This is the second of three posts focusing on 8 tips for the writing environment. In order to help you do your best writing, you have to know what it is that helps you focus on the writing.
Noise and Light
Noise: Noise is definitely a factor. Some people can’t work with noise and some people can’t work without it. I find the noise of television or conversation a distraction and will most times listen to music while drafting and have been known to sing along. What do I listen to? Whatever will make my characters talk to me. I have learned to make it their choice because I get a lot more done that way. Some characters are very specific about what they will work to.
Melody and Katie are my most finicky about music. Katie loves to listen to Country, Sara Evans is her current fave. And Melody loves Pentatonix and Chase Holfelder, but is much more eclectic in her music tastes, so we’ll see how many different varieties of music and artists the book will take. My crew of Seventh Graders prefer music with no words — which is good because with so many kids all talking at once it is sometimes hard keeping up with their conversations. And Angela likes 70s pop. Whatever will take me into the writing zone as quickly as possible with the characters is what I listen to … always low volume, so as not to distract or clash with the words in my head. After all, I have to hear what the characters are saying above the music, don’t I?
Oddly enough, one of the sounds I have the most difficult time in blocking out is the hushed tones of a library. The low-level noise keeps me from being able to sink into the manuscript, and pretty soon I’m frustrated and packing up my things. If you do like noise while you work, then play music or have the television on low sound. The last thing you want to do is to distract yourself from what you are working on.
Light: Light makes a difference in your concentration factor as well. Do you like the light soft, or bright, or even no light at all? I do the majority of my writing while looking at a computer screen, so my optimum light is a soft, indirect light — if I use any light at all. The mole and I have something in common — a love of the dark.
Overhead fluorescent lights tend to bother me, so if I am in a place that has those, I turn them off so I am do not get a headache from the glare that they cause. In the workplace, my desk is known as the dark side because I do keep the fluorescents off in order to ease the strain on my eyes and keep me from getting a headache. Others need a great deal of light to keep from causing eye strain or fatigue. Writing outdoors? Is the day sunny enough to require sunglasses? Do you need the sunglasses even on a cloudy day to cut down the glare (answer for me is yes.) Be sensitive to your needs and figure out the optimum light to reduce eye strain and keep you focused on your writing tasks.
That’s it for this segment on the writing environment. Check back soon for the next installment of tips. And happy writing.