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Writing with Distractions

I decided to challenge my preconceptions these past few weeks and try some experimentation–writing with and without music or the TV playing in the background.

By far, I’m more productive without any noise in the background (beyond the sound of my typing).

My writing goal for each day on my current novel-in-progress is to write around 500 words each day.  I decided to try measuring how much time I spent each night writing, and how many words I was able to generate.

For my first week, I used my normal routine; writing while a movie or some music played in the background.  I found it took around 2-2.5 hours to write my 500 word quota (which would often include trying to get the phrasing right).

For the second week, I tried turning off all distractions.  I found I wrote more (averaging about 750 words) and spent much less time: 1-1.5 hours.  This left me with time to really enjoy a movie, or go to bed to get some more rest.

While I wasn’t exactly surprised that I was more productive with silence, I was a little surprised at the amount of difference–1.5 times more words, in about half the time.

I also found one productivity boost in the third week:  listening to music I find inspiring immediately before I started work.  This boosted my average to around 800 words in the 1-1.5 hour time frame.

It will remain to be seen in the editing stage whether writing more words has made a difference in quality.  Still, I expect it’s not any worse than my work while there are distractions in the background.  Actually, I’d guess I’ll find it’s better since I can keep everything in my mind more easily.

What are your experiences?  Have you seen similar boosts in productivity?  How has it affected your quality?

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