to be! It’s amazing how a few notes of a song can instantly transport you back to puberty.”
“When I was writing my romance,” says Anna Górnaś, “Alter Bridge and their guitarist, [Mark] Tremonti, made me write a LOT.”
Di Read says, “For my Roman-Britain novel, I like ‘Celtic Twilight’ I and II. For my tarty novella, I like Clannad’s ‘Robin [the Hooded Man]’ and Enya.”
Here are more mood-setters recommended by the community:
- Zaki Ibrahim (especially the album “Eclectica”)
- “Sunshine” by Floetry
- Dave Matthews Band
- “A Serbian Film” soundtrack
- “Watch Me” by Labi Siffre
3. Folk, Americana and folky pop music
Folk used to be my go-to genre for writing, because it’s mellow. Some writers agree.
“I usually listen to indie or folk when I write for my blog, because I’m usually calmer and the words flow a little better for me,” says Heidi Carreon.
“I listen to folk/Americana music,” says John Skewes. “The writing and stories help me as a sort of fuel. But I turn it all off when write. I need the quiet to hear the voices.”
More folk recommendations from the community:
- Iron & Wine
- The Franklin Electric
- Ray LaMontagne (especially the album “Til the Sun Turns Black”)
- “Just Breathe,” covered by Willie Nelson
- Neil Young (especially the album “Harvest Moon”)
- Mumford and Sons
- Andrew McMahon
- The Head and the Heart
But folk has one major flaw for writers: It’s heavy on the lyrics. Most writers said they absolutely can’t write to music with lyrics playing… lest the words creep into their prose.
4. Instrumentals, like jazz or classical
When you really get into whatever you’re working on, the world can fade away.
The scene you’re writing starts to play out in your mind as if it’s projected on a screen in front of you. The soundtrack swells like the orchestra that drives Willem Dafoe through a crime scene in “The Boondock Saints.”
When that doesn’t come naturally, try setting the scene.
“If I listen to any music at all while writing,” says Debra Walkenshaw, “it must be classical or meditative with no words.”
Linton Robinson says, “The idea of listening to words while writing seems nuts. I just love internet jazz stations.”
But it doesn’t have to all be music that’s older than your grandparents. Modern experimental music like Blue Man Group or instrumental covers of contemporary songs can do the trick, too.
Some instrumental recommendations from the community:
- Chris Botti (especially the album “Italia”)
- Blue Man Group
- Gregorian chant
5. Electronic music
I don’t enjoy classical or orchestral music much. It doesn’t put me in the right mood for most of what I write (i.e. not epic stories). So I was thrilled when my colleague Susan Shain made this recommendation: “When I’m writing, I like electronic.”
She turned me onto the genre for writing, and now it’s one of my favorites.
Electronic spans musical styles, so you can probably find something you like. And while some of it has lyrics, many of the songs distort or edit the vocals so much you can’t get attached to the words.
And it’s just the right energy to drown out a noisy office, coffee shop or house full of kids while you write.
- Pretty Lights
- Big Gigantic
- Thievery Corporation
6. Music in a foreign language
This is the most exciting recent addition to my writing playlist: music in any language but English.
This works for me, because it lets me listen to the style of music I want — whether it’s pop or folk or whatever — without fixating on the words. Pick a language you don’t speak, and search for your style of music.
Here are a couple I like (I’d love your additional recommendations!):
- Zaz (French)
- Jane Bordeaux (Hebrew)
- Buena Vista Social Club (Spanish)
7. Video game and movie soundtracks
I love this recommendation from fiction writers! What better way to get into the scene you’re working on than to play music meant to accompany a story?
Pick a movie or video game in the same genre — or that has the same mood — as your book, and find its soundtrack. Or if you just want something in the background while you work, tune into an online music station dedicated to soundtracks.
Soundtrack recommendations from the community:
8. Ambient noise
I once asked my coworkers what they were listening to at work, and I was surprised to learn it was just…noise. Literally, they pop on noise-cancelling headphones to drown out the sounds of the open office, then tune into the sound of, well, sort of nothing.
