If you want a quick checklist to complete for your best writing session EVA (using brain hacks) you can download one here and get access to my library of goodies.
Being a writer takes guts, a lot of motivation and a lot of hard work and hard work is well, hard. But there are ways to make it easier and that’s what this series is going to be about. I don’t know if you’ve heard of ‘brain-hacking’ but it’s where you take different ideas and different things and use them to make whatever you’re doing, ‘better’. In this case, writing obviously, because this is a writing tips website haha.
We’re going to look at:
- How to motivate yourself
- How to have the energy to write
- How to write better prose that flows
You know sometimes you write and the prose is amazing and you’re like.
“O.M.G. I wrote that! How did I do that?”
Let’s look at how you did that. Let’s look at what circumstances lead to that.
I’ve met a couple of writers who sit down and write in silence and I’d like to know what crazy stuff their brain is on because I wish I could sit in silence at any time of day. Literally any time.
I have to have the t.v. on, the sound of the computer, the sound of the fan. Last night for example I lay in bed and I asked, why is it so quiet? It’s soooo quiet. And I realized I forgot to turn on my fan and the silence drove me crazy.
I. Could. Not. Do. It.
Kudos to anyone who can.
That doesn’t mean to say I have melomania, but I do like a bit of music when I’m writing.
And what I know of music is it influences the brain in the same way as a substance; you can read more about substances and brain hacking here: Brain Hacks for Writers: Substances
What Music do You Use right now?
I myself write with a playlist which matches the character. I want to feel the characters and step inside of their skin and one way to do that is by listening to something that moves me into their mindset.
I also match the songs to the emotion of the scene.
If this is a scene where he breaks up with his girlfriend I’m not going to add a crazy happy song to the mix like ‘Oops I did it again by Britney Spears’…unless he’s a psychopath I guess.
Instead I get acoustic songs; I like acoustic because my characters tend to be gritty, I like writing about gritty people.
Writers from Twitter weigh in on what they listen to:
Let’s Get Sciency
According to Psychology Today, 2012 ‘scientists have found that listening to particularly happy or sad music changes the way we perceive the world’. Which is an interesting statement really, considering as a writer you are perceiving and interpreting the world in a way for other humans to digest and comprehend.
You can change your mood by listening to music that makes you feel a certain way.
But that’s not all. Don’t go reaching for ‘Eye of the Tiger’ for brain hacks, to get pumped to write yet you guys. Because randomness is also a factor.
You want to hit the shuffle button.
You know that moment right between songs where you’re like, ok what’s next? And you’re waiting for it, and the first beat comes and then you’re like…”omg this song is awesome!”
That moment releases a whole bunch of dopamine to your brain. And dopamine is linked to your motivation; you release dopamine you get motivated to achieve something great. AKA you’re next WIP.
Volume Makes a Difference
Don’t reach for the volume switch and crank it up either. When I’m doing a workout the first thing I do is crank up my music, it’s exciting and adrenaline fueling. But if you want to slide into the creative zone this isn’t the way to do it.
There should be just enough noise around you to make it hard to think logically, but not enough to impair your thoughts all together.
It’s sort of the same as turning on a fan in the background, fans produce white noise which relaxes you, rain does the same thing, or the static on a television (do t.v.s still have static or am I just old now?).
It used to work WONDERS for my autistic child. As a baby he couldn’t sleep and would stay awake for hours, and days at a time, waking up every hour on the hour. Until I introduced white noise, suddenly I had a child that could sleep through the night. The relaxed state it put him into was enough to switch off the rest of the world that bombarded him every day.
In fact background noise has become such a must for some writers that you can even go to this website here and listen to the sound of a cafe as you write.
Why not give it a try? If you write in silence this could be for you.
Does BPM Matter?
Human’s in general can recognize beats between 40 and 300, but most popular music doesn’t go above 160 (160 being drum and base type stuff). The ‘preferred’ tempo for most people is 120bpm.
But what does that mean for writers?
Music can also reduce our perception of effort by up to 10%, especially at a calming BPM like 60, which helps us retain more information.
Scientific stamp of approval BAM.
Music with Lyrics or No?
I always pick music with lyrics, but come to think of it my absolute best music is those with made up lyrics. Yeah it exists, Sigur Ros is one example of this.
There is a great reason and it’s because lyrics can confuse you. It’s akin to listening to someone talk whilst you’re trying to write.
Personally I try to find lyrics that match the thoughts of my character’s (it’s as if the character’s are talking to me as I write), but yes lyrics are not always the best choice.
Perhaps sticking to jazz, ambiance and classical music (or even dubstep without lyrics) would be the optimal choice.
But there is another choice for sound/music that doesn’t have any lyrics and is proven to actually mess with your brain waves.
There’s a bit of a weird science behind Binaural Beats and it hasn’t been 100% proven, but I feel like Binaural Beats have always helped me to move into a state of trance. That might sound a bit woo to you, but hear me out here.
When you listen to Binaural beats they play different frequencies in each ear and your brain waves elevate to match the difference between to two, be it 5Hz, or 10Hz etc.
You can hack your brain waves to improve your productivity, or creativity, or anything else you’re trying to achieve.
If you’re the sort of person that can’t sit in silence (welcome to the club) but gets distracted by music, binaural beats may be the hack for you.
As a recap if you want to try these brain hacks at home:
- Turn your music up, but not too loud
- Listen to music without lyrics
- Listen to music that matches the mood of the scene
- Listen to music that allows you to connect with your characters
- Pick 120bpm and above for a happy scene, and below for a sad scene
- Pick music in minor mode for scary scenes
- If you’re not into music try white noise or Binaural Beats
Let me know in the comments below if you tried this? Did it help you write better?
If you would like a copy of the quick checklist that shows exactly what to listen to and do to get your best writing session ever, you can download it here.
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