Quiet please, writer working

Day 19 of the A to Z Challenge and post 17. Good old letter Q.

When you sign-up for a challenge where you have to post about each letter of the alphabet, certain letters JUMP out at you at having the potential to be difficult. You might think J and Q, X and Z would be problems. Basically, all the high letter scorers in scrabble.

Q is one that I had a few ideas milling around. I thought about writing a post on Query Letters, but I’ve never written one and if I go the Self-Publishing route, wouldn’t need one. Another idea was about Quarantine and linking that to editing.

In the end, as I’m not at work today and plan a day of writing, I thought about the noises that might distract me.

That got me thinking about Quiet.

Do you need silence to write?

Are you a writer who needs to have peace and quiet to allow your brain to conjure up the words onΒ the page or screen?

I’ve commented on a number of posts over the last six months discussing this very issue. I don’t have problem writing with noise in the background. Often, I have a News Channel on when I write. The volume is low, but I can hear them.Β I do like breaking news πŸ™‚

When the voices are on a drama, I find it difficult to write.Β If I’m working and my wife is watching TV, I plug-in my iPod and listen to music to drown out the noise. Any music is fine apart from classical. For some reason I have to stop what I’m doing and listen to classical music.

I wrote the first 30,000 words for August Camp NaNo last year with the Olympics on in the background. I timed my breaks to the events I wanted to watch (Go Team GB!) but wrote with it on all day long. Maybe I could have written more if I wrote in silence. I might have to give that a go on my next NaNo’ing experience.

How about you? What type of environment do you need to help your writing? Do you put up a sign with Quiet please, writer working?



This is myΒ QΒ post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. A list of all my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts are to be foundΒ here.

Today’s photographs are from the QUEEN’S house, old Buck Palace. This is the best I had for Q!

You'd make an offer to live here wouldn't you?

You’d make an offer to live here wouldn’t you? Not sure about the pink sky, the photo just turned out like this.

Victoria Memorial

The Queen Victoria Memorial

About Pete Denton

I'm a writer working my way through the redrafts of a British crime novel. I also write short stories, flash fiction and some screen writing. Check out my blog for more.
This entry was posted in A to Z Blogging Challenge, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Quiet please, writer working

  1. katemsparkes says:

    Excellent choice for ‘Q’ (though I am curious about Quarantine…)

    I dream of a quiet place to write. Not silent, but quiet. Tranquil. Somewhere like my grandparents’ cottage, alone on an island in a lake, loons calling in the distance, songbirds chattering, maybe a motorboat going by every so often.

    Never going to happen. I have a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old. Only one is in school this year, so there’s always some level of chaos here. If I put up a “Quiet, Please, Writer Working” sign, I’d have little people everywhere asking, “What’s this? Why do you need a sign? What are you writing? Why are you writing? Is this quiet enough? What does it mean you’re a writer? Can I have a snack?”

    There are the precious hours after the boys are in bed and when my husband is working nights, but at this point I’m so used to writing with one ear open and to background noise that I almost can’t work without it. Breaks my heart, I tell you.

    Music helps when I write, anything I like well enough that I don’t have to stop and skip over songs. When I edit, white noise is the best thing. Words befuddle my brain at that point. πŸ™‚

    (I could have written a post on query letters, but the language would not have been suitable for all audiences.)

    • Pete Denton says:

      I’d be interested to read my post on Quarantine. I might do that at some stage anyway.

      You certainly make me appreciate my working environment more. My cat just meows a couple of times and then has a nap. Not the same nagging for snacks πŸ™‚

  2. bronbloxham says:

    While I don’t write fiction, I am studying part time, so plenty of assessment tasks. I find I use either music or silence when writing. I use music to time how long I need to spend on a section of the task. One album – may be half a page – to a page of text… it doesn’t always work but it is a good motivator.

  3. Kenneth Jobe says:

    I’ve found it depends on what I’m working on. If I’m writing a scene or dialogue I really like or am excited about, I can block out pretty much anything. If I’m struggling, I need total silence.

    • Pete Denton says:

      Thanks, Kenneth. A good point about comfort, if the scene is easier to write you can work through pretty much anything, silence for scenes requiring more concentration. Good idea. πŸ™‚

  4. I really like silence these days, because having two toddlers to look after, I so rarely get a moment to myself. But I do sometimes listen to music, ideally something like Mike Oldfield. The other thing I like to listen to is the Self-publishing podcasts (Jonny, Dave and Sean.) But most of all I just like silence.

