How Quiet Helps Me as a Songwriter

There is a lot of noise out there—a lot of different kinds of noises.

I know I can get a little frustrated by the busy sounds outside my window. There are grating construction sounds, cars and planes passing by and sirens going strong throughout the day. There is this kind of buzz from the news at the back of my mind, phones going off with various notifications all day, grasping for my attention.

And then there’s music. Some of us can’t live without a little bit of it in the background—that’s why we’re musicians, right? Or maybe it’s podcasts. Both of these things are consistent noise, hardly letting a moment of silence through for hours on end. Everyone is different, but I’m guessing there are others like me and this endless noise is actually quite disruptive.

Both of these things are consistent noise, hardly letting a moment of silence through for hours on end.

Perhaps we’re afraid of this quiet. It feels awkward, uncomfortable. If you’ve been on a binge of content for days, or even weeks, the quiet feels like an ironic hammering in your brain. The absence of that something can be that painful. It is for me.

Initially, getting past this hurdle takes a little bit of time. I don’t usually realize when I’ve been spinning in this cycle of noise because it’s a bit like a fish understanding the fishbowl. It’s very easy to get caught up in it, and a telltale sign for me is when I’m having a lot of difficulty focusing. The attention span gets lower and lower, I’m unable to concentrate on reading books and I can’t get through the day without having something on in the background. When I can’t focus, I can’t write.

Sometimes the clarity helps me write a song.

With silence, sometimes our minds go to places we don’t appreciate. I find this ultimately helps me; I feel re-introduced to my self-reflection. It usually means I need to spend some time with my journal (or a therapist), and eventually, I get to a place where I feel ready to create again. Sometimes the clarity helps me write a song.

We can’t always have quiet to ourselves. Some of us live next to a busy road or have a baby that cries to communicate. If you can, it may help to carve times in the day where you know you can have a little time to yourself. I’m extremely grateful to have quiet, to have this simple approach that is so beneficial to my art.

Sometimes the clarity helps me write a song.

There are types of people who actually thrive on noise, but for me, the quiet is an absolute necessity. Yes, the silence is uncomfortable, but how does one write with noise in the background? How can we hear our own thoughts if we’re consuming someone else’s? How can we—just maybe—become bored enough to create something new?

I will, at times, turn to music and search for something to inspire me. But more often, I turn off all the noise and let the music come to me.

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