Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Writing Under Any Conditions

As I'm writing this, a jackhammer is going off in the background. This is the second day of that particular noise on my block. Yesterday, we heard it almost continuously from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Today it appears to be gracing us with its presence again.

This is not unusual in the city I live in. We seem to be "enjoying" a construction boom. You can't walk more than two blocks without finding some house being torn down or under construction or being remodeled. I'm happy for the construction industry, having all those jobs created, but it can be annoying.

Some writers can write no matter what's going on around them. I know a number of them who regularly write at Starbucks or some other coffee shop. I'm not one of those. I don't even like writing in a relatively quiet library. I want to be at home with my things surrounding me.

But, with all this construction going on, I'm learning to write despite all the distractions. A house next door to ours took almost 5 years to finish before they moved in. Yep, 5 years. That's 5 years of jackhammering, pounding, sawing, Mariachi music... And you have to realize this was all within a few feet of our house, which shook when they were driving in giant metal posts and digging out the basement. Once the construction moved inside, things got better, but there was still plenty of noise.

The noise bothers me more when I'm in the first draft writing phase, less when I'm plotting or doing later edits. How much noise bothers me also depends on how I'm feeling. If I'm a bit under the weather, it bothers me a lot more. But if you have deadlines, you have to learn how to deal with it. I wrote some construction issues into my second book, PAINT THE TOWN DEAD, and I have a short story outlined, which I have yet to write, that involves conflict over construction. And I have other ideas: bodies found in porta potties, bodies falling off of roofs, bodies found in poured concrete...the possibilities are endless

I also invested in some noise-canceling headphones and play my own music to counteract what’s coming in from outside. The construction is still annoying, but I’m learning to deal with it.

What about you all? Are you sensitive to what’s going on around you? Can you do your work (whatever it is) with lots of noise?


Irene Bennett Brown said...

I live in a small town on an acreage by a river, beautifully quiet other than a few birds singing when my window is open. But unlike you, I'm not privy to all those fascinating construction ideas for a mystery novel. As much as I treasure the quiet, I can't help being almost envious.

Sybil Johnson said...

Irene, the place where you live sounds beautiful. I like things quiet as well. You're right, though, all this "chaos" and close proximity of houses does create a lot of possibilities for mystery novels!

Eileen Goudge said...

I live in New York City where noise is a constant. You get used to it, and I've learned the best way to escape is to distract myself by writing. I wrote on 9/11 merely to escape the horrors.