Thursday, 17 April 2008

I wonder if other writers prefer silence or background bustle when they write? I used to think I needed absolute silence to concentrate but I find I often put the radio on when I'm writing. I can even write in front of the television (shocking admission!) Music distracts me, but people talking on the radio seems to help me to think. I have also enjoyed bursts of creativity sitting in Starbucks. Isaac Asimov wrote that he found the buzz of a busy venue (like an airport) energising. I think I'm the same sometimes. At other times I prefer quiet.
I have been writing at home in a small room in the middle of the house. I like the fact that it's small but hate being in the centre of the house. My study is, effectively, a corridor that people walk through as it is a short cut from the front door to the kitchen. This is where I am going to make a confession...
One of the reasons I enjoy writing is because it sometimes gives me a feeling that I have some control over something in my life. The decisions I make about my writing may not be completely 'free'. I often reject an idea I would love to keep because it does not work. My characters frequently run away with my words and seem to write their own stories. But it is between me and the words on the page. No one else can dictate to me (until the MS reaches the editor, of course! But I'm still enough of a novice to find even the idea of having an editor incredibly exciting.)
I was going on to say that it annoys me when people walk through my 'space' when I'm writing because I am such a control freak. But that's not it.
To create an imaginary world, like all writers I lose myself in that other place, the world that springs from my imagination. And it's vexing to be distracted from that other, imaginary, place.
So... I'm moving upstairs to an empty bedroom. Not only that, I've bought a NEW DESK! It should be delivered soon. All that remains will be to arrange for my computer to move upstairs with internet access (will that require cables? I've no idea.)
I'm looking forward to having a private space of my own, where I won't be disturbed. I wonder if I'll feel lonely and fret for the irritating interruptions I now grumble about? I have a sneaking suspicion I'll be continually trotting down the stairs to seek out distractions... or blogging. Or will I be incredibly self disciplined and focus on my writing...

20 comments:

Elizabeth Platt said...

I like music when I write. I actually make playlists on iTunes that reflect the characters, scenes and such. I'm like you too, I like writing in coffee shops. My favourite's Cafe Nero on Union Street here in Aberdeen: good coffee, cool music and I love the buzz of the place.

When I'm home I share an office so I've always got people coming through. Drives me a little mad but I like the distraction. I guess I'm still working out how I work best.

AJ Alice said...

Hey,

The quality of whatever I'm writing [school papers, random narratives, poems, blogs, basically anything] varies with background noises as well. Sometimes I even find that if I start a story with one song in the background, I have to replay that song over and over until I've written all I can or the work won't have the same quality or air as it did with the song. That gets annoying because I often play the songs to death.

[ PS: I have no doubt that Romeo and Juliet would have bickered. But bickering is all right sometimes, right? :) ]

Kara Dunn said...

I write in the family room, but no one's home during the day, so I have the place to myself. When I first started writing I needed quiet, but I've learned how to tune it all out if I have to get something done and people are milling about.

Unlike many writers, music is very distracting for me.

BernardL said...

People require attention, which does stop me cold. I can write and ignore nearly everything else with only a few exceptions. As to your internet hookup, if you have a strong enough router, you can pick up the signal anywhere in the house with a good wireless device.

Mima said...

Welcome back! Although I am not a writer, I can empathise with the idea of trying to get something done, and constant distractions, which in that instance I hate, and really throw me. I can tune a lot out though as long as people don't want attention. The worst case is a new carer, when you can get a new question every five minutes!

polona said...

i rarely write things longer than three lines. and i can get ideas for haiku anywhere... but if i try to get inspiration from photos i have taken, i prefer relative peace... not necessarily silence but as few distracting elements as possible.

Bill Clark said...

I'm looking forward to having a private space of my own, where I won't be disturbed.

Don't forget to take the radio upstairs, too! :-)

I predict that you will do better upstairs than in the hallway downstairs. I further predict (hopeful type that I am) that your increased efficiency will lead to more blogging when you need to switch gears.

Post a picture of your new writing lair when you have time!

Bill Clark said...

Oh, in other news, Malcolm Archer and the quiristers of Winchester College came to town earlier in the week. I was fascinated that Malcolm addressed the assembled singers (including one woman faulty member) as "guys". It seems the Pond is turning more and more into a puddle with each passing day. Not only the vocabulary but even the accents seem to be starting to merge...old Sir Winston's bon mot about the Yanks and the Brits being two nations divided by a common language is beginning to lose its punch. Yay for the Special Relationship!

