Have you ever gotten to the point where you know it’s time to create something, but when you set about doing it, you can’t find the right inspiration? If you’re a writer, maybe the right words don’t seem to be coming to you. If you’re an artist, maybe you’re having trouble painting that first stroke or finding the first shape in a sculpture. Maybe you’re a musician, and no riffs are coming together for your song.
Taking the first steps to create are always the hardest. Once you’re in the zone, the momentum can easily carry you through, but getting there is the real challenge. Do you have a method that works best to get you started? For me, there’s nothing better to get my creative juices flowing than finding the right songs to inspire me. If you don’t already use music to get you in the right mood for your work, then maybe it’s time you experiment with it.
What Science Says About Music and Creativity
Surprisingly, a 2017 study found that background music can actually work against your creativity. According to the research, all music used (background music with foreign (unfamiliar) lyrics (Experiment 1), instrumental music without lyrics (Experiment 2), and music with familiar lyrics (Experiment 3)) were found to significantly impair the effectiveness of participants’ ability to solve creative challenges. So, maybe music isn’t the solution to kickstarting your creativity after all?
But, doesn’t that go against conventional wisdom? If this is true, then why do so many creative people cite their favorite types of music as their fuel for their work? Perhaps the answer lies within the results of another 2017 study that claims listening to a specific type of music influences what is called “divergent thinking,” or the ability for a person to put concepts together that don’t typically go together.
Basically, even though music can easily be a distraction when being creative, if you find the right song to set up the atmosphere, you can use it to help you create unique and amazing things.
Choosing the Music to Inspire You
While the second study referenced above claims that “happy” music was the type most conducive for setting an environment for creative thinking, there are certainly applications for many types of music that may inspire you in your work. For instance, if your goal is to show inner turmoil in your creative work, then perhaps sad songs would be better than happy songs for setting the mood? If you’re writing a battle sequence in your book, maybe you want to let the rage of a song from the metal genre channel through your fingers?
If you have been having trouble with getting started on a creative project, then maybe think about the tone you want to convey in your writing and find a suitable theme to listen to while writing it. Just be careful about letting the music stress you out.
While it may be good to listen to music that resembles the theme of what you’re trying to convey in your work, it can quickly and easily become stressful to hear a lot of music that doesn’t stir up happy feelings in you. You may find that the specific type of music you were going for to match the mood of what you’re making becomes a negative force in your creativity. At that point, you should realize this and reassess what music, if any, should be playing.
Ultimately, it’s about getting yourself into the right kind of mood that will help you do what you need to do for as long as it takes to feel accomplished with yourself. Experiment with different types of music and lack thereof. Discover for yourself what works best for you.