|Writing to music? Or to silence?|
When my husband was writing his recently published book, The IT Chauffeur, he spent nearly a year in his downstairs office wrestling with those things that all writers wrestle with: finding the right words to tell his story.
He was very disciplined about his work, something I admired, making a schedule for himself and sticking to it, day in, day out. Researching the issues, churning out the pages, and handing them over to me for editing.
I know this process well, of course, because I’m a writer too. But there was one thing that drove me crazy: whenever I had to visit his office, I found him hard at work to the accompaniment of his favourite rock radio station.
This station plays current pop and rock favourites, so there’s quite a bit of music. But there are also blaring advertisements, snappy announcers, and fair amount of phone-in contests and generally (what I think are) annoying audio garbage.
This is the soundtrack he wrote to every day.
I have writing friends who listen to jazz or classical music, to music-only radio stations, or to specially selected playlists when they’re working. Friends who write in coffee shops, immersed in a soup of sound.
But me? It has to be quiet – or at least such a wall of sound that it all blends together and becomes a backdrop.
Some writers need music. A recent podcast on CBC’s The Next Chapter featured a “smackdown” – a sort of debate – between two writers discussing their own need for no music or a playlist. I sided with Cathy Marie Buchanan, who said “No music!”
The other view, put forth by writer Andrew Kaufman, suggests that a musical sountrack helps writing by creating a mood and prompting emotional responses. (You can read their arguments on the CBC Books/Canada Writes page, here.)
Nope. Turn off that radio. Silence the playlist. Keep your driveway basketballs and lively café conversation away, please.
When I’m writing, all I want to hear are the words in my head travelling magically to the page.
But that’s just me…