There’s a growing debate among writers at every level as to whether a backdrop is required to write at their best.
For some, the presence of a radio is a must-have if they’re going to produce a piece of quality writing. For others, nothing but total silence will do so they can concentrate on their topic.
Where do you fall on this question?
I know for me, I need to have some noise. It needs to be noise that I can’t really get into, like a boring TV show or music that I like, but can tune out.
Writing in dead silence is only an invitation for my mind to wander and try to figure out what every little creak and squeak is—and that’s on a day when I really want “quiet.”
If I’m feeling really productive, the best place for me is a busy coffee shop! (I know, that’s totally Brian Gardner!). There is nothing like the buzz of social activity going on around me in a very busy place and yet focusing on just my writing job.
For some reason, I’m able to completely focus and drown everything else out, even though I really enjoy that particular atmosphere for productivity.
What are the benefits of a backdrop?
Depending on what you’re writing, you might be using some of what you see and hear for inspiration. People watching can bring a lot of unnoticed social behaviors to your attention and perhaps add an element of surprise to your writing.
If it’s music you’re listening to, is there a particular theme to it? Does it put you on a mental path to writing success?
Writers who typically enjoy music are able to work in any kind of environment because they have an excellent ability to focus on the details. I might even add that these are typically parents, executives and similar professionals who know how to work around even the largest amount of noise.
TV shows are an entirely different matter. These programs are set up to grab your attention, draw you in and not let you go until the words “The End” pop up on the screen.
If you’re going to have a TV show going, it needs to either be relevant to what you’re writing about or something you can completely ignore if you choose. This is the only way you’re going to get the benefit of any kind of background noise.
Unexpected benefits of background noise
There are times during every writing project when you need to mentally step away for a moment. Background noise, whether in the form of music or a TV show, allows you to do this but still stay on point.
It’s not beneficial, in my opinion, to start another project when one hasn’t been completed. However, if you give your mind something benign to watch or listen to, it won’t take your mental focus away from your current subject.
Even if you don’t need it, it might be worth trying to work with some type of background noise at all times. Then, when you’re stuck in that situation, you can still produce a piece of quality work no matter where you’re at.
Please share your own opinions of writing backdrops below—we’d love to hear what you prefer and how it affects your writing quality and focus!