Silence in the Writing Lair

March 8, 2010

The Boy and I decided we were going to do a writing retreat this weekend. We had use of a house that we don’t usually have access to. FOR FREE. A big, beautiful, perfect house with lots of rooms and wifi and awesomeness.

So on Saturday morning we packed up our things and hit the road. We arrived at the writing lair at around eleven, and immediately got to work. We worked until around one, then broke for lunch.

“Isn’t this so fun?” we said. “We are going to get so much done, we love the writing lair!”

We ordered Chinese, because the Chinese place near the writing lair is THE BEST. Seriously, we had been looking forward to it all week. After lunch, we decided to nap for like an hour, then get up and start working again.

We napped. We started working again. At around six or so, we started heating up our leftover Chinese food for dinner. And while I was eating my wonton soup, I realized that… it was really quiet at the writing lair.

Like, really, really quiet.

No TV.

No guinea pigs squeaking in the corner.

No neighbors upstairs who make really weird banging noises every single night.

No one buzzing because they are drunk and looking for a different apartment. (That’s never happened, actually. The drunk part, I mean. As far as I know. But it could.)

In fact, in the writing lair, I could hear the clink of my spoon as it hit the bowl. That was the only sound in the whole place.

“Do you hear that?” I asked The Boy. “My spoon is ECHOING THROUGH THE WRITING LAIR!”

For some reason, this was disturbing. We looked around. The place seemed suddenly…dark. And, like, very much in the middle of nowhere.

“Maybe we should just write for a little longer and then go home tonight,” The Boy said. “Then we could get an early start on writing at home tomorrow. I think I’m allergic to something in here anyway.”

“Isn’t that kind of a waste of the writing lair?” I asked, hoping he would say no.

“No,” he said.

So we stared at our screens for a little longer. But it was no use. The place was TOO QUIET. We should have put music on, but it was too late. Frankly, we were slightly creeped out.

So we left. We’d only lasted eight hours. But at least we did get SOME writing done, and we had excellent Chinese food and an okay nap.

It’s not that I can’t write in silence. (Okay, maybe I can’t. Maybe I need at least SOME kind of noise.) But it was more like once I became aware of the silence, I couldn’t get it out of my head.

I might be crazy.

How about you guys? Do you do better writing in silence or do you need noise? Anything else you must have to write?

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Posted by Lauren @ 9:13 am  

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  1. Barbara Dee says:

    I WISH I could write with a music soundtrack, but I can’t. I also can’t write to: lawn mowers, leaf blowers, tree grinders, car alarms, shreiking little kids. Barking dogs (especially Bella, the yellow lab next door) are not great for my word count, either.

    What helps me: purring cats. Rain (when it’s not torrential). Birds chirping (not Canada geese).

    And gum. Whole packs at a time.

    Of course, if someone else is chewing gum super loudly (and it’s the especially slurpy kind)it drives me TOTALLY NUTS, and I can’t type a SINGLE WORDS. But what’s funny is that when I’m chewing gum, I don’t hear a thing.

    Except for that dog.

  2. Christina says:

    I always write with music, whether it’s an essay or one of my stories. In fact, I’m listening to music as I’m writing this. I say silence is too loud. It’s not that I don’t like silence, but a little racket is comforting for me. Maybe you’re just used to all the chaos back at your house, and you felt out of place. I feel that way sometimes, too.


  3. elle strauss says:

    I’m a fan of silence, I have to say.

  4. K says:

    It depends. Sometimes I need music or background noise, but then I go to the library with my laptop and I am non-stop.

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