Writing in Silence?

I wish I could find the quotation and who said it, but of course, now that I’m looking for it, I can’t. But it was something to the effect of, “When I write, I don’t want anyone else in the room. Not even me.” And to that I say, PREACH!

You hear a lot about how professional writers don’t wait for inspiration, how they write for a certain number of hours every day, no matter what. Once, an accomplished writer recommended to a group of us budding writers that we get up early in the morning and “just be in the silence” when we write. I think my children were still little then, and I wondered, “Silence? What is this ‘silence’ of which you speak?”

But indeed, silence is golden. Especially for writers. I grab that silence whenever I can.

You see, I require a house devoid of distractions when I’m writing. Sure, I’ve seen people with laptops at coffee houses, supposedly working on the Great American Novel. Maybe they’re killing it, but how? How can anyone hear a character’s voice when other voices are drowning him out? How can you believe you’re in another place when you can hear your husband and kids in the next room?

Oh, I’m not saying this is the way to do it. My productivity suffers as a result of this need for silence. If only I could learn to drown out distractions, I could accomplish a lot more every day.

I’ve tried earplugs. They help some. But I’ve decided that plugs in the ears of a writer are like phones in the hands of mothers with young children: the second you use them, everyone suddenly wants your attention. No sooner do I put my earplugs in than someone HAS to ask me a question RIGHT THEN.

So I generally just wait until the kids are at school and my husband is at work, and then I get to work myself.

Of course, even when the house is empty, my kitchen office isn’t exactly distraction free. It always seems that the second I really get into a story, the dryer buzzes, the dog whines, the oven timer beeps, the mailman knocks at the door, and someone calls or texts.

Sometimes I dream of those fabled lake houses or cabins in the woods where novelists go for a week or a month to work on a manuscript. I don’t personally know any novelists wealthy enough to afford such a getaway. Maybe if they had a getaway and could write the novel in such wonderful, sustained peace and quiet, they’d make enough money to afford the cabin or the lake house?

Ah, the catch-22s of writing….


  1. That's really good advice. I REALLY need the quiet when I'm editing. First drafts I often write in front of the TV. ;)

    1. That's amazing! You obviously have much greater focus than I do!


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