Tune In. . .to your Writing

Philips headphones

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Do you prefer background noise when you write or do you need total silence?  For me, I prefer the quiet.  When I first began writing, I couldn’t compete with any sound. 

Still today, my best writing takes place in the early hours before the house fills with its everyday noises.  That way I can tune into the voices in my head.

But as a person totally in love with music and the feelings it stirs, I wanted to be like the rest of my writer friends and play some tunes while tapping away at my own keyboard.

Now that I’ve established a regular routine, the noise doesn’t bother me as much.  Although I still prefer quiet, I’ve trained my brain to tune into my storyworld and tune out my surroundings just about anywhere. 

So here’s what I tried:

  • white noise–For some reason, white noise is too loud for me.  My characters start crying for umbrellas in the rain or beg for lifesavers as they try to stay afloat in the ocean.
  • movie soundtracks–I like these because most are without words.  And they are meant to provoke certain moods.  I found these work best for me after I have the basics down and need to use more sensory details in a scene.
  • music of a time period–Right now I’m writing a story that takes place in the 70s.  The sounds of the 70s are crucial to my story.  Even though I can’t keep them playing constantly while I write, I listen to them while I do other things–cook, clean, exercise, etc.  As I’m listening, I jot down song titles that provoke a certain nostalgic mood I need for those lackluster scenes–yes, usually in the middle.  I play the song in the background while I read the scene aloud.  For me, this works well.

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