Noise chases me. And when someone chases me, I run.
Why? Well, I prefer silence in order to write. I know that this is not how everyone operates. Friends and colleagues post their playlists as they write. Wow. How do they do this? When I hear music my mind is pulled away from my own thoughts and I think about the lyrics. Even a dumb song. Even a bad song like Run Joey, Run. I usually even think that whenever I hear a song on the radio that it was cosmically ordained for me to hear it at that moment, and I try to figure out the message. Yes, I’m goofy like that.
So when I write, I rarely put on music, only sometimes during a rewrite phrase when I type hand written comments into a document on my computer. In other words, for an activity I can do on auto-pilot.
And writing in front of a TV. Forget about it. I can’t even talk to someone while the TV is on. This is why I keep my TV off unless I’m watching a weekend movie (I alternate between guilty pleasure chick flicks and art house films).
I know many writers who like to write in a coffee shop surrounded by latte drinkers. Now that’s another talent I don’t possess. When others are around, I’m driven to distraction. I love to listen in on conversations and figure out life stories. This can be frustrating because, due to the ambient noise, I often only get every third word. This makes it a game, like I’m detective of some kind, which isn’t a good habit when you’re trying to write and an especially bad habit when you’re actually at the coffee shop/restaurant with someone else, such as your husband.
When other people are in the house and awake I can also have writing issues. I’m just so aware of their presence in the house that it blocks me creatively. However, I don’t have this issue if my family is sleeping. Up until two years ago, this is part of the reason why I used to write into the middle of the night. I no longer do this for health reasons and my sanity.
The weird thing is — if I’m editing a fellow writer’s work I can operate in a noisy zone. Maybe it’s a different part of the brain? Haven’t quite figured that one out yet.
I have found silence in morning meditation, walks in nature, and during writing retreats. This quiet feeds my writing. I recommend every writer try a retreat sans TV, sans cell even. Maybe even sans computer and listen to the sounds of a pen scratching paper.
Do you need silence? And if so, how do you find it?