As long as I can remember, I’ve had to sleep with a fan on for noise. The dead silence of night is absolutely deafening to me. I’m lucky that I married a guy who is the same, because that could have been an issue! Fans are considered white noise, which, like the color white, is pretty much all the frequencies put together and bouncing back at you. This helps block out individual noises that could be distracting (source). To me, it’s just meditative and soothing.
When I was in school, I had better concentration when there was background noise while I was studying. It could be music, or TV reruns (which I don’t find a distraction, but a comfort). I’ve always been different with writing though. If I listen to music or try to write with the TV on my mind will wander.
When the days of laptops came around there was so much disdain for the writers who went to coffee shops to write, but as soon as I had a laptop I jumped on that bandwagon. Yes, I did it at first to “feel like a writer,” but I found out that there was some magic in there that really did boost my productivity.
Of course, there’s no such thing as magic. Some thought on the matter was that it’s just fun (I agree), or that people work because they don’t want to feel like they are there not doing anything, or that their mind is making them work because they feel competitive with other’s there. For me, I completely buy into the idea that it’s the noise level. The chatter, the machines, the music: they all add up to creating a noise level that isn’t too loud or too quiet. It makes sense. I’ll go to another coffee shop if my closest one is too crowded, and I don’t get quite as much done if I’m at a place that is dead.
So, should I try to use noise to recreate the productivity magic at home? I love the idea that you can set a ritual and “hack your brain” to switch into productivity/writing mode when it hears something specific. I just haven’t found the right thing for me yet. I tried having certain playlists made just for the project I’m working on, but lost more time trying to find the “perfect playlist” that I should have been using writing. are working on (for me, I can’t use songs with lyrics). I tried Brain.fm, which came highly recommended, but that wasn’t right for me. I’ve seen some writers recommend “brown noise” and some articles touting the greatness of “pink noise,” but I really just don’t get all of that sciency-stuff.
I’m a sucker for a good productivity hack, but this is all getting too complicated for me. In the end, I’ll sleep with the fan, work with the TV on, and treat myself to occasional coffee shop writing. If you have any good (and easy to do/understand) ideas, let me know!