Hey folks! So this is going to be one of those “do as I say, not as I do” kinds of posts. I’m going to talk a little bit about how ambient sounds can improve your writing process (notice I said CAN, as this doesn’t work for everyone…but it’s something to try as you experiment with your own methods!). But I will also be the first to admit that I only use ambient sounds sometimes because I am very, very distractable.
Let’s dig in!
The biggest reason I’d personally give for using ambient sounds is to improve your focus. I tend to watch TV while writing (I know, I know…cut me some slack, I work full time and have lots of TV to catch up on and only evenings and weekends to do it!), but if I really need to buckle down and get stuff done, throwing on a pair of noise-canceling headphones and selecting some ambient noise can really help me put my mind to the task.
I’ve found that using sounds can reduce my impulses to check my email and social media obsessively (I have a really bad habit of that) and pull me into the story and the story alone. By limiting what is going into my ears, I’m limiting what my brain is doing and preventing the attention splitting so I can work just on the story.
This next point is really similar to the first. Besides helping to improve focus, using ambient sounds can help get you into the mood for writing more quickly as part of a pre-writing or writing ritual. You may have heard about this before, but it’s part of conditioning yourself to work and your mind to think about writing.
Think of it this way: when you use specific sounds or scents regularly with a specific activity (like a particular candle or ambient sound), those things begin to be associated in your mind. In this way, when you light that candle or turn on that track, your brain settles into writing mode much more quickly because it knows what usually comes with those sensations.
Setting the Mood
Finally, ambient sounds are awesome for setting the mood-something that can apply to both readers and writers (writers, you may even want to suggest the ambient sounds you used to your readers as part of a book soundtrack).
Choosing the right sounds can really help you get into the heart of your book, feel like you’re in the setting, and set the tone. This can also help to improve your focus and get you into the story much faster.
Hopefully by now you’re seeing how closely these three points are linked…ambient sounds do so much with so little! These are just a few quick tips for why ambient sounds may benefit your writing (or reading) process. Next week I’ll share a few of my favorites, including some online sites, offline apps, and a YouTube playlist I have for myself.
But until then, how do you feel about using sounds during your reading or writing? Do you love it? Hate it? Are you like me and know you should use it more but don’t, or do you find it doesn’t do anything to help you? Let me know in the comments below or over on Twitter!
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