Thursday, August 16, 2007

Music or Silence

I’m not sure what kind of background noise, if any, writers like to have. For me, if I have a choice, I prefer either silence or music.

Up until this year, I would always turn on music. It just seemed to add to the overall experience, further dropping me into whatever piece I was working on. That said, I found that my preference swayed towards classical and orchestral soundtracks. Anything with lyrics generally distracted me, which is odd because I usually don’t pay attention to lyrics in the first place. It feels like a sung conversation that I can’t quite tune out.

When I started changing my editing habits by really thinking through everything quite carefully, I found that all music distracted me. I needed complete silence. I admit that part of my problem may have been that ever since installing Windows Vista, my media player stalls every couple of minutes for up to five seconds at a time. Aside from that irritating issue, I think the high concentration comes from the difference in what I’m doing during an edit. When writing from scratch, everything goes down, don’t stop to think, write, write, write. Then, I have to go back and make sense of the story, pick it apart, and ensure that it flows poetically and succinctly.

Last night, I found myself back to the skipping music, even during an edit phase. The difference, though, is that now I’m on light cleanup. The colossal edit has already taken place, and I’m just left picking up the loose nuts and bolts off the floor. I wanted something more than silence to help set the mood.

I don’t know that I’m consistent with my preferences these days, and with our daughter arriving later this year (yes, the latest ultrasound revealed that it’s a girl), my definition of silence will likely change anyway. I wonder if a writer’s preference on background sounds ties into what is being written, or if it is simply a matter of personality. Does anyone write happy children’s stories about lambs while listening to death metal?

1 comment:

Bess Wuertz said...

Does this mean I'm supposed to fix your PC so the music stops skipping? I can take a hint...