Bring on the noise, I’m trying to Concentrate!
Creating the right atmosphere to write is a matter of personal preference. There are plenty of people who demand absolute quiet in order to concentrate. I know when I’ve had to monitor writing exams for my students all that silence just makes me nervous, and I cringe at the thought of ever having to compose anything comprehensible in such thick, oppressive auditory vacuum. Most of the time, the same thing applies at home. If everything’s quiet when I sit down to the computer, I suddenly have visions of vast psychological wastelands where the only sound is one lone cricket chirping or the distant cry of a hawk. Silence makes my skin crawl and blows my concentration out of the water.
I often wonder, am I the exception or the rule? Maybe it’s a sad commentary on society that I can concentrate with the sound of a television in the background intermingled with my son’s audible involvement in his latest video game, but I can’t handle either silence or music, unless it’s rather bland classical. According to the counseling services at Kansas State University, Baroque music fits that bill. Bach, Handel and Vivaldi are among the most famous composers of this era. Guess what? I happen to like their music, so now I can just add it to the background noise I need to concentrate.
If you need noise, either to help you concentrate or to drown out other noise, there’s even a website that will provide you with it. It’s called Simply Noise, and that’s what it provides in three varieties: white, pink, and brown. I like the brown best, but I think I’ll still stick with the television and my son.
What I discovered in checking into this idea of working with or without noise is that it is an ongoing and likely insolvable question because it will always come back to what works best for the individual. Among the other writers I asked, the verdict was almost two to one for quiet.
My latest book, which released July 4, 2011, brought all of this back to me. Winning Heart, from Lyrical Press, originally came to be six years ago. I wrote at home with dogs, kids, husband and television providing plenty of noise and interruption. I wrote while my son attended baseball practice. I wrote while I carried on conversations with other parents, and I had the laptop perched on metal bleachers. At the time, I thought this need to write among noise was a holdover from my years of working in a television newsroom, but I have since discovered that I crave some degree of background noise no matter what. In some strange way, it helps me to focus my attention on the task at hand and tune out not only the noise, but all the other distractions.
So the bottom line is, while I’m listening to my television, my music, or my son…if you need to put in your ear plugs or your noise reduction headphones…that’s perfectly normal. Happy writing!
It is interesting how us writers work in so many different ways - I need absolute quiet to creative but love noise around me when I'm writing blog posts or completing interviews because it helps me articulate more of who I am away from the actual writing. Does that make sense?