Silence! Writer at Work!

NaNoWriMo Day 3 Word Count: 5,130

Some people like to write with music on. Some people, I’m told, even need music to write.

I am not one of these people.

Although I’ve been known to write with a Curious George audio book playing in the background, I mostly require silence when I write. Especially when I’m just starting a writing session, I’m easily distracted. Music without words is less distracting, but any sound can give me an excuse to stop writing. And really, I don’t need any more excuses to stop writing.

But if I’m really in the zone, anything can be happening and I won’t notice it. Loud music, a radio news report, television shows, children asking me to wipe their butts: all go unnoticed if I’m in the zone.

Luckily for my children, I do most of my writing while they’re asleep.

Now the one exception to the “silence while writing” rule (aside from the “in the zone” exception. Yes, you caught me; there are two exceptions) is if I’m really stuck. Sometimes listening to a particular piece of music can get me from stuck to unstuck on something I’m writing. When it happens, which isn’t often, it’s like I can ride the music into the writing. I have to be careful writing this way, though, because the music will give my writing a distinct flavor. In college, I wrote a personal essay while listening to Ministry’s album Psalm 69. “Jesus Built My Hotrod” had a great influence on the style of that piece.

I’m one of those annoying people who picks up the accent of the person with whom I’m speaking. I think the music-to-writing transfer is a similar phenomenon. Sometimes I think this works. Other times, it clearly doesn’t. But as an unpublished writer with an underlying fear of publishing, anything that helps me have fun with my writing is probably a good thing.

Which is part of why I decided to do NaBloPoMo. I’d not heard of it until my friend Zoie over at TouchstoneZ tweeted me about it. Basically, you’re supposed to post every day for the month of November. Seeing as how I’m already doing Postaday 2011 and mostly posting every day anyway, it seemed like cheating to sign up for another “post-a-day” event. Plus, I’m jumping on the boat three days into the month, but who’s counting?

But I dig the NaBloPoMo prompts, and with NaNoWriMo going, I could use an excuse for a little more writing play. If it’s just me and my novel for too long, I start to get nervous that it’s not going anywhere/isn’t any good. Or I start to live in a strange world somewhere between fiction and reality as my thoughts of my characters bleed into my daily life. Or I just get punchy.

Blogging helps alleviate all of these symptoms.

For the “it’s no good” symptom, a blog post is much shorter than a novel (hopefully), so it’s possible to finish a post without waking my critic. It’s not even possible to write one day’s word count on the novel without waking my critic.

For the “altered state” symptom, blogging about an unrelated topic can help me get my bearings, whether in reality or in fiction. It just helps me see the border better so I’m less worried about crossing over it unwittingly.

And for the “punchy” symptom, blogging lets me get my sillies out. I do better in all aspects of my life when I have an outlet for my sillies.

But then, don’t we all?

12 Replies to “Silence! Writer at Work!”

  1. Hi! It’s nice to meet you! πŸ˜‰ I was fascinated to read your post today; we (and our lives) have so many similarities. It’s neat to learn that I’m not the most unique thing in all the land and that others plug away, for the time being unpublished, day after day in an attempt to follow their dreams. Good luck in your dream chasing!


    1. Thanks for stopping by, joygirl! It’s nice to find kindred spirits. Today’s not been a banner day for me, and it was pleasant to come home to your sweet comment.


  2. Wow! I’m even more impressed with your post after reading the comments. I.can.not.write with my kids in a conscious state in the same room. I can’t concentrate at all and they won’t put up with me on my laptop for 5 minutes.

    I’ve got playlists to listen to that range from white noise, to old nine inch nails, depending on what I need. I often have a playlist going of songs that make me feel something, especially if I’m blocked. Most of the time, I put on, as my dp calls it, hippy dippy yoga music. All the “om shanti’s” blend into the background and move my fingers.

    Thank you for the mention and I’m glad you decided to take another plunge this month. I hope it brings you good things (and many, many eyes to one of my favorite blogs and bloggers)


    1. Thank you, Zoie! You’re always so incredibly supportive of my blogging, and I really appreciate it.


  3. I love your sign! I don’t have kids, but my cats never obey my closed-door policy either. I’m used to typing one-handed as well, but with my cat on my lap as he’s trying to paw the keyboard. πŸ™‚


    1. Thanks for visiting, Sonnet! We’ve got two cats as well. They’re old enough that they don’t bat the keyboard (or my hands) anymore, but the little one especially is quite skilled at getting noticed. The children are easier to ignore, and sometimes (like now) one of them falls asleep on my lap, which kind of makes the difficulty typing worth it.


    1. Thanks for stopping by! Yes, the photo is just a funny. The kids don’t obey closed doors. A think the longest uninterrupted period of writing I got this morning was about five minutes. And much of my writing was done one-handed with a child on my lap telling me the name of every letter I was typing. At least I handle broken concentration better in the morning than in the evening.


  4. I cannot “write-write” with music on. I can write-write with the TV on. Or kids yelling. But not music. At least not music with words. I can get lost in some great instrumentals.


    1. Thanks for stopping by, FireMom! I think that’s why Ministry worked for me in college…I couldn’t understand most of the words. (And the instrumentals weren’t all that great.)


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