Music to Write By: authors share their playlists for summoning The Muse

Science and technology writer Steve Silberman asked ten of his favorite writers (science authors, poets, bloggers, NYT reporters) to share "their playlists of music that evokes the elusive Muse." The answers ranged from "silence, to Eno, to the Velvet Underground and the White Stripes."

Writers have their secrets and rituals for courting the fickle favor of the Muse. For some, it’s sitting in a certain chair at the right time of day — or getting out of familiar surroundings to type busily away in a café filled with people that might someday be readers. For others, it’s a brisk walk in the open air. Or it’s potions; woe to the poet who finally decides to undertake her epic sestina sequence only to discover that her cupboard is bare of aged Sumatra.

And for many writers, one way to evoke that elusive flow-state of inspiration is music.

Not, mind you, just any music. I love me some Elvis Costello, but trying to eke out an apt phrase while being throttled with the thesaurus of his post-coital tristesse would be impossible. A writer needs a soundtrack that arouses the desire for articulation while denying its consummation by anyone else’s genius.

Enjoy: Music to Write By. (Image: Bach, 'shooped by Dave Grossman)