Writing Through Noise


Let’s talk about constant noise. They’re doing work on the facade of my building, and there it is, the dull rounded, distant sound of the concrete drills on the one side; the higher-pitched vibration as the reverberation echoes through the walls. Awesome.

Meanwhile, of course, I’m trying to write. Focusing on something like a blog post, or even an article like the ones you can find under “The Other Stuff I’m Writing” on the sidebar seems to be fine. But a novel?


It’s a strange trick of perception, the ability to push the omnipresent noise to the background in some cases, while in others it fills your ears, pushing through to your brain until you can’t be sure if it’s inside or outside of your head. But the noise will be here for quite a while, so the two of us will have to learn to coexist.

I can’t write with music that has lyrics, so when it’s time to work on my current novel, a sequel to my cozy mystery, I plug in the noise-cancelling headphones and crank up the classical. I find it actually gets me typing faster, depending on the piece. But not Beethoven’s 9th. Especially not the Chicago Symphony Orchestra version conducted by Sir George Solti. No, that will stop you dead in your tracks. It’s too glorious to share your attention.

But that’s the thing with writing. It’s all a mental game when it comes to distractions.

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