A Semi-Definitive List of Instrumentals to Listen to this NaNoWriMo

Soundtrack blog header

I love instrumental music. I also love NaNoWriMo. So today I’m going to bring you a list of some of my favourite instrumental soundtracks and albums that you might enjoy listening to during this NaNoWriMo!

I’m going to divide these up into genres, just for fun! But of course, you’re welcome to write and listen to anything you feel like listening to!

If You’re Writing Fantasy, Listen To…

The Lord of the Rings is the quintessential fantasy music, of course. While all three soundtracks (plus the three Hobbit soundtracks) are all fantastic, my personal favourite is The Fellowship of the Ring. There’s such melancholy and grace and bittersweetness and happiness all mixed into one glorious CD.

How to Train Your Dragon has quickly become another staple of the fantasy writer. All three of these soundtracks embody much of the same qualities as LOTR. It’s full of whimsy, fun, danger and sadness. All three of them are good, but again, my favourite is the first album and I’ve listened to it a ridiculous amount.

Chris Conway is an amazingly talented artist who I was introduced to through my work’s waiting room playlist. He has some amazing, haunting pieces of Celtic music that would make perfect background music for a fairy/elvish type story. (Note, I’ve only listened to one album by this artist, so I can’t vouch for the cleanness of other works)

If You’re Writing Sci-Fi or Dystopian, Listen To…

The Hunger Games has a brilliant score and I love listening to it. As you listen to the music, you can just feel the tension of being forced to fight to the death or lead a rebellion. If you’re novel deals with anything vaguely futuristic or science fictiony, THG is a great set of soundtracks to start with.

The Flash is not my favourite TV series of all time, but there’s been several long writing sessions which I’ve got through by listening to these soundtracks! They have a definite sci-fi/superhero feel, which will definitely give you the right vibes (ha, Flash joke) and spur you on to the 50k mark!

Star Wars is to sci-fi what LOTR is to fantasy. It’s soundtrack has also been rated as one of the most popular soundtracks ever composed. If you’re going classic sci-fi with spaceship chases, lasers and ray guns, then you surely can’t go wrong with these (also, there’s a lot of them! They’ll keep you going for ages).


If You’re Writing Contemporary, Listen To…

Helen Jane Long is a queen among composers. Her (largely piano) instrumental music is absolutely gorgeous and is my writing music of choice. Her particularly good albums, in my opinion, are Porcelain and Intervention with an awesome single being “The Aviators”. Her music is stunning and the perfect fit for a sweet romance or coming-of-age story.

Riverdance is probably the most instantly recognisable Irish music in the world and it makes for great contemporary background music to the more modern edge it brought to Irish dancing and music. If your novel has British, Irish or dance influences then even better!

Sherlock is a great soundtrack for those whose contemporary leans more toward thriller, mystery or heist than it does romcoms. The soundtracks for the show Sherlock are intense and definitely rack up the tension!

If You’re Writing Historical, Listen To…

Derek and Brandon Fiechter have some great instrumental music in a Celtic and English style. They’re music (in my opinion) is less mystical than the Celtic music I suggested in the fantasy section, so it strikes me as more of a historical feel, for stories set in Britain in the medieval period, maybe? They also have some music with more Eastern inspiration, so if you’re setting is Asian, they’ve covered that too!

Swan Lake is a classic ballet that I’ve been loving lately. Despite the fantastical plot of the ballet, the music is really down to earth and fun to listen to, and it would make a great background to a Regency or Victorian romance!

Chariots of Fire is famous for the beautiful music that accompanies the running along the beach scene. It’s epic in nature and lovely to listen to, but it also really brings in the feelings of 1920s Europe and it would be a great scene-setter for anyone writing a novel set in that period.


So there you have it! I know I didn’t cover all the genres (or even a lot!) but I hope that this selection of some of my favourite instrumental albums and soundtracks helps you find something to listen to this NaNoWriMo season.

What about you guys? Music when writing–yay or nay? What are some of your go-tos (I’d love a few suggestions)? Which movie has the best writing soundtrack in your opinion?


12 thoughts on “A Semi-Definitive List of Instrumentals to Listen to this NaNoWriMo

  1. This is a really great list; I’ll definitely have to check out some of these! I’m definitely someone who listens to music while writing, but most of the time the music I use isn’t instrumental. However, my favorite instrumental soundtracks definitely include The Lord of the Rings; there’s just something about those soundtracks that are so absolutely amazing. I need to relisten to those again! Other than that, a lot of instrumental tracks I use come from Studio Ghibli films–I actually don’t generally like these movies too much but the soundtracks are usually undeniably well-done–and music from historical dramas. The Sons of Liberty soundtrack is one of my favorites and I’m really loving HBO’s John Adams one right now, too. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. HTTYD soundtracks are the best! I mostly listen to the third one. I never thought about listening to the Hunger Games soundtrack, but I might go try it now…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lindsay Stirling also has a lot of violin music that I feel might be good for contemporary!
    This isn’t instrumental, but I listen to Eivor quite a lot while I write. It’s the best thing for breaking up my writer’s block.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was actually this close to putting Lindsay Stirling on this list, but I didn’t end up doing it because all I’ve really listened to from her was her Phantom of the Opera and Sherlock theme covers 😀
    I’ll have to look up Eivor!

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  5. I haven’t listened really listened to the third one yet (except for the twice I’ve watched the movie) so it will probably be a staple soundtrack for this years NaNo.


  6. I also listen to a lot of non-instrumental music when writing, but instrumental is always best for me. Otherwise I get confused and start thinking of the song instead of my plot, or writing the lyrics to the song in my doc 😀
    I haven’t listened to any of the Studio Ghibli soundtracks! I’ll definitely have to give them a go.

    Liked by 1 person

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