Writing with Background Noise

Background noise is a controversial topic for writers. Ask a group of random writers what kind of sounds (if any) they listen to while working, and you’ll get a wide range of answers.

Some people, like my fiancé, love listening to loud music while they get down to work (I personally have to put in the earbuds when he turns on his beloved King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard if I’m working).

Other writers listen to the soft tones of classical music. There are also writers who put on podcasts while they type. Some prefer to pull up a Netflix show to play in the background. A lot of people prefer no noise at all, finding their focus in a quiet corner of the library or even just a room with the door closed.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that I’m unable to listen to anything with words in it while I’m writing. Whether it’s a song, audiobook, podcast, or movie, I lose my concentration as my brain interprets the words.

However, complete silence puts me on edge, so I’ve found my happy medium with nature noises, gentle instrumental music, and white noise.

Sometimes I like to open a window or work outside if the birds are especially cheerful and vocal. I also have a cheap little white noise machine I turn on for some soothing staticky noise.

When actual nature is too quiet and I don’t want to listen to white noise, I frequently turn to YouTube for a suitable video. Alternating playlists helps me retain my focus on my work. If I listen to the same one all the time, I realize that I start tuning it out too much.

Here are some of the YouTube videos I have saved in my playlist:

Since I switched to writing full-time and working from home during the pandemic, I’ve been out of the house less than I previously envisioned. I think listening to a combination of the above sounds helps me feel more relaxed and less isolated.


Do you listen to music or certain sounds while writing? I’d love for you to share your links to calming music and sounds!

Published by Paper Crow Blog

I am a freelance writer and editor of both fiction and non-fiction. My favorite topics include nature, wellness, and magical realism.

5 thoughts on “Writing with Background Noise

  1. I love the idea of listening to nature sounds. I think I am similar to you- I can’t concentrate when songs have words but I do like lilting instrumental songs or ambient sounds. The other day I drove to the beach and listened to the waves lapping at the rocks. The seaside ambience video you shared reminded me of that place so I might listen to that next time I need inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mezruth, Sorry for the late reply on this. I recently got back from an out-of-town trip that lasted a few weeks. I’m so glad you enjoyed the ocean sounds. I wish I lived close enough to the beach to make a quick drive there! Please let me know if you have any recommendations for sounds as well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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