A Recipe for Productivity

My title is a total lie. I just randomly typed a title and that’s not what this blog is about, but it’s related. I’ve discovered a really cool thing.

Noise-canceling headphones!!

*waits for recognition, gold star, wild screams of ecstasy from readers*

What? Not even a pat on the back? Okay, okay, I get it. You’ve all heard of noise-canceling headphones and this is not news for you, but I’m about to change all that.

Step down into the rabbit hole my friends.

I’ve made no secret that I’m dyslexic and I have to employ several different tricks to get my writing to a high level. High enough to be engaging, engrossing, interesting… you know, publishable. Aside from changing fonts for each editing pass, or setting my kindle on landscape mode with the lines more widely spaced, the noise-canceling thingy is a really huge discovery.

Because it has changed my writing habits and it can change yours too.

Since this is starting to sound like a multi-level marketing campaign, I’ll just get on with it:

Along with dyslexia I also have some problems with sensory integration, specifically auditory. I’m really sensitive to background noise; it pulls all my attention or makes it really difficult for me to listen or follow a conversation in a crowded room.

This whole journey started a few weeks ago when I decided to take my laptop out on a field trip to the great wild frontier (or more commonly known as a public place with really crappy WiFi so I wouldn’t be tempted to surf the internet while I was supposed to be writing).

I sat down, propped up my legs on a stool, did a little neck stretch, and in walks a group of riff raffs hell bent on the latest gossip. I swear they talked louder than a gaggle of cheerleaders strung out on pumpkin spice lattes—but the cheerleaders wouldn’t have been half as annoying. Steam came out my ears for a few minutes while I forced myself to concentrate on the project in front of me. At one point I completely gave up and started typing out how annoyed I was instead, in the hope that getting some words on the page would direct my focus back (although now I see that writing about it as it unfolded was not the best way to “refocus”).

Defeated, I packed up my things and moved inside to the café. And what do you know, about ten minutes later it got too cold for the group outside and they moved inside, too. I scrambled up my things again to move outside, except that I noticed a large group of over-stimulated children were on their way to sit out there.

I ended up going home instead.

Wishing that there were some way to block out the sound of background noise, I – wait—hold on–I DID have a way to cut out the sound of background noise. I remembered my husband had noise-canceling-headphones. I ran home and scoured through his things like a monkey thrashing through trash at a zoo.

With my new weapon in hand I brought it to the café the next day for another try. I found ocean sounds on YouTube and settled in. I won’t lie. It was pretty much awesome.

Then my husband showed me something that blew my mind: an app called Ambiance. It’s an app that allows me to download a variety of white noise type sounds. So I guess I’ll keep the husband around for a while. He’s proven he can be useful.

There are fire sounds, war sounds, train sounds, water sounds of every kind. Writing something creepy? Leaky faucet. Writing something mysterious? Creaking oak. Writing something in space? Outer space sounds…

Although, being a science fiction writer I was skeptical at that one.

Now when I’m writing a night scene I pull up my “country night” noise, which is crickets chirping, the occasional frog, even a distant car passing on the highway. Or I’m writing a scene on a busy street corner, I can find traffic noises that fit what I have in mind. Sometimes I just want to zone out and think about the plot and I have sounds set aside for that purpose. Overall, it’s just made me able to focus on what I’m writing much faster than I could before. I get into the zone more quickly and I write more.

But anyway, it’s a really neat tool and so far I’ve been digging it.

I love comments! Every time you comment a new sound will pop onto the Ambiance app for a writer to play with.

One thought on “A Recipe for Productivity

  1. Pam

    Genius. I have considered these headphones before but wasn’t sure how well they work. Officially added to my Christmas list! And the font thing and the landscape thing–great ideas as well.


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