I'm sitting here, working on my re-writes, and listening to this gorgeous compilation CD I put together last year, which I entitled, aptly enough, "Writer's Music." I adore music of all kinds - but I find I can only listen to a certain type as I write. Soft instrumental or slow classical, that's about it. Movie soundtracks are an ideal choice for me. Little Women, Sense & Sensibility, How to Make an American Quilt, Still Breathing, Unfaithful - these are my personal writing favorites. Ones I never, ever tire of hearing. They're soothing and lilting, but not distracting.
Speaking of distracting, I cannot write while watching t.v. or while listening to music with lyrics. It's too "busy" for me, and I can't focus. My mother, on the other hand, must have something going on while she writes. Loud t.v., loud music with lyrics, rock music - none of that bothers her. We often laugh about our opposite tendencies. But that's the beauty of it. We're all different people, just as we're all different writers.
I think the most important thing is figuring out, as a writer, what suits you best. Quiet background music? The noise of t.v.? The bustling of people at a sidewalk cafe? Or simply silence? Whatever facilitates and helps your writing, do it. Because finding something, no matter how small, that gets the best out of ourselves as writers is a goal we should all be seeking on a consistent basis.