Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 8: Resounding Silence (Or Not)

Not counting the noise in our heads that sometimes drowns out the pitter-patter of writing confidence, can music or background conversations aid in the process?

Although numerous smaller studies (all with fewer than 500 participants) have considered the effect of noise on productivity, mood and creativity, none provide guidance that makes sense to everyone. We have noise machines to help us sleep, can be distracted by "elevator music" in office buildings, are lulled (up to 70 decibels) by the background noise in a coffee shop and can even use a computer program in some workplaces to focus more on the job at hand.

Personally, I can't write fiction listening to any music that affects my moods or it changes the tone. (On the other hand, if the passage requires more moodiness, bring on Grieg.) And after reading some of the literature on noise and creativity, writing in a coffee shop or bookstore is my connection to low-decibel comfort.

I found numerous websites on work-based creativity, but one article struck a "chord" at http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/musiccreativity.jsp:

"Is creativity just the gift of a few--just sprinkled on a few people and that's it? I would argue no, that creativity is something that we all have inside of us and what it's all about is finding out, how do we unlock that creativity," he says."

The "he" in the quote is Parag Chordia, director of the Music Intelligence Lab at Georgia Tech.

Chordia and others emphasize one aspect of creativity that is applicable to writing: We take in everything around us and make it ours by processing the sounds that surround us, the things we touch and how we interpret the emotions garnered from those stimuli. Finally, our writing lives are far richer than we believe at times.

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