Let me preface this by saying 1) I’ve done all three and 2) there’s no right or wrong way. As long as you’re getting words on the page, you have a reason to celebrate. But if you find yourself frustrated, maybe changing things up with one of these methods will engage your muse and help the words come.
I started writing in the middle of chaos. I had young children. I was losing my mind. I needed to do something for me alone. Writing while they ran screaming through the room—bring it on. Scribbling a sex scene on the front steps while making sure no one ran from the yard into the street—oh yes. Squeezing in a few words while playing referee between squabbling siblings and fixing enough frozen pizzas to feed every kid in the neighborhood—yep.
Not an ideal situation, clearly. However, writing in the middle of a bunch of distractions can help to silence all the voices in your head that want to paralyze you with anxiety or tell you what you wrote isn’t good enough and needs to be revised. While you’re half focused on what’s going on around you, the story can flow out on a subconscious level.
Writing to music: Some authors create their own story-specific playlist. Some authors can only write to music without words. Some only can have music while writing but not while editing or vice versa. I made up playlists for Construction Beauty Queen and A Man Worth Fighting For. For a couple years, I started every writing session listening to Alan Jackson’s To Do What I Do. It’s still my author theme song. My husband works to music whenever he’s not in a meeting or on a call. If it’s too quiet, he can’t concentrate.
Over the past six months, I have discovered silence. I sit alone near a window where I can stare outside, and I write. My thoughts are completely in the story. When my husband’s speaker phone conference calls became too much of a distraction, I dug out the noise cancelling headphones we bought at a NASCAR race. Now when someone turns on the TV in the next room, I put the headphones on. They don’t give me complete silence, but they allow the other voices to be muffled enough that I am cocooned in my characters’ world and no longer feel forced to end my writing day when chaos threatens to take over.
Which writing atmosphere to do you prefer? Silence, music, mayhem or something completely different?