How To Use Music To Fuel Your Writing

I’ve previously written about the different ways that writers can use music to enhance their creative process, but today I’m teaching through showing as I share how music inspired the writing of mystery novel, Every Time He Dies

To be fully transparent, I rarely listen to music when I am actually writing, but I definitely use music as a way to generate ideas and to brainstorm scenes.

If I do want to listen to music while I am writing, I often listen to classical music, nature sounds or any of the ‘white noise’ loop tracks found on the wonderful website, (a personal fav is Sherlock’s Apartment). 

I can listen to music with lyrics when I’m editing, but I need to be careful as this too can drag or split my attention.

As a couple aside, I often find it difficult to hold conversations with someone or to concentrate on mentally demanding tasks if music is playing.

I would not describe myself as a natural musician (ton-deaf!), but I did grow up playing instruments (organ, piano, saxophone and guitar) and I desperately wanted to be a music journo when I was in my early-twenties (fortunately, I decided to go the much more lucrative route of becoming a writer, haha). So, when music is playing, my attention naturally drifts towards it. 

An affinity with music can be a hindrance or a source of inspiration depending on how you use it. 

For instance, there were several times during the drafting of Every Time He Dies where I got stuck on a scene or I realised that the direction of the book had to pivot and I wasn’t sure how to do it. When this happened, I popped on my headset, picked a favourite band or playlist and went out for a walk. 

In the same way that you can replay a music video in your mind, I would intentionally create a scene in my mind using the music and lyrics as inspiration. I imagined my characters in a particular scenario or having a certain exchanged and I allowed this creative ideation to continue through the full length of the song/s. 

If I needed to ‘unstick’ my brain, I would turn on some upbeat music and free write a scene featuring my characters or practice some writing exercise that featured my characters. Note: These scenes and exercises didn’t go into the book, it was just a way to loosen up by writing and to stop taking things so seriously. 

Sometimes I would listen to a song on repeat several times as it would shift me into the right mood or headspace that I needed to be in to write a particular scene. 

If you’re the kind of person that can write while listening to music, then good for you! But, if you are like me and you find that lyrics and intense instrument music is too distracting, then perhaps these other methods will work for you. 

There is more than one way to become inspired, and music has a way of shifting our mood and mindset quicker — I would argue — than any other art form. For this reason alone, music can be a powerful tool that all writers should have at their disposal. 

For those interested, here are some of my favourite bands that I listened to while working on ETHD:

Alice in Chains
Lana Del Rey
Queens Of The Stone Age
Tracy Chapman
Johnny Cash
Alex Lahey
Vira Blue
CS Stone King

Do you listen to music while you write or do you use music to inspire or influence your story? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear about it!



‘Who knew that a book about murder, grief and disintegrated families could be so funny?’ – Paul WilliamsEverytimeHeDies_3D

‘A unique modern mystery that is one part psychic practices and one part police procedural. The fast pace, dynamic characters and intricate plot will keep readers hooked until the end.’ – Gregory James

‘It’s rare to find an Australian-set book of this scope and genre that could stand among its international peers and hold its own, but I won’t be surprised to see this book find its success in all corners of the crime genre reading world.’ – Shayla Morgansen

‘Can someone please make this into a TV series? This is a fabulous read and I want to see Liam and Daff on the small screen.’ – Carol Seeley


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Everyone who preorders a copy of Every Time He Dies (paperback or ebook) will go into the draw to win one of THREE MAJOR GRAND PRIZES.

To celebrate the release of Every Time He Dies, I’m running an EPIC book giveaway. The three grand prize packs include signed copies of:

🎉Dying in the First Person by Nike Sulway
🎉Bordertown by Gregory James
🎉Haunted by Shayla Morgansen
🎉The Spark Ignites by Kathleen Kelly
🎉Every Time He Dies by Tara Louise East


If you preorder a copy, simply take a snapshot of your proof of purchase and fill out the entry form here. 


Everyone who preorders a copy will ALSO receive the first five chapters straight to their inbox. Not only will this tide you over until the book arrives, but it’s also my way of saying thanks!