The Mozart Effect on Writing Fiction

By Kay Springsteen

More surgeons are performing surgery with Mozart playing in the background. For patient relaxation while they’re under the knife? Nope. Because some studies have suggested surgeons who operate under the influence of Mozart do a better job. This report reminded me of the plethora of Mozart-oriented toys and videos for children because, yes, children are prime subjects for studies that show a trend toward easier learning, higher test scores, and earlier progression through the developmental milestones.

Some studies claim:

  • Improved test scores
  • Faster learning time
  • Produces calming effect
  • Reduces errors during tasks
  • Improvements in creativity
  • Faster physical healing

So I asked some fellow authors to participate in an experiment. For those who regularly wrote to music, I asked them to give Mozart a try. For those who didn’t write to music, I asked them to give Mozart a try as well. I asked them to pay particular attention to such things as overall word count, how it felt to write to the music, what they thought of their writing in terms of clarity, sentence construction, word usage, errors, etc. Those writers who participated had the following to say:

J.F. Jenkins: Alright, so I didn’t notice any difference in amount of productivity in terms of individual sprints. I did notice my word usage was different though, and that I was much more inspired than usual. Instead of dragging all day like I have the other few days since Nano started, my brain has been able to come up with plotlines and scene ideas faster so the down time between writing is less. My words also got bigger and it was easier to stay focused. I tried listening to simply movie scores, and those were nice too, but I found myself drifting a lot to actually listen to the music instead of just writing. I’m not sure why that is exactly.

Lisa Gay Greer:  1000 good words in 30 minutes listening to Mozart. I noticed my thoughts went in a new direction, a plot line I hadn’t thought of and that is far from mundane, and I can see middle and end to some extent. so, yes, I think it worked well to open my mind up to creativity. I’ll definitely be doing this again!

Chynna Laird:  The verdict: It was calming; I was more relaxed and completed the assignment I was working on. Yes, it may have had something to do with the fact that I LOVED what I was editing but I’d like to think that the music affected my mood and that affected my concentration and attitude.

J. Gunnar Grey:  Tried this last night, but paid too much attention to the music to write well. Let’s try it again tonight with the same music and see if the initial charm has worn off.

 J. Gunnar Grey, Part 2:  Over a thousand words written while listening, 1 CD=48 minutes x 2. Considering how slowly I usually write, that’s an amazing word count. Oh, and the first chapter is finally finished to my satisfaction.

 Brea Essex: Okay, my results: I wrote for 30 minutes to Mozart, and got 930 words. I wrote for 30 minutes to my regular playlist (all songs with words) and got 988. I’m not noticing much of a difference in sentence construction or language. I have to say, though, that this is the most productive I’ve been all week!

 Jennifer Comeaux:  I listen to my local classical station while I work and they announced Mozart next, so I took out my notebook. 270 words during a 30 minute piece. It was mostly dialogue, but there is one sentence of narrative I’m rather fond of 🙂

Kay Springsteen: I found myself more focused on the story, less distractible. I have a tendency to layer in details afterward and while I wrote to Mozart, I discovered that I did not have as many to layer in after I had completed scenes—the details seemed to flow into the scene naturally without me having to go back and clean up or add to what I’d written.

I’m very interested in other people who perform tasks to music—could be writing, editing, studying, reading, a completely unrelated task (like surgery or cooking dinner). Have you ever tried Mozart in the background?

And feel free to stop by my blog this week for the Save a Turkey: Gobble a Book Blog Hop. Anyone who comments on my blog wins a PDF copy of their choice – 20 different books to choose from. Then follow the link at the end of the blog  to more blogs and prizes.


2 responses to “The Mozart Effect on Writing Fiction

  1. That is really interesting!! I might have to dig out the Mozart cds and give it a try.

  2. Great article! I have Mozart in my playlist already, along with Megadeth, Abba, Beethoven and Garth Brooks. Variety is the spice of life, butI have heard of the Mozart phenom. I’ll have to give it a whirl.

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