Is It Better to Work in Silence or With Background Noise?

There was a time that I would say it is better to work with some background noise. Hands-down. I thought I got more done and it felt kind of more like an office-with-coworkers environment. I typically had the TV on Food Network. It wasn’t ever up loud, but enough that I knew there was something going on.

Sometimes I would work with music and often found myself singing along. Obviously that wasn’t very conducive to getting anything done.

Then the cable company made some changes and we could no longer get cable through just the TV connection and had to have a box. When we moved here, I misplaced my box, so I was basically forced to work in silence. (I have since found the cable box but still have not yet hooked it up.)

I was surprised at how much more I got done. I was surprised to notice that my creativity had apparently been dulled by the background noise. I had effectively made it where I couldn’t hear myself.

That’s not a good position to be in.

I’m torn. I don’t know if I want to connect the cable box or not. I’m afraid it would mean reverting back to bad habits. (At the same time, though, I miss Food Network.) Now, the lack of TV does not mean I always work in silence. I’ve found Evan Carmichael on YouTube and his productivity music playlists. They’re mostly dance music with little-to-no lyrics. When I have a lot of stuff to do and I really don’t want to do it or I have a short time to work, I turn on one of those videos. (They’re about an hour and a half each.) One day, I got more done than I thought possible.

I don’t listen to the music a lot, but I have discovered it can be an effective tool for getting me in the mood/mindset to get things done.

What do you think? Do you work better in silence or with background noise?

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Kevin Welch at the Goddard Center

jenmomkevinwelchI just had an amazing weekend and I wanted to tell you about it.

My mom (that’s her on the right) went to a Kevin Welch concert at the Goddard Center in Ardmore, Oklahoma, on Friday. The concert was Kevin Welch, a country music singer and songwriter (that part will become important in a minute) and his son Dustin.

Kevin played his guitar. Dustin played two kinds of guitar and a banjo. They sang together and separately. Each sang backup for the other. They have a beautiful harmony. We had front row seats and didn’t miss a ting.

Remember the part about songwriting?

On Saturday, they had a songwriting workshop. Kevin said these workshops are normally 2-3 days. This one was fro 10:00 to 3:00 on Saturday. He said it was difficult to figure out what to include and what to leave out in such a short workshop.

It was pretty intense.

We talked about shapes, patterns, rhymes (or not rhymes) as they pertain to songs. We also talked about such things as a prechorus, chorus, and bridge. The use of metaphor and cinematic writing and so much more!

Several people brought their guitars. One man brought his mandola. He said it’s like a Chinese mandolin but with one extra string. We went around he table where participants played and sang what they were working on. Except me. I had two lines of a chorus that I didn’t know what to do with and I (currently) don’t play guitar. The woman beside me didn’t play either.

As the workshop was winding down, Kevin said we didn’t even touch on allegory or parables in songwriting. Honestly, I don’t know if my head could have handled much more. I was already on information overload and couldn’t even start processing everything until today. Thank goodness for taking notes!

It was a great workshop!

If you’re ever in Ardmore during business hours, be sure and go to the Goddard Center and check it out! I didn’t get to see near enough of it and can’t wait to go back!

Soundtracks for Writing

What do you have going in the background when you’re writing? Do you prefer silence or do you have the TV or radio/other music source on?

I can write in silence, but more often than not, I prefer to have something on in the background. If it’s not something that annoys me, I actually find that it helps me to focus better.

Why?

When I was growing up and doing homework, my mom was a babysitter. There was always something going on. I got used to working with background noise. That has actually served me well in various jobs. With writing, I tend to have to create my own background noise.

Often, I’ll have the TV on in the background. Sometimes I’ll pay attention to it, but usually it’s just there as white noise.

When I’m writing fiction, though, I will usually turn some music on. My musical preferences are dictated by the current project. For example, with my NaNoWriMo story, I’m listening to a lot of modern rock (especially Shinedown) and some classic country.

I know. Odd combination, right?

But it works for my characters. The heroine listens to modern rock. The hero listens to classic country. (And a couple days ago, I actually found his theme song when it comes to her. “Shameless” by Garth Brooks.)

Feel free to leave a comment. How do you prefer to work? In silence or something in the background? Why or why not?