Last night I wanted to work on a poem I’ve been composing.  My family was gone, the house peaceful–which for me means heightened senses.  The appliances roar.  The dust bunnies scream for attention.  The windows suddenly must be cleaned.  My ears ring with the quiet.  I’ve tried several approaches to silencing the internal and external noise.

I love music, possibly too much for it to be effective white noise.  As for the trend of writing to soundtracks, even if this might be inspirational, I haven’t found the time to put together a playlist.

I tried writing with a partner.  I thought it would be good to have someone else there as an external motivator.  It ended up feeling awkward and forced.  Maybe finding the “right” person to sit silently tapping with would have made this work, or it might be something I could acclimate myself to.  Haven’t completely given up on this idea.

I tried writing in a small group.  6 of us at a retreat.  I was able to do goal-setting and editing, but not much creative work.  I think it combined and exacerbated the writing partner and silence problems.  (Funny thing, some of the attendees plugged in to their music.  It works for them!)  I did my best only original composition when I moved outside.  I had nature noise and space and no dirty dishes in view telling me I was being irresponsible.

The thing that has worked best for me is to find a moderately noisy place and work alone.  I guess I’m an ambivert writer–I need a balance of society and self.  I’ve done a great deal of writing in libraries, which are not as quiet as they once were (and this is not bad).  If they are echo-y and there’s one kid screaming his lungs out down the hall, it doesn’t work, but a low buzz is perfect.

Back to last night.  I opted to write at a nearby restaurant.  It was busy and there was music playing at a level that made it fade into the people noise around me.  I finished 4 first draft stanzas, much to my surprise and pleasure.  I was so focused that, a couple of times, I didn’t notice the waiter when he appeared.  He picked up on what I was doing pretty quickly and tried to accommodate me, which was nice and made me feel like less of a jerk.  (I tipped him well.)

What I’ve learned through these experiments is that writing in a sidewalk café would probably be perfect for me.  That’s really annoying, but there it is.  I need low to moderate noise, not something distinguishable and not silence.

What type of atmosphere do you create best in?  What do you do to help you focus and work?

(PS–still working the A to Z Challenge!  Down to 2 days.  Kudos to all who have managed the daily blog grind this month!)

  1. Liz Brownlee says:

    Same as you! I find a little noise seems to stimulate the brain. Not music,no,no. Vut a little noise, fine.

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