A little music while you write?

Reading time: Less than 2 minutes

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss an article about a music and writing app called Focus@Will…

I usually can’t bear to listen to music while I’m writing. I find it distracting. But several readers had emailed me about a music-providing app called Focus@Will and suggested I try it.

I did this before going away on holiday for a month and tried it again just now before writing this. Here is my verdict.

The Focus@Will engineers have use neuroscience to select music (or in some cases, sounds — such as the background noise you might find in a coffee shop) that is engaging without being distracting. They even allow you to select whether you want the energy level of the music to be low, medium or high.

Further, they give you plenty of selections. Here is the list of music from which you can choose:

Classical, focus spa, up tempo, alpha chill, acoustical, cinematic, ambient, water, baroque and something called “labs” which includes: different types of coffee shops and a wide selection of drums.

I’ve tried to write with each of these themes playing and I found some more supportive than others. (I liked classical, cinematic and baroque — all in the “low” setting.) The coffee shop sounds also appealed to me.

But here’s my big complaint about the software. I already use an app that gives me the sound of a ticking clock as a background noise while I write. This stems from my use of the Pomodoro Technique. When the clock and the music compete against each other the total noise level starts to feel a bit overwhelming. And, if forced to chose one or the other, I’d take the clock, no contest.

Still, if the idea of writing to music has ever appealed to you, you might want to give Focus@Will a try. The good news is they offer a free 15-day trial (and they didn’t insist on collecting my credit card first, which I appreciated.) Once the free trial has ended, the cost of the service strikes me as reasonable: either $5.83/month or $69.99/year.

Here’s a review in the Business Bee that you might find useful. And if you want to know more about the ticking clock I use, check out this piece.