Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Writing, eating, watching, listening
My teacher always used to tell us that the exam room was a 'quiet room.'
Well, it's true, isn't it? This was in response to a class of pupils who, during valuable revision time at home, listened to AC/DC full blast, sang along with Kylie Minogue and watched re-runs of Falcon Crest out of the corner of his or her eye.
As much as I loved the old Radio One back in the day with Simon Bates, Gary Davis and Steve Wright in the afternoon (look, I can quote the whole schedule), I always had to turn it off when studying for my GCSEs and A Levels. When I needed to knuckle down to A Level French, the radio, I found, was a real distraction.
As a result, the writing room is always a quite room for me. No noise, no music, no chat, and no distractions - I need to think, please! And no eating either. Eating something makes me focus on the act of chewing and tasting. And Lord help us, if it's a bumper size bag of crisps or a family pack of Maltesers - think of those evil grams of fat sneaking their way into your system. The crumbs go all over the place anyway - they get stuck between the keys and the screen gets all greasy if you happen to touch it with an oily crisp finger - believe me, I have done in the office.
I do however confess to having the television on in the background, but the volume has to be turned down to a rather muted 'one' on the Sky handset. The programme will almost always be factual - it's usually a property show which is a repeat, or I might put on Sky News. But I can't watch or listen to MTV, or else I end up singing along.
And I can't have people talking to me either. However, it's very different in the office where there's constant to-ing and fro-ing of people, chat and calls and radio. I don't seem to have a problem when it comes to factual writing, but when fiction is calling me, I need silence.
I never understood people who could listen to music while writing. If anything, I would take a ten minute break and put on a tune on my Ipod and listen to it really loudly while feasting on a packet of cheese and onion crisps. Then it's back to the drawing board.
So are you a writing-snacker? Or not?