Perhaps you’re familiar with the relatively recent phenomenon of authors putting playlists at the ends of their novels. Sometimes they’re presented as a notional soundtrack to the action of the book. Sometimes those lists of tunes are simply what they were listening to while they wrote. The latter case has always struck me funny, because I can’t listen to music while writing. I can’t deny it my attention, which of course deprives the story on the drawing board of the attention it requires.
It’s a bit of a handicap, for two reasons. First is my tinnitus, which can be as obtrusive as anything audible. The second is that playing music helps to shut out other background noise that can be just as distracting. Anyone who shares his home with children or animals, or who lives in a busy area, will know how annoying those background noises can be.
However, I may have made an important discovery: the genuine soundtrack, which is entirely without vocals and usually designed merely to enhance the emotional impact of the action on the movie screen. I’ve tried playing one of those as I wrote this morning, and not only was it not distracting, it served admirably to blot out the noises from the regiment of plumbers laboring over my pipes, the groundskeepers mowing my front yard, and the gentleman I’d engaged to power-wash the house.
Here’s the first one: the soundtrack to The Bourne Identity:
The second of the soundtracks I played this morning wasn’t for a “real” movie but for a video game: Tomb Raider: A Survivor Is Born:
They worked excellently well for me, providing coverage for the background noise (and my tinnitus) while allowing me to concentrate on my prose. If not being able to play music as you write has been a problem for you, try the above and let me know about the results.