Most of the time, I like writing to music. Early in the morning, when it’s quiet, I can go either way; but if there’s background noise like voices, tv, etc., I need to put in my earbuds and shut it out.
The question then becomes, which music? I have a bunch of Pandora stations, plus playlists I’ve made up of my own music (of which I had a lot more before a certain person, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, killed my external hard drive — ahem). If I’m using Freedom, no Pandora, but otherwise I tend to use it because it requires less thought on my part and has more variety.
I usually favor wordless music of various sorts. I have a J.S. Bach station, for instance, and a Chopin station, a Herbie Hancock station, some blues and folk — and now, thanks to St. Paddy’s Day, I have a Celtic station going that I really like.
Not that this is the music I listen to otherwise. When I’m in the car, I want driving music, with a good beat. Popular songs that are very familiar to me sometimes work for writing music. But most of the time, music with vocals is too distracting, because the lyrics interfere with the words in my head.
Writers, what about you? What’s your preferred writing environment? Quiet, noisy, isolated, or at a coffee shop? If you listen to music while you write, what music? Book lovers (which I hope is all of us), same questions for your ideal reading environment.