I used to require absolute silence to write. No music, no TV, no people, absolutely nothing. And then, if my concentration was broken, the day was lost. I could never get back into my story. Once that distraction came, my productivity was shot.
I still prefer to write in silence. There’s something about shutting out the entire world and getting completely wrapped up in my project that just helps my story to flow. But I don’t require it anymore. More importantly, I don’t find it much anymore.
At the moment, I’m sitting at my parents’ dining room table while my nieces and nephew (ages 7, 4, & 2) run around and play with my dog and scream at each other and wait for Grandma to make them grilled cheese sandwiches. Granted, I was balancing my checkbook and now I’m writing a post, I’m not involved in my novel, but the concept still applies. While the kids are here, I don’t get perfect silence. But I’m learning to keep them in the periphery. I can’t shut them out completely, because I need to intervene if someone cries or gets knocked over by the dog or whatever else comes up that needs my attention. But I can think over the noise.
I don’t get perfect silence at home, either. I prefer to write in the morning, when I can, but it doesn’t always happen that way. The problem with that is, my husband is home in the mornings. He works second shift, so he’s always available to interrupt and invade the living room and ask me questions and bang stuff around in the kitchen. He also plays a lot of video games in one of our bedrooms, and the music typically drifts down the hallway and into my brain. Sometimes, when we haven’t seen each other much, I’ve even taken my laptop into the bedroom and sat on the floor while he played. That’s a bit harder to do, because I have a tendency to watch him play instead of focusing on my own work, but at least a little gets done.
The whole point being, if I were to wait for complete silence to write then I would rarely get things done. At least, I wouldn’t get them done when I wanted to get them done. My house is pretty quiet late at night, but I don’t think well that late and would much rather get my work done earlier in the day. Keeping my focus is a mindset, one I’ve struggled to cultivate so that I can work through the noise, buckle down, and get the work done.
Talk to me in the comments. How do you fare working in distracting environments? How do you keep your focus?