There's no question in anybody's mind that people are creatures of mood. Mood, what random thing, creates and destroys, wages war and pursues peace, and decides who lives and who dies. Most probably don't look at mood that way, but it's the truth. How many of us were born as a result of momentary passion and how many will be killed from reactionary anger or stupidity? An old definition of mood is "fit of anger." Perhaps a resurrection of such definition would be apropos.
Life. Death. It's all a case of mood.
Art, as we all know, is the greatest motivation for and execution of mood that humanity has ever known or will ever know. Painting, sculpture, theatre, motion picture, dance... all causes and effects of motivation, inspiration, emotion. Each capable of lighting a fire that can burn in artistic and scientific minds alike... but those burns tend to be temporal.
Music, however, has a far greater ability to be "permanent."
No. I am not claiming that music is the greatest form of art. Some might think so (musicians, probably), but such interpretation is solely within the realm of the individual. What I am claiming is that music, unlike other art forms, can be consistently inspirational AND do so while someone is in the process of creating.
Think about it. All you need is some sort of music-playing device and some ear-phones and, bingo, you can write to music, paint to music, sculpt to music, etc (perhaps composing music to other music is a tad difficult, but you get where I'm going). A sad song on repeat can instill the proper level of depression for an author to write a morose passage in a novel. A lively song on repeat can impact a painter's use of bright colors. And the list goes on.
All of this probably seems obvious, and you're probably wondering why I'm wasting my time writing about it. Well, writing to music often works for me and I recommend it to those who are having trouble finding the correct tone for their work. I will admit that attempting to construct plot to music is a little distracting and difficult, but as more writers have issues with characterization than they do plot, this little trick comes in handy. Emotional writing comes from emotional reaction. And reacting emotionally to music is a rather easy thing to do.
Many of you do this already, no doubt, but some of you might not. When I initially started "song-writing" I tended to listen to a preferred radio station or an entire CD. Because of the shift in tone that invariably happens from one song to the next (even the subtle shifts between, say, ballad to ballad), I often found that my writing would wind up wildly inconsistent in tone. But then I tried a single song on repeat. And it works for me.
Of course, we're all different. Perhaps you'd prefer to write to sculpture. Or the wonderful music that is silence. Use whatever sets the mood required to annihilate a blank page staring at you, and the art will follow.