Posted by on Dec 11, 2006 in good writing, music, procrastination | 7 Comments

A Room without a View

Where do you write?

My PC monitor faces a blank corner of the room, not a single picture or postcard alleviates this boring view and to see out of the window I have to turn through nearly 360 degrees.

I’m not one of those writers who can cope with distraction – if I can see the clouds moving or the washing on the line, I’ll happily gaze at it instead of writing.

I don’t listen to music either, as that has far too much power to draw me out of what I’m working on, instead I listen to talk radio, for two reasons

  1. it helps me with dialogue – I pick up rhythms of speech and accents that I can incorporate into my work
  2. it reminds me of things, or piques mY interest in subjects – over the weekend, for example, as I was editing a piece for a website, I heard the announcer mention ‘that peculiar jazzman John ‘Jack’ Purvis’.

Now I’ve written about Coltrane and Beiderbecke, and I’m still working on an Art Blakey story I started over eighteen months ago, but I’d forgotten the notorious Purvis, robber, fraudster, old lag and possible faker of his own death, as well as trumpet and trombone player with some of the world’s best jazz ensembles. I scribbled down his name and have an idea already for a story.

So what helps or hinders your writing – do you know and have you done anything to make yourself more productive?


  1. B.A. Goodjohn
    11th December 2006

    I listen to medieval madrigals and motets while I write. I NEVER listen to them any other time but there must be something about the tone or rhythm.

  2. Tribeless
    11th December 2006

    I often listen to talkback when doing the day job, especially when doing mundane tasks.

    When writing, though, I need quiet, just a bit of light classical in background and bucket loads of coffee and tea.


  3. Nik's Blog
    11th December 2006

    For optimum writing my desk has to be reasonably clean with only relevant notes/notebooks/post-its to hand. No music or radio at all, otherwise it sneaks into my brain and onto the page without me noticing until I edit. A bottle of water/cup of tea seems to help as well.

    Going for a walk boosts my output (even when things are going well). Even if it’s just a stroll down the street or around the garden, it’s good for clearing the mind, arranging ideas – and it’s definitely good for the back.

  4. Tom Saunders
    11th December 2006

    The walls of my writing room are covered with photos, beer mats, rejections, maps, newspaper cuttings and posters. When I’m writing the room disappears so there’s nothing to distract me. I can put music on, but after the first few minutes I no longer hear it.

  5. HilaryMack
    11th December 2006

    I put music on sometimes. The best is in French, because I can listen and not get distracted by it. I also like some English but not anything easy to sing along to. (Funny, I sing along to the French at other times, but not when writing.) I can’t write if there is radio or TV on, but can write if my kids are talking.

  6. kathrynoh
    11th December 2006

    I have a few CDs I listen to when I’m writing. I refuse to add them to my ipod or listen to them at other times because they’d stop being my writing music. It’s like a trigger – I hear the music and know it’s writing time.

  7. TitaniaWrites
    12th December 2006

    I can’t listen to any music at all when I am writing at my desk, which is against two walls covered in pictures and a corkboard plastered with articles from NewScientist which I am hoping might be inspiration for stories.

    However, my favourite place to write is in a cafe, preferably one that isn’t too quiet, this helps me concentrate. Although at home I can’t stand it, in cafes I don’t mind people chattering or background music, I seem to slip into the writing zone quicker.


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