This week I shared the following essay by Megan Stielstra with my students: “Where I Write: A Room of One’s Own in the Middle of Everything” to spark discussion of their own writing processes. If you're interested in the writing process at all, go read it. (I can vouch for Stielstra; she's a graduate of Columbia College Chicago's writing program, where I got my own MFA.)
Like Stielstra, I can, frankly, write anywhere. I was a journalist for ten years, and you learn to write with CNN blaring, editors yelling, the phone ringing and your deadline fifteen minutes past.
Stephen King tells how he wrote the first chapter of The Green Mile longhand in the stands during a Red Sox game delay.
I know a writer who wouldn’t be able to stand even the patter of the rain on the stadium roof. She wears gun range ear muffs to block out all sound while writing.
I would go stir crazy within minutes.
I don’t care where I write, but I like to have background noise. Sometimes it’s a movie I’ve seen a hundred times. But most often, my “room of my own” for writing is music. I have 30,000 or more songs on my laptop. I often have music blaring as I write – headphones only if necessary.
Music is essential to my writing. I associate certain songs with novels I’ve written. There are secret soundtracks. Quite often, I know what music the characters are into, what playlists they are listening to, even if it doesn’t make it into the narrative.
If you want to know what music is currently inspiring me - or at least taking my attention - I post a song on my Twitter feed every morning. (It links to Spotify, where you can listen free if you have a Facebook account.) You can check back daily and I love hearing what readers and other music fans think of my choices!