Some people find music totally distracting and other people can’t work without it. I find that I don’t fall on one side or the other. There are times when I need to work in total silence, and music is a total distraction. However, in reality, total silence can never be achieved and the next best thing is a constant stream of background noise that blocks out other noises that are more distracting. For example, if I can hear people having a conversation when I’m trying to work, I find it very distracting because even if I don’t realise it, I’m subconsciously listening and if I hear something that relates to me, I would completely loose concentration. However if I had in some headphones with some music on, I wouldn’t be able to hear anything of the conversation so I couldn’t be distracted by it. It’s the same way in libraries – generally very quite places, the slightest pin drop causes everyone to swivel round and see what it was. With background music this doesn’t tend to happen. Of course the music has to be a specific type. You don’t wan’t the music to distract you, just be there in the background to drown out other distractions.
I found that listening to music helped me write a lot faster in a very unexpected way. I was listening to a song on Youtube while writing one day and then it finished, and there was nothing else in the playlist afterwards, so the music went dead. Instead of immediately going to find another track I said to myself, you can put another song on, after you’ve written another 100 words. I quickly wrote the 100 words and then put on another song, but this time, while the song was playing, I couldn’t help thinking – what if I can write another 100 words before the end of the song? That was it! Race on! I typed faster than I had done all day and just about managed 100 words by the end of the song. When the song finished and before I played another one, I wrote another 100 words and so the cycle continued. 100 words while listening to a song, 100 words while waiting to listen to a song. It sounds incredibly simple but it works like a dream. While the song is playing you are stimulated by the music and while you are waiting for a song, you are stimulated by the reward of a song at the end of your 100 words.
This works great for me when writing because it PREVENTS me from thinking too much. It stops me worrying about what I’m writing and if it sounds good because that is not important when you initially write. HOWEVER…. I cannot listen to music when I am trying to edit and refine something that I have previously written, I simply cannot think and concentrate on the exact problems which I face, so I would not recommend listening to music while editing you draft.
That being said, the way people work and write are very personal and one of my main aims with this blog is to give food for thought with some of the many ways I have tried, both successfully and unsuccessfully to work.
Give it a try, at the very least you’ll get to listen to some of your favourite music