White Noise for Writers (and Readers)

Certain types of noise distract me to the point where writing and most forms of reading become impossible for me.  Conversations, TV shows, music with spoken words.  All are killers for my concentration.

Or I should say have been killers for my concentration.

Ever since getting an iPod a few years ago and filling it with a couple choice items, I’ve been able to blissfully read novels and short stories in the fitness center while the stereo (or TV) blares away.  Similarly, I can pull out my laptop and write in places where the music or nearby conversations would also prove distracting.

Ultra-expensive, noise-cancelling headphones?  Nope. 

First, you need to buy or download a CD with white noise to help cancel out the noise around you.  I’ve bought two. 

I use the first, a “new age” CD of loud ocean waves crashing about, for reading.  The artist is officially listed as The Pacific Ocean and the title that shows up on my iPod is, I kid you not, Lame New Age Track Title Redacted.  I get a kick out of that.

The second CD, which I use for writing, is called High Focus from a company called Brain Sync.  Actually, as I check the link now, it looks like either their server is having problems or they’ve gone belly up.  Probably the latter.

According to them, High Focus uses selected frequencies to help the brain concentrate.  That may be gobbledygook (I suspect it is), but I’ve used it so often with such success that just starting it up acts as a triggering mechanism that gets my brain pointed toward writing. 

Do you need two CDs?  These two?  I don’t think so.  Just get something with reasonably loud white noise. 

Then get a pair of headphones that completely enclose the ears.  They don’t have to be noise-cancelling.  In fact, I turned the noise-cancelling switch off on my first pair because it messed with the white noise in distracting ways.

If you’re concerned about the volume of the white noise being too much for your ears, add a pair of earplugs too.  I use them if I have them and if not, I don’t worry about it.

For me, this simple combination is a godsend.  I can write and read in far more places than before.  I’m a whole lot happier and more productive.