Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Q" is for Quiet

I'll be honest, I can't write with noise.  I need peace and quiet.  Is that too much to ask for?

Sometimes, yes.

"HEY! Look at me!"
We have two cats who demand attention (loudly) if they don't get it (see this comic from the genius mind of Matthew Inman at The Oatmeal for a visual), and if I'm in the middle of an awesome scene, I don't particularly want to rub cute little cat tummies.  Any other time, yes, the tummies are irresistible.  But not when I'm writing.

Having a husband is also an automatic +10 noise factor.  Just by existing, he's noisy.  Just to clarify, because I'm aware I have a lot of male readers, I'm assuming this would be the same with having any human roommate, and, to be fair, I can tune most of what he gets into out like he's a giant white noise machine.  But not his Xbox 360.  No.  Not that thing.  For whatever reason, some weird part of my subconscious tunes in and listens to every gunshot, scream, and random Xbox Live trash-talking conversation between 30somethings living at home and 15 year olds who have higher voices than I do.  Why?  I have no idea.  Closing my office door doesn't seem to block out the sounds of Call of Duty: Revolutionary War: Washington vs Cornwallis  (yes, even though I have a vagina I am aware there is no such game; that is supposed to be a joke), and after much griping, bitching and moaning on my part, he now wears headphones.

Those things are a godsend.

But, to get away from every auditory distraction and demand on my attention, I'll often take off and head to the super-awesome library in the neighboring town to get some writing done.  They have free WiFi and I can do research while I'm there, but no one to bring me a turkey sandwich when I get caught up in what I'm doing, so it's mostly a win-win.

I'm also aware that some writers take inspiration from listening to different types of music as they make their way through scenes, while I'm only inspired to bang my head on the keyboard to drown out the noise.  I never write with music.  Well, that's not completely true.  I did work on some of my funnier blog entries to Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, which is not funny at all.  Go figure.

I love music, I really do.  But I find it distracting, and the voices in my head aren't nearly as forthcoming if I'm drowning them out with something else.

How about you?  Do you write with music?  If yes, what?  If no, why not?

xoxo Sarah


  1. No music, no noise, no nothing-- I must have quiet!

  2. I do listen to music while I write. I usually listen to a channel on Pandora. Most of the time it's the Springsteen channel. A lot of the songs are from great musical storytellers, and that's a motivator.

  3. Music is actually a HUGE distraction. I'm a musician and a piano teacher. I might put on something instrumental to help get me in the mood, but it has to end when I'm seriously writing. However, when I write my plays, I like being in the coffee shop.

  4. I write with music, definitely. That or the ball game on in the background.

  5. @Karen and Mary: : I'm with you on that! Shhhh... I don't mind white noise I can tune out that doesn't matter to me...a coffee shop, someone's lawnmower, etc. But anything too close to home and I get irritated, lol.

    @Tim and M.J.: I agree, music is a great motivational tool, and I'm often inspired by a piece I listen to. I'm always in awe of folks who can write with it on...they must be better at turning their brains into their work than I am, lol!

  6. I must have music if there is background noise. Sometimes - if I've got on a mixed playlist, and some tunes are "get up and dance", I do - and this is a good thing.

    Besides that, I like New Age stuff - Steven Halpern with subliminal messages of success is s fav, Celtic music. Old 70's stuff like The Carpenters and Bread.

  7. I like a little music or noise from the coffee shop. My cats demand attention too.

  8. Great post, sometimes quiet is hard to come by. I can write with music so long as it is stuff I listen to frequently. That way I end up tuning it out and it's mostly white noise to cover up random other sounds.

    I have three cats who have various level of attention demands. The one even hangs out with me while I'm taking a soak in the bathtub.

  9. @Carrie: I don't mind white noise like what's in a coffee shop. That, I can deal with. :-)

    @Claire: It's definitely hard to come by. Haha, we have one pervy cat that watches us shower, too, or she'll wait until you get out and try to rub on your legs when you're all wet. Not productive for drying off, or remaining hair-free.

  10. I can't write with noise, either. At least not "serious" writing. I can do blog entries, but I can't have noise if I'm doing novel work. Or even short story work. And certainly not during poetry.
    I did a blog entry about this, actually:

  11. I'm with you...any non-serious writing, I don't care if there's music on, but if I need to get down to business, I'd better not hear a peep.

  12. Sometimes I have to have quiet so I can concentrate, but other times silence drives me up the wall. I usually like some kind of noise in the background, even it it's just the T.V. turned down low. My music preference is anything instrumental, or anything in a language I can't understand.

  13. It's rare for me to write with music. TV or my hubby playing video games yeah... unless it's anime then I can't do anything but stare at the TV. Of course sometimes I do like quiet so I turn everything off and just listen to the voices in my head. Guess it depends on my mood.

  14. Silence is heavenly especially when i am reading!A little music is good though..especially when i am thinking. Great blog.

    I am a new follower from the A-Z Challenge.
    Her World

  15. I'm a huge quiet fan! And like you, my boyfriend seems to always be playing video games at the most inconvenient times! I recently picked up listening to classical music when writing certain things (like school papers) helps me focus, but when writing for pleasure not so much!

  16. Hi Sarah..first, I LOVE the "voices in my head will have to shout"! I want a Tshirt of that.

    I can listen to music IF I feel I've been really focused when starting to write, but I keep it low. Like other mentioned, it's normally too distracting (sometimes I need that, distraction). I do find that I HEAR songs while writing head. That translates onto the page sometimes. Shhhh...

  17. @CR: I love the idea of using music in a language you don't understand. I would guess you'd be more apt to not pay attention to it that way.

    @Patricia: Ah, another one with a gamer husband. :-P

    @Murugi: Thank you for the follow! I'll check out your blog shortly. I'm glad you're enjoying it!

    @Michelle: Classical is great for doing mindless activities. I know a lot of teachers who grade to classical music. :-)

    @BornStoryteller: I really liked that graphic too! I didn't search out there...maybe someone has a shirt available. And I agree...sometimes a distraction is good.