Me Against the Music

Chances are, you already saw Round Three of Alison Tyler’s Smut Marathon. (If you didn’t, get on over there right now and VOTE!) This one was quite interesting for me—Alison Tyler asked us to write a short piece inspired by whatever song we wanted. Sounds so easy, right?


See, I love music—but apparently I’m very particular about when I listen to it. The problem is that I’m a singer and a dancer, so I am virtually incapable of listening to music without joining in or bopping around in one way or another. To be clear, I sing all the time in my house, and my neighbors can probably tell you how annoying this is since I love practicing for Karaoke Night in the shower—even when it’s not Karaoke Night. Hell, even if it’s five in the morning. Whatever. I’m singing and dancing in the shower, the living room, the kitchen…

This limits most of my music consumption to two occasions: while I’m driving in my car, and while I’m working out (no, I don’t sing there). Sometimes, I listen when I clean, but often I forget to turn it on and am done before I think of it.

So here Alison Tyler rolls around and asks us to use a song for inspiration. For some reason, I translated this into attempting to listen to music while writing. FAIL. Every time I played the song and broke to write, I kept singing the lyrics—and did you know, it’s quite hard to write what’s in your head when you’re singing along to what someone else wrote from inside her head? Yeah. Impossible. Or at least, it was for me.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but my impression is that many writers are inspired by music and use it to motivate them to write. I think that’s amazing, because it distracts the hell out of me. I can listen to it well in advance and maybe get a feeling or two, but the tune that works best when I’m writing is the sound of my fingers flying over the keyboard and the story blaring itself through my head.

Fine, fine. Other authors don’t use music. Phew. I’m not alone…

But wait.

It occurs to me this problem of mine extends beyond writing—I prefer not to have sex to music, either. No, really. It’s that bad. I won’t stop mid-encounter and say, “Wait! Stop! We must turn off the music!” or anything, but I prefer these things on their own. When it comes to sex, I love every little sound—the catch of a breath, the roll of a budding moan, the smack of skin on skin, and even the gentle brush of a caress. All of that is incredibly sexy to me. And when it comes to music, I’m so overjoyed to hear said clever artist syncing this lyric with that bridge or wickedly intriguing tone that I can’t fully acclimate. In truth, there is some poor bloke out there who can tell you about an 18-year-old me more interested in cooing over Fiona Apple’s Tidal album than our make out session (all right, this might have had more to do with my mediocre enthusiasm about the encounter, but still, I feel for the guy).

Now, I have a friend who is obsessed with music, and he informs me this problem only happens because my “partner isn’t doing it right,” otherwise I’d “connect with the music and the man.” Huh. An interesting theory. Ironically, this friend and I briefly dated years ago, and while we never had sex, he did effectively seduce me in a slow dance to some seriously sexy songs…so okay, maybe he’s right.

Or, maybe I’m just a weirdo. I don’t know. Music and me: it’s a strange relationship. I’m not saying these things never happen simultaneously, but on the whole, I guess I like to savor my activities separately.

Now I’m curious—does anyone else have a problem pairing music with [fill in your chosen activity]? I’d love to know. Please share…or just tell me I’m crazy.

Either way, please don’t forget to vote. I worked hard on this round! 😉


Posted in About, Musings and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Nope – I’m with you pretty much all the way, especially when it comes to editing. Occasionally, I’ll draft with music on, but usually it’s classical or jazz. Never anything with lyrics. Editing though, editing I have to do in silence. I can’t hear the rhythm of a piece if there’s music on. It’s completely the opposite when I run though – running is torture for me without an external beat.

    As for sex.. let’s just say that, if I’m paying attention to whether or not there’s music on, I’m not in the proper space to begin with 😉

  2. I can’t write to music, I get way too distracted. I just tried it the other night, because the characters were having sex to a particular song, but I couldn’t do it. Once I turned off the music I could tune in to that song in my head as I was writing, and that helped me pace.

    Some music enhances my play and sex, and I’m used to using music to mask the sounds of play/sex, especially play because I don’t want cops at my door. I will say that as a migraineur, most of the music that the play in public sex/play spaces makes me leave the space.

    • Phew! Another non-music writer! I knew there were others out there. It’s fabulous you can channel it while writing, though—sometimes I can’t even do that!

      As for the music to mask sounds—definitely don’t want the cops to visit. 🙂 (And I’m sorry to hear about the migraines…I get them too.) Music is a wonderful thing, but clearly, time and place is key.

      Thanks for commenting, Xan!

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