Does Music “Unleash Latent Genius”?

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For The Millions, Jacob Lambert explores how listening to music while writing can influence performance. Although some studies show that music may impede concentration and “disrupt writing fluency,” others suggest that music can “lift your mood and increase your arousal.” Lambert is ultimately inconclusive in the article, however he does reference Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, which was written while listening to Nine Inch Nails:

It’s a tempting narrative, and one that fits with the Internet’s culture of simple solutions: If you’re having trouble with that short story, just put on some Brian Eno. Your latent genius will be unleashed.


Jake Slovis earned his MFA in Writing from Rutgers University, where he now teaches English Composition. He is a second-generation Argentine American and has spent significant time living and writing in Buenos Aires. He currently resides in Brooklyn. More from this author →