When they aren’t
maddeningly silent,
as they often pretend,
I sit and I listen
trying to hear
what they have to say.
I write it down
and twist it
this way
and that,
trying to shape it
in to something
for their purposes.
I try to finish
before the irriating
little fellow
with the attitude arrives –
with his motion
and noise –
and forces me
in to myself
where there’s nothing to hear
except my own

© 2016, Gavin Zanker.

Photo by Sean MacEntee licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.


Music To Listen To While Writing


What I listen to while writing depends on the type of writing I’m working on. If I’m hammering out a first draft or just freewriting as fast as my hand will move across the page, then I like a good dose of something upbeat like electroswing. On the other hand if I’m editing or concentrating on a specific problem, I usually find myself listening to something more ambient and electronic.

Popular opinion seems to favour music without lyrics while writing. I can understand how singing can interfere with the thought process – the last thing you want is to accidentally slip a recognisable line from your favourite song in to your main character’s dialogue. I’ve never had trouble with listening to voices while writing myself though, in fact when I don’t fancy music I often work while listening to a gaming stream or an old sitcom that I know word-for-word (looking at you Red Dwarf).

I don’t use the popular streaming services much – Pandora, Spotify etc. I’ve never much liked them because of the intrusive adverts and the need to skip terrible songs which breaks my concentration. I’ve always prefered to keep a music library on my computer (which I was recently told is an old fashioned approach, who knew?).

Then there are people who don’t listen to music at all – writers who can’t work unless they find someplace completely silent. And on the other end of the spectrum there are those who prefer the noise of a busy environment, like a cafe, while they write. JK Rowling is known for writing the first Harry Potter book throughout various cafes in Edinburgh. I have trouble understanding how anyone can concentrate in public places but it clearly works for some people.

So those are my listening habits, how about yours? What helps you stay focused while you’re writing?

© 2015, Gavin Zanker. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Photo by brett jordan licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.