That is, they were listening to white noise. Some prefer gray noise, white noise’s less staticky cousin. (Sound comes in an array of colors — they did not teach me that in kindergarten.)
I’ve since learned this isn’t uncommon. White noise or calming ambient sounds can clear your head and help you focus on what you’re writing, even when you’re surrounded by the chaos of coworkers, kids or a coffee shop.
Author and self-publishing expert Joanna Penn even listens to the sounds of rain and thunderstorms to slip into her alter ego, J.F. Penn, and craft her bestselling thrillers.
For anyone who loves working in a coffee shop for the hustle and bustle around you, try turning on Coffitivity. It recreates the chatter of customers, clang of cash registers and whirring of espresso machines that power writers everywhere.
Noise makers recommended by community:
What can music do for your writing?
Unfortunately, no one seems to agree on the absolute best music to write to. What you pump into your speakers or headphones depends on the mood you’re trying to set and what kind of work you’re trying to achieve.
Are you drowning out a noisy office or livening up a dead-silent home? Are you writing a blog post, a romantic scene or an in-depth piece of journalism? Do you need motivation to get started or inspiration to shape your character?
I hope these community recommendations give you a few ideas to get started next time you’re staring down a blank playlist.
(Note: Unless otherwise cited, names and pronouns of community members are based on public Facebook profile information.)
What kinds of music do you listen to for inspiration while you write?
About the Author: Dana Sitar
Dana Sitar is a freelance blogger and a writer at The Penny Hoarder. Say hi and tell her a good joke on Twitter @danasitar.
Filed Under: Craft
Students like writing compare and contrast essays as they have enough space for creativity. Such papers allow expressing your thoughts regarding some contradictive issues. It makes more fun to draw a parallel between two people or objects instead of describing a single issue.
It does not mean, however, that compare and contrast essay is an easy assignment to complete. There are so many possible compare and contrast essay topics, and some of them are hard to carry out.
Keys to Writing Compare & Contrast Essay
Before you start, it is crucial to choose topics that you really know well. Most often, you should find two things that have enough differences and similarities. You can take two pets, cats and dogs, while comparing a food (i.e., banana) with music (i.e., hard rock) basically, makes no sense.
Of course, if you're a part of Arts class where tutor appreciates uncommon parallelism, you may try your luck in your compare and contrast essay. You may talk about a sense of taste and the book of your favorite author. For instance, you may try to explain how it tastes to be Dracula. Or you can highlight how it smells to be Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from famous novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Such creative comparisons are often appreciated and awarded with more than "A." Original and unexpected compare and contrast essay topics serve as your ticket to special universities where Arts are studied. Along with a personal statement written by professional writers, such essay will increase your chances to get enrolled.
Sources to be Used
In any case, writing about things to compare and contrast is an activity which requires your full attention and creativity. But when you have to compare things objectively, you should operate facts. Just like an argumentative essay, your text will need corresponding evidence. Search for the primary and secondary sources on the given topics before you start your first draft. Make sure these sources are no older than 5 years. They should be as relevant as possible. Don't forget to apply only credible sources to reveal your topics. Those are:
- Academic journals
- Scientific magazines
- Official reports
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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay
The traditional essay tips won't work with compare and contrast paper. We have gathered the best ideas online to share with students. If you write such assignment for the first time in your school or college life, read information from us.
You need to keep in mind the most common writing mistakes school and college students make to avoid them.
Start with the type of your compare and contrast essay topic. The topics are divided into 4 different groups:
- Events (point to the differences and similarities of some historical events or episodes from the book)
- Situations (choose to compare two different cases or episodes from your life)
- People or fiction characters (choose the story)
- Places (describe different locations)
No matter what comparison and contrast topics you write on, you need to keep to the traditional structure of the academic paper.
Start with a capturing and interesting hook. Outline what your topic is. Point to the main argument of your topic known as a thesis statement. This sentence or two usually come in the last sentence of your first paragraph.
