Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quiet please. We're writing.

This afternoon I was browsing How I Write: The Secret Lives of Authors, edited by Dan Crowe, and came across a short piece by Nicholson Baker on wearing earplugs while writing. Here are the last three paragraphs:

I can sit anywhere, in any loud place, and work. Everything becomes twenty feet farther away than it really is. The chirping, barking, jingling cash-drawer of a world is out of reach, and therefore more precious.

You must have a good seal. When you unstick your thumb from a jammed-in plug, your eardrum will make a tiny silent cry of pain, like a word in Arabic.

Then you know you have a good seal.

I am very familiar with that Arabic word, as I often hear it when removing the ear buds of my iPod.

I wrote my first novel on the family room computer, with teenagers running in and out, the TV blaring, and the clothes washer and dryer humming in the background. But now I feel tremendously blessed to have a quiet home office. I also like writing in my back garden when nobody's around. I don't need silence to write, but in most moods I prefer it.

How do you like to write? Are you more likely to crank up the stereo, or to seek a quiet spot when you work on your stories?


H.E.Eigler said...

I'm lucky to have my own office but rarely do I get to go in there what with a 9 month old at my feet. When I do get in there, there is music on.

Damyanti said...

I like it quiet. Whether I am traveling, writing from my study or my bed, I usually prefer silence, no music, nothing.

For the last year I have taken up Italian, I have been playing Italian songs from time to time...

I love that pic of your son in your earlier post, he IS awesome, but then, I would have had the same reaction as you had that been my son!

Marianne Arkins said...

Definitely need quiet... I'm typically a multi-tasker, so am easily distracted! LOL...

Carol Burge said...

I'm pretty good at blocking noise out, so I can write just about anywhere. The only time I have trouble doing that is when my grandkids are around. I need to pay attention in case they need me or get hurt. Guess that's the mother instinct kicking in. :)

Kristin said...

I can't listen to any kind of music. Maybe classical, but I prefer silence. I am very good at being able to write if there is background noise. Obviously, if the background noise is a tv that is much more difficult. But talking people, barking dogs, coffee grinders, etc. They don't bother me at all.

In fact, when I used to work in an office, I could block out other conversations around me so well that my co-workers would make up some ludicrous statement about me in a very loud voice. And I wouldn't hear it. I was good for a joke or two before my brain 'heard' them and caught on.

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

I can revise (snippets) in noise and activity, but I do my best producing when the house is asleep.

Even better than went the house is empty.

I do like the idea/image of ear plugs pushing everything 20 feet away: that is so perfect for me! I'll have to try it.

Anita Mae said...

I am lucky enough to have 6 hrs each weekday to write. This is when the kids are at school and hubby is at work. I don't listen to radio or TV when I write so when the kids come home and put the TV on, it's like a jolt to my senses. If I'm doing a scene and want to continue, I either put my earplugs in so that I'm with the kids but can't hear them, or if they're too rambunctious, I'll take my laptop down to my bedroom.
During the holidays and weekends, I'll write after they go to bed at 9 and work until 2 or 3 am. It makes for some late mornings, but the kids are old enough to get their own breakfast. And they know that I am a happy camper when I'm productive and the day goes much better for them then. LOL

Jennifer Shirk said...

I prefer the quiet--maybe a little music in the background sometimes. Then I can be in my "happy place". :)

Patti said...

Hey Brenda! I prefer the quiet when I'm writing(or anything I need to really "focus" on!).
Blessings, Patti (in Georgia, where our Springtime is gorgeous right now! Thank you Lord!)
P.S. Today is April 7 and you haven't blogged lately...sure hope things are okay! :)

Brenda Coulter said...

Pattie, my apologies for leaving you wondering.

I just posted this morning. Thanks for caring.