The Right Level of Hum

There’s a new focus room at work. I love it. It’s explicitly dedicated to working in silence which, in a co-working space full of people stuck in all-day meetings, is a godsend for writers.

When I write something serious and challenging, I go to the focus room. When I want to think, I go to the focus room. And yet, I still don’t want to spend all my time at the focus room.

Noise is rarely a good thing, but for a certain type of work, the kind a bee might do, busily swerving from blossom to blossom, the right level of hum can work wonders. Why do people work in coffee shops? Why do tools like Noisli exist? Because sometimes, you want to know you’re not alone — and the business, the sound, the movement of those around you is the consistent feedback you need to stay consistent.

When I cold-pitch my book to journalists, I don’t need meditative silence. I need energy! Music. The clatter of other people typing. Who are they trying to convince? Regardless, I’m not the only one trying to change minds, and that keeps my mind on task.

Most of the time, noise is a distraction. A detour. A slowly unfolding poison. On just the right days, in just the right places, however, it can be a bed of flowers swaying in the wind — and if you’re a bee on those days, there’s nothing to do but to enjoy the sun and pollinate away.