- Developing your arguments
You need to research your topic to choose three claims. Include evidence with the supporting points next to each argument. There should be up to three supporting points in each body paragraphs.
- Refuting opponent's arguments
This time, you need to research the topic to view the facts that contradict your thesis. It is important to choose at least one example and develop a paragraph with the counter-argument as well. Write down maximum two opposing views followed by a couple of your refutations.
Restate your thesis statement and stress why your side is right once again.
You can learn more information on the structure of five-paragraph paper online.
Writing Tips Used by Smart American College Students
Moreover, use such helpful words as "because,""for example," "the writer mentioned...," "according to the book/movie," "from the given reading, we know that...," "on the following page, I have found..."
"Why do you believe Americans will win the next Olympic games?"
"According to the reading I have found in my college library, their team showed better results than Canadians during the last games."
- Check possible examples of compare and contrast essays when working in your hook sentence. It has a great influence on the reader's decision whether to read your text on a specific topic or not. You may add numbers, figures, facts - whatever to make your reader interested. On the whole, there are many types of hooks:
- Anecdotes and jokes
- Literary quotes
- Quotes of famous people
- Lines from poetry
- Setting scenes
- Scientific facts
- Questions and rhetorical questions
- Metaphors and similes
- Thesis statements
We think it is better to write a thesis statement in the last sentence of the argumentative essay’s introduction to conclude.
- Brainstorm all the time. The best way to decide on two good compare and contrast topics to analyze is to brainstorm and write down possible versions on a blank paper. Once you choose the subjects, you have to organize your thoughts. Prepare a table where you will mention both similarities and differences between the two subjects.
- Get professional help and examples. Find online educational services which help to choose some good sources on the given topic. Those can be movies, books, articles, etc. It is the last pre-writing stage which is known as a literature review. School and college students conduct in-depth research to enrich their compare and contrast essay drafts with important details. If you miss any words to finish your essay, a literature review is a brilliant way to reach the necessary word count.
- Don't forget about the formatting and in-text citations. Apply direct and indirect quotes to make your text longer and more persuasive. Citations will serve as the strong evidence to support your compare and contrast topics.
It was just a short preview of every section of your compare and contrast paper in English. Selecting the proper topics might take a while if you don't have a list of sample topics in front of you. We are ready to share the best compare and contrast essay subjects with you right now. You may use any example as the subject for your comparative essay when the theme is not assigned to you.
Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for College Students
We have divided the topics into several categories to make it easier to select one. The list starts with the most relevant subjects college students usually discuss. Other categories are full of great ideas too.
- School vs. College: What's New?
- Students Who Work and Unemployed Students: Who Takes the Best of This Life?
- Research Paper and Essay: What Is More Responsible?
- American English vs. British English: Major Differences
- What Makes Education and Employment Similar?
- SAT and TOEFL: Differences and Similarities
- How Are Master Degree and Ph.D. different?
- Persuasive and Argumentative Paper: Different or the Same
- Traditional Education or Remote Learning?
History and Political Compare and Contrast Essay Topics
- Comparison of Lincoln's and Washington' Ideas
- Renaissance vs. Baroque Epoch
- Anthropology vs. Religious Studies
- American Government vs. Soviet Government
- US President vs. UK Prime Minister
- North and South Before the Civil War in the US
- Henry VIII vs. King Louis XIV
- Fascism and Nazism: Different or the Same?
- World War I and World War II: Difference in Events
Compare and Contrast Topics for Beginners
- Compare Apple and Orange
- Night Time and Day Time: Advantages Each Period Has
- What Makes People Completely Different from Animals
- Living in Poverty and Being Rich
- Coffee and Tea: The Effects of Both
- Living in Big City or Staying in Village
- Feeling Sad against Feeling Lonely
- Differences and Similarities between American and British Traditional Dishes
- Camping in the Woods or Resting by the Sea?
Opposite Things to Compare and Contrast
- Females and Males
- Coke vs. Pepsi
- Red vs. White
- Country in War Compared to Country in Peace
- Driving a Car or Riding a Bus
- Love and Hatred
- Bad and Good Aspects of Overwork
- Moon and Sun
- Dolls or Soft Toys: What Should Parents Buy to Their Children?
