Fiction Writing Tip #3

Quiet all of the noise.

Now, I’m not just talking about the sound of the dryer, the ringer on your phone, email alerts, and Pandora (though we really should sit down sometime and have a serious conversation over coffee about the importance of learning to listen to music rather than using it as a numbing agent for your brain).

I’m talking about all of the noise in your head.

You know, all of those critics grousing online about your shoddy personal taste in literary style; all of those bad reviews labeling your best efforts “vacuous” and “clunky”; all of your fans’ expectations, realistic and un; that to-do list on your refrigerator that keeps swimming before your mind’s eye; that dumb show you watched on Hulu last night whose writer forgot to add yeast to the plot line; that girl in sixth grade who called you fat – Wait, no, keep her noise. You might need it for your story.

Quiet everything else.

And start to write.

Now, a quick word regarding actual noise: There’s nothing more frustrating than being rudely kicked out of the pretend world you’ve been slaving to create by an abrasive sound, such as a honking horn or a slamming door or a loud lady ordering a triple-shot espresso at the coffee bar. For this very reason, I carry a pair of purple earplugs wherever I go. They seem to take the edge off of any peripheral noise in my writing space, and I can merrily type along – slammed doors and all – in a silent, purple state of bliss.