What’s your writing music?

In the Wall Street Journal’s most excellent Word Craft column a couple of weeks back, Mark Helprin opined about the best conditions for writing. Skip cafes, he recommended, as my flesh began to crawl. (What? No more Break Espresso?) And he wrote approvingly of the silent, empty room:

Handel wrote his “Messiah” cooped up in his room for two weeks. No one saw him, and his meals were allegedly slipped under the door. (Either it was a very strange door or he survived on fruit leather and matzah.)

Well, bully for geniuses. Me, I need music. Lately, I’ve been proofing, so the more mindlessly upbeat the better, to keep me awake during the endless tapping of the delete key. Gaga does the trick.

For real writing, I’ve got a playlist that I’m always adding to. Paperback Writer, of course. The Decemberists’ shout-out to Myla Goldberg, bless their literary hearts. Brandon McGovern’s Charles Bukowski and Bob Hillman’s Tolstoy. And those sly Canadians, Moxy Fruvous. I’m always on the lookout for more. Suggestions?


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