  5. I definitely need silence to work on a story … blog posts I can do either way … but a story with plot, dialog and such, there’s no other way. Interesting, your story on classical music.

    • Pete Denton says:

      For some reason I can’t work to classical music. I find it too distracting and have to relax and listen to it. Any rabble passing themselves off as musicians and I can work through it. I’m strange like that πŸ™‚

  6. When thing are really rolling, I could write in the middle of a war zone. But when it’s not going well, I need utter silence.

    • Pete Denton says:

      I guess that points to needing our powers of concentration more when things are not going well. Maybe, I’d achieve more if I wrote in silence. I might have to give it a go. πŸ™‚

  7. Elisa says:

    I am just going off of writing my blogging posts and I can have noise, that is fine, but like you I cannot have those talking heads from tv dramas droning on in the background! Argh. Blah blah blah blah blah, guns shooting, people screaming, blah blah. It totally stresses me out! Husband has been watching Homeland or The Wire or Boardwalk Empire and there are some nasty scenes in those shows, especially if you don’t know what is going on. πŸ™‚

  8. I don’t need silence, although silence doesn’t hurt my writing. I can screen most things out, but not drama or horror (even if I’d been a fan – the screams get through my personal filter).

    • Pete Denton says:

      Good to know screams filter through in case you need to react to them to some impending doom. I’m thinking about trying silence to see whether it makes a difference. I might get more done πŸ™‚

  9. Linda Govik says:

    Great post! I don’t need it to be completely silent, but I can’t work with too much noise around me either. Ideal for me is keeping the TV on just a perfect level: not too high, not too low. Music, strangely enough, doesn’t work for me at all – it disturbs me and I can’t concentrate.

    • Pete Denton says:

      Thanks, Linda. I like a little distraction in the background. I do like the TV on just enough to hear the noise, but not enough to stop me from what I’m supposed to be doing πŸ™‚

  10. The queen’s home certainly lines up with my “Q” post today! πŸ™‚

    For writing, I need music to function. Everything I write has a soundtrack and that helps me stay focused.

  11. I can’t write in silence, but I have a very tough time if it’s too loud too. Ideally I tend to write first drafts in one room while a radio is on very low in the next one over. That way it provides a bit of background noise without distracting me with the content.

  12. Subtlekate says:

    Oh dear. I really have to get back to writing.

  13. EllaDee says:

    Quiet is a funny thing… mostly I’m home alone with the radio or TV in the background… and the trains, or in the office with its customary soundtrack of people and printers… occasionally like today, the G.O. is home & chatting, the dishwasher & TV are on and I have to adjust to sharing my attention around it all… best not to hope for too much.

  14. Nagzilla says:

    Sometimes I have to have it quiet, sometimes I need music. I know that I can’t write with the tv on- I find that incredibly distracting. But when I do listen to music, I find that songs with either no lyrics or lyrics I don’t understand tend to work best. So usually it’s either instrumentals, or if I want something more pop-y I listen to my daughter’s J-pop and anime theme songs. They’re fun, but since they’re in Japanese I don’t understand what they’re saying so I can just tune it out. LOL!

    • Pete Denton says:

      Good idea. Listening to foreign language music might be a good thing. I don’t tend to listen to the lyrics anyway so that’s probably why I get away with it. I agree about the tv on being distracting, particularly drama.

  15. jmmcdowell says:

    Quiet is my preferred mode, although I don’t mind too much that I can hear my husband watching TV downstairs when I do. Much as I love music, it’s far too distracting for me to listen to it when I’m writing.

  16. Pink sky…cool! I like background noise, no lyrics or I sing along. Although when I was a teen doing homework I’d listen to charts and miss lots so I guess I shut it out when I’m working.

    • Pete Denton says:

      I don’t know what happened to the sky. It was a blue sky when I took the picture. Something happened between then and it hitting my computer.

      Usually I hate silence, but I’m trying to write in silence to see if I can get more done.

  17. cassmob says:

    I need quiet mostly and don’t like being interrupted or too much noise (hmm,is that being in the zone?). Yes I’d be inclined to bid on the big house, especially if you could guarantee the pink sky, but haven’t won any Lotto, let alone multiple times πŸ˜‰

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