Ideas Teenagers May Use in Their Papers
- Childhood vs. Adulthood
- Living at Home or Living on Campus
- Reading or Watching Screened Versions: What Teens Prefer
- Working in Office or Being a Freelancer?
- Academic Writing vs. Scientific Writing
- TV Shows and Radio Shows: What Is More Trendy?
- Education or Professional Career: What Is Easier and What Is More Difficult?
- Greek and Roman Culture: Differences and Similarities
- Comparing Art and Science Classes
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IT & Social Media Compare & Contrast Ideas
- E-mail or Traditional Mailing: What Will Happen in the Future?
- Online vs. Traditional Commerce
- Online Dating vs. Real-Life Relations
- Computer Games, Video Games, or Smartphone Games
- Choosing between New York Times and Forbes
- FaceBook or MySpace: Which Social Network Offers More Opportunities?
- Searching for Job Online or Traditionally?
- Using Online Writing Services against Traditional Writing Services
- Benefits Marketing Specialists Get from Using Online Advertising vs. Traditional One
Movie & Music Compare and Contrast Themes
- Buffy, the Vampire Slayer or Charmed?
- Books against Movies: Why Reading Is Preferred
- Jazz vs. Rock
- Sam vs. Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings)
- Gandalf vs. Dumbledore
- American Cinematography vs. Soviet Union Cinematography
- Thor and Loki: Friends or Enemies According to Movie of 2009?
- Horror Films and Thrillers: What's in Common?
- Harry Potter or Draco Malfoy?
Literature Compare & Contrast Ideas
- Comedy vs. Drama
- Greek vs. Roman Mythology
- Beauty and the Beast: Lessons Learned
- Prose or Lyrics: What People Prefer More and Why?
- Poetry of XIII Century and Nowadays Lyrics
- Shakespeare's Othello Compared to Hamlet
- Fiction or Non-Fiction Literature: When You May Need Different Types?
- Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter: Which Fantasy Book Is Better?
- Literature of the Past against Literature of the Future
Scientific Compare & Contrast Ideas
- Oven vs. Microwave
- Physics vs. Chemistry
- Our Galaxy, Milky Way, and Andromeda, the Closest
- What Makes Earth Different from Mars
- First Mission to Moon and Second Visit: What Are the Differences and Similarities?
- Thomas Jefferson or DaVinci: Whose Innovations Matter More?
- Earthquakes or Tsunami: Which Consequences Are Worse?
- Limited Control Tools or Software with Fool Access to Navigation
- Formulas of Two Different Chemical Reactions
Popular Compare & Contrast Ideas
- Soccer vs. Football
- Chinese vs. Korean
- Public Opinion vs. Personal Point of View: Discuss Subjectivity & Objectivity
- Juice and Water
- Light Beer vs. Dark Beer: Which One Is More Popular?
- Anorexia Nervosa and Obesity: What Is More Dangerous?
- Marriage and Divorce: Two Sides of the Coin
- Windows or Linux: Paid vs. Free OS
- Marxism vs. Other Ideas of Capitalism
Philosophy Compare & Contrast Ideas
- Is Home Really a Better Place Than Miami Beach?
- Life and Death: Various Philosophical Views
- Living in Your Dreams or Living in Reality: Pros and Cons
- Friends and ... Where Is the Edge?
- Physical & Mental Needs of Human Beings
- Reality or Fantasy World?
- Main Philosophical Ideas of Macbeth against the Main Ideas of Hamlet
- Dogs and Humans: They Are More Similar Than We Think
- Sources with Free Access and Rights Reserved: Should We Protect Intellectual Property?
- Greek Philosophers vs. Roman Philosophers
Compare and contrast essay topics for college students might be tricky to choose. The whole process of academic writing is even longer and more complex. Online help from expert writers will save you a plenty of time. You just need to order a good essay from experts with the highest academic degrees in a variety of fields.
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