Right, it’s time for me to turn the tables. This week I want to ask other writers what they listen to while they write. It’s a subject that fascinates me.
You see, I’m dyslexic. Dyslexia is as much a part of me as being right-handed. A brief history of my schooling includes the fact that grades three through five were spent in special ed classes. After that I was mainstreamed. High school followed elementary school, then college and even graduate school to earn a master’s degree in folklore. For the most part my teachers were wonderful and willing to give me extra time and work. I still have what could charitably be termed adventures in spelling and grammar and my handwriting is, frankly, atrocious. Still, unless they see my handwriting, I assume other people can’t tell I have a learning difference.
Except for sound.
I don’t mean that I make any particular sounds, there is no distinctive dyslexic hoot. However, if I am in a room filled with voices, I have great trouble concentrating. If I’m not careful my ear will flit from conversation to conversation, hearing everything except what is actually being said to me. The only way to counteract this, I’ve learned, is to stare fixedly at the person with whom I am speaking. This helps me to block out the other voices. I have also learned to tell people the reason. For several years I couldn’t figure out why in some social situations people would slowly back away from me. Then a friend pointed out my habit of staring at people in the manner of a potential serial killer.
If I need to read something more complicated than a comic strip and the room is noisy, I cover my ears. My family and friends are used to this; it’s just my way of coping.
So you can understand that while I love music, for the most part, it is a separate past time. Unless I’m doing something I don’t have to concentrate on, like washing dishes or cleaning, combining listening to music while I’m doing tasks can result in chaos.
Earlier this year I took part in a class over at LitReactor. The students chatted off topic sometimes and one question posed was “What do you listen to when writing?” Since my answer is ‘silence,’ I read the other students answers with an interest bordering on the indecent. I found myself asking, can people really can have entire playlists for certain projects? I remembered an acknowledgement I had once read by Douglas Adams. In it he mentioned listening to Paul Simon’s album “One Trick Pony” while writing a book.
So I put it to the readers of this blog, do you listen to music while writing? Does it really help you? How?