Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cone of Silence

Absolute quiet. (Except for the ticking of the clock and the click of our Lab Jezebel’s nails against the wood floor.) Never, ever is our house absolutely quiet. With six adults living here and their crazy schedules, someone is always in a hurry to go somewhere. But today after my husband went to work, everyone else went to Shakespeare rehearsals—two sons are acting, the other two kids are coaches/stage managers.

So I now have four, almost five hours of utter quiet. I’m going to edit. I’m working on the last changes to the sequel to Screwing Up Time. After I make these last few changes, I have one more read through and then a proofread.

I’ve never written/edited in quiet before. I’ve always been a snatch a minute here and there kind of person. I write during music lessons, while cooking dinner, etc. It’s strange to listen to the quiet. To notice that my laptop makes a quiet hum. That my nails tap against the keys. I can even hear myself swallow and breathe.

Will I hear my characters better in the quiet? I can’t wait to find out. My kids would say it doesn’t matter what the noise level is—once the writer’s bubble is engaged, I’m shut off from the world. (It’s kind of like the Cone of Silence in Get Smart.) Once I enter the world of make-believe, nothing else exists. They can ask for just about anything and my answer is “Uh-huh.” And I have no recollection of the conversation. In fact, I used to wonder if I was being scammed. For example, I’d emerge from the bubble when sweat began to roll down my face in February. I’d check the thermostat, and it read 94. My eyes would bulge and smoke would pour my ears and I’d find the culprit. Usually Jacob. I’d be ready to read him the Riot Act. But all four kids would say, “Mom, you said we could turn up the heater to 94 degrees.” (I keep the thermostat set at 67, which I think is generous. But since the circulation in our 70+ year old house is poor, our bedroom is known as the Ice Pit because you can see your breath during the winter. When we watch movies in our bedroom, the kids swathe themselves in blankets with only their eyes peeking out.)

So now, that’s all about to change. The question is can I write/edit in silence?

What about you? Do you prefer quiet or noise when you write?

Here’s the Cone of Silence from Get Smart. 


  1. Go you! I hope you have a great time writing!

    I think I prefer quiet. It's too easy to distract me otherwise. I think I need some ambient noise though.

    By the way, your Shakespeare costumes look great! I seriously wish I could sew because making your own costumes seems like it could be fun. :)

  2. Enjoy your uninterrupted time! I tend to prefer controlled noise--not a crazy din, but a little music or the almost white noise of a coffeeshop going about its business (until some jerk decides to have an hour long, loud, inane cell phone conversation right next to you).

  3. Ahhh, that elusive writing zone - I prefer quiet so that I can hear my characters talking to each other in my head. The real culprit for me is the switching back and forth from noisy to quiet. Either way it is quite a coup to have the house to yourself. Happy writing :)

  4. I prefer noise, particularly music in the background when I write. It helps me think!

  5. I hope you enjoyed your quite writing time. :) I tend to prefer silence when I'm writing, unless I'm in the mood for music--then it usually helps my creativity.

  6. Maybe this is just me, but seeing one's breath in your bedroom, even during the winter, is a relatively rare event.