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Sometimes Listen To Christian Pop When I Write, But I'm Not Religious

Music plays a significant role in my writing process. Putting together a playlist for any new story idea is pretty much one of if not the first things I'll do, even if all I have to go on is a single character name and the foggiest of concepts in my head. It lets me get a feel for the vibe of the story and explore different thematic elements I might want to weave into it. It's also helpful for refocusing myself when I'm coming back to a project after time away from it.

When I'm actually writing, if my surroundings don't allow for silence, I'll usually be listening to lo-fi music like the well-known lofi hip hop radio 📚 - beats to relax/study to or various POV playlists on YouTube (eg you're a hopeless romantic but in the 19th century). It's just enough to drown out the background noise without being distracting.

Sometimes, though, I find myself instead logging into my Pandora account and loading up a Christian pop station.

It may sound like not too big of a deal, and it honestly isn't. But it may come as a surprise to people who know me in real life. I'm not a religious person. The specifics of why and my personal beliefs aren't relevant to this post so I won't be delving into them at this time.

As a disclaimer, I'm not strictly anti-religion. I'm typically of the mind that as long as you find value in it and you're not harming anyone or pressuring or unkind towards those who do not share your faith, it's all cool. It's just not for me.

That said, there are several Christian bands and artists that I listen to on a regular basis, notably Skillet and Relient K, and I've recently gotten into Unspoken. Others I tend to play mostly during the holiday season, such as For King & Country or TobyMac.

Also, The Prince of Egypt is easily in my top ten movies period and its soundtrack ranks highly for me as well.

When I've mentioned one of the aforementioned artists or that I listen to Christian music during occasional writing sessions in the past, it sometimes catches people off guard if they know me well enough.

That's why I thought it'd be interesting to dive into some of the reasons I listen to Christian pop when I write, even though I myself am not religious!

My Characters And Some Brief Historical Context

Historical accuracy is something I shoot for in my writing. If you're new to the blog—firstly, hello and welcome to my corner of the internet!—I write Regency Era romances, which puts my stories in 1810s England.

During this time, England's population was predominately Christian—Protestant specifically—under The Church of England, which held significant influence over the country and was largely supported in various ways by wealthy landowners. There was also a movement to revitalize a sense of spirituality in everyday life.

If you did not identify as Protestant and were for example Catholic or Presbyterian, you would be counted as a "Dissenter."

Christianity is such an integral part of the Regency Era and its society, so omitting it in my writing would be an unfaithful portrayal. It's the world my characters live in and are part of. Even if it's my own take on it, there are still the historical, factual aspects that cannot be swayed or discarded.

As such, approximately 98% of characters across my various WIPs at the time of writing this post identify as Protestant. The one outspoken Dissenter of the bunch is one of the protagonists from a for-now-shelved project who grew up Catholic but is essentially an atheist in adulthood.

For the characters that do fall into the Protestant crowd, it would be expected that they'd attend church services on Sundays. They also read and reference scripture and pray often. Though I haven't done so yet, I do have plans to eventually write a few stories featuring characters who are involved with the church either as their career or volunteering.

How Does Listening To Christian Music Come Into Play When I Write?

Music is a tool I rely on heavily as a writer, not only for getting me into a good headspace but for getting me into my characters' heads.

I could devote an entire post to what attributes were expected of an "accomplished" woman in the Regency Era, but among them is musical talent. For a few of my characters, like Kate, this involves playing an instrument. In her case, this is the pianoforte, but might also include the harp or the flute. It was not uncommon for anyone musically skilled to play as a means of providing background music during small gatherings or even perform to demonstrate one's proficiency in order to potentially attract a suitor. And, of course, musicians were a must-have at balls and assemblies if there was any dancing to be had!

Among the songs one might learn to play would be country dances (as Jane Austen mentions in a letter to her sister, Cassandra), folk music, and potentially hymns.

When I first started incorporating occasional Christian music into my writing sessions, it was instrumental at first to add a bit of ambiance, as if I were writing in a Regency Era library and a resident of the home was playing the pianoforte down the hall. And sometimes, I would switch to a contemporary station on Pandora.

One thing you'll sometimes see in my WIP-inspired playlists is the kind of music my characters might listen to if they existed in our world, and I can't imagine there wouldn't be at least one or two that would listen to contemporary Christian music.

It can also be for something as simple as the vibe. Chris Rice's rendition of "How Great Thou Art" was included in my playlist for the aforementioned shelved-for-now WIP. Even though the hymn wouldn't be written for another seventy years or so, his voice reminded me of a non-Dissenter protagonist and fit in with scenes of him playing his late mother's pianoforte. It just felt right.

Speaking of vibes, I've found that Christian contemporary music aids in exploring thematic elements. Dare I say I find it inspirational?

Many of my WIPs involve themes one might expect to be covered in a Bible study like forgiveness, redemption, grief, and healing. In the time I've been exploring Christian pop, I've been able to get a sense of how my devout characters might interpret events through the lens of their faith.

It's a level of insight I may not have found otherwise!

Even though religion doesn't play a major role in my personal life, it's something that pops up in my stories pretty frequently. Given the historical context of my romances, it shouldn't come as a surprise that most of my characters are devout Christians whose faith is as woven into them as it was in Regency Era society.

Chrisitan pop has become a surprisingly helpful resource for me as a writer. It's helped me begin to infuse a new layer of authenticity into my stories and characters that I hope future readers will resonate with.

Don't be afraid to seek out unexpected resources as a writer! You never know what may be helpful for your stories.



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