• Rachel Niemczyk

Too Loud To Write? How to Write Despite the Noise

Updated: Mar 9, 2019



Image by mohamed_hassan on Pixabay

If you’re a writer who needs background noise to write you can stop reading this now. Trust me when I say this information won’t help you. On the other hand, if you need silence to write and struggle to think clearly when there’s too much noise in your environment, read on!

I have to admit I’m one of those writers who needs silence to think and write clearly. This would be fine if I had a private office in the country to work out of, but that’s definitely not the case. If like me you live in the city, work around several louder individuals, or have to meet with clients in a loud office, you need to learn how to write in a loud space. Below are the tips & tricks I’ve learned to help me write despite the noise around me. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me!

If you have the freedom to move around within the building:

  • Move into an out of the way room. Noise tends to amplify as it goes down long or centrally located corridors. If you can move into a room that’s off of the center aisle / hallway, you’ll instantly cut down the noise level. (Just make sure you tell anybody who needs to be able to find you easily where you went.)

  • Create a portable office. Writing doesn’t require a lot of supplies or space. If you think about it, you’ll find you just need a laptop, notebook, pen, and some research documents. Find a box or bag large enough to store all of these supplies so they’re easily portable, and you can move to whatever space in the building is quietest. (Again, just make sure you tell anybody who needs to be able to find you where you’ll be.)

If you have the freedom to redecorate your space:

  • Soundproof your space. There are numerous articles available on the internet that can teach you how to soundproof your space, this one is my favorite. By reading these articles you can learn how to soundproof your walls, doors, windows, and ceilings. Some options require a bit more handywork than others, but there are also simple solutions you can find online (ex. adding thick rugs, using soundproofing curtains, etc.)

If you don’t have freedom to move in the building or redecorate your space:

  • Close the door (if you have one). This won’t block all the noise, but it will block some of it. You may even want to put up a sign that reads “Quiet Please: Writer at Work” to discourage being interrupted by housemates or co-workers.

  • Invest in earplugs or noise cancelling headphones. This may not be the most comfortable solution, but it does work fairly well when you can’t get up and go as you please. Earplugs are more budget friendly, but less effective than noise cancelling headphones. If you need to keep an ear out for somebody, only using one earplug or one side of the headphone will still help.

  • Use white noise to block out the environmental noise. This may sound like an odd solution but it works! The white noise in question doesn’t have to be from an actual white noise machine (although it can be). All it needs to be is some soothing music that you can focus on instead of the noise around you. You may want it loud enough to block out your environment, or you may want it just loud enough that it’s easier to focus on. (And since it’s not as distracting, it will be easier to tune out when you need to work.)

  • Take lunch at a different time. Lunch time tends to be quieter because most people leave the workspace to eat. This means lunchtime is perfect when you need to get some writing done! If you can learn to eat at a different time than the majority of people around you (whether earlier or later) you’ll be able to use the quiet time to write.

  • Write in bursts. Sometimes when it’s too difficult to think over long periods of time it’s easier to think in short bursts. Give yourself a time limit to write in (ex. 5 minutes, 10 minutes etc.) then allow yourself a break. It’ll be less overwhelming to write when you don’t have to focus long term in a distracting environment, and the adrenaline from the time limit can help you get more writing accomplished.

  • Stay fed and hydrated. Even though it may not seem like it, not eating/drinking anything when you are hungry/thirsty destabilizes you blood sugar levels and places stress on the brain. Stable blood sugar levels are necessary to think clearly and feel calmer. Snack regularly, try to get those 8oz of water a day in, and you’ll be at your best to deal with the unproductive environment you're working in.

Do you have any other tips / tricks for dealing with a noisy environment? Share your experiences in the comments below so we can all learn from each other!

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