Charles Gramlich said...

I definitely need quiet. I don't like music or radio, though the ambient noise of birds and so on doesn't bother me. I can only do drafting in front of a TV, but I can't write fiction. I bet you'll love your new quiet office.

Leigh Russell said...

ELIZABETH - somehow music distracts me. I'm not sure there is just one way for me to work - I think it depends on how 'inspired' I'm feeling.

AJ ALICE - I understand what you mean about needing the same song - that must be SO annoying! A bit like having a tune on your mind that you can't stop humming. I do that a lot. It really irritates me when I can't get a tune out of my head.

KARA DUNN - I agree about the music. But words (radio) curiously don't seem to distract me, almost as though hearing words helps me to produce them.

BERNARDL - "router"?? You're getting technical...

MIMA - It must be irritating when all the carers ask the same questions. Do you feel like having a tape recording of your answers? I sometimes feel like that on parents' evenings at school when all the parents ask the same question.

POLONA - You must have so many ideas! I wonder where you find your inspiration.

BILL - yes my radio will come with me. As for a photo - I've no idea how to do that! My new room is lovely. It was my daughter's bedroom back in the days. The wall paper is blue with white clouds and there are TWO windows looking out on the garden. I want to have my desk (which is L shaped!!! very exciting!!!) in one corner where I can sit and look out of a window, listening to the radio and blog... How will I ever finish my next book?

CHARLES GRAMLICH - I sometimes find bird song a bit irritating... some birds have a repetitive kind of chirp - but I think I can tune it out.

Akasha Savage said...

I definitely like peace and quiet when I write. I do my best work when I'm all alone and have the house to myself...which these days happens rarely. I work on my laptop, sometimes at the kitchen table; but here it is a bit distracting as I can hear all the goings-on in the rest of our house. But mostly I take myself to the bedroom - often getting into bed whatever the time of day! - and sit propped up by pillows.

Anne Lyken-Garner said...

I can't have music playing in the background as I find that distracting. However, because I still have growing kids, I have to manage with some noise in the background. This is not ideal, but I can't do anything about it at the moment.

Alis said...

Can't do music of any kind when I'm writing, nor the radio but have been known to be able to tune out the telly! I work in a coffee shop at least once a week and find that very energising - why is it that I can ignore people's conversations but not the radio? Maybe Radio 4 is just super-duper fascinating and most conversations aren't!

Leigh Russell said...

AKASHA - that sounds comfy!

ANNE - I'm not sure anything's ideal... and I think my ideal changes as I go along.

ALIS - Yes, it's strange but I find music more distracting than talk. I can write listening to the radio but interesting discussions are distracting. (I think I just seek out distractions... hence all the blogging!)

Middle Ditch said...

Total silence for me. It can give surprises though, like that day, when totally engrossed, going over the written word on the screen, mug of coffee in my hand, the postman suddenly delivered and the clatter of the letter box and the post noisily falling on the floor made me hit the roof. Coffee everywhere. It seemed like hours before the keyboard was dry.

Middle Ditch thirteen is posted

Leigh Russell said...

MIDDLE DITCH - oh no! coffee on the keyboard! I'll be over to check out the next instalment.

MY NEW DESK HAS ARRIVED and it's HUGE... I can't wait to move up there. There's a lovely view from the window. At the moment, I face a nice blank wall... (but will it be more distractions when I can sit and look out of the window???)

polona said...

i'm sure it takes a different kind of inspiration for what i write than for what you do.

and to answer your questions on my blog: yes, i translate my work and yes, i can write in either language. my english is not as smooth as my native language, of course but, strange enough, i find it easier to express myself artistically in english than in slovene.

Leigh Russell said...

That is strange, POLONA, but creativity does not seem to follow the rules of logic, does it?

Bernita said...

I converted a bedroom too.
Need quiet, ie no company and no music.

Mel said...

How I long for my own study, I had one as well until little Lucy arrived, now I long for September, elderst at school all day, middle at school half a day and baby will hopefully nap at some point!
Enjoy but yes I too have tv or radio including music, always have done, must be my muzak