The Most Overlooked Writing Tool of All

If you’re in a Facebook Group for writers, the most common writing question always seems to be…

“What should I buy to write?”

I don’t engage [much] in those discussions anymore, because it’s usually Mac vs Windows, plus that one guy who tells you how cheap and easy it is to write with Linux.

Ugh, I just want to write.

When I bought my latest computer, I splurged on a light, fast, and foldable laptop with great battery life. I wanted to spend more time writing away from the noise and bustle of my house. Gardeners, the washing machine, construction across the street, kids. I knew this shiny, silver laptop was the key.

It worked. It did get me out of the house, but in retrospect, I didn’t get any more writing done than I had with my previous laptop, which had long kept me under house arrest (with hourlong outings until my battery died).

There’s nothing wrong with a new computer, and I’m glad I got it. It got me out of the house. But it also took me to places that were just as noisy, if not noisier, than home! Talking, music, and other people’s notifications were just as bad, if not worse, than the sounds at home.

It turns out that for me, a far better answer to “what should I buy to write?” isn’t a better, faster, lighter computer with amazing battery life. It’s actually something often thought of as even less of a necessity — noise-canceling headphones.

Or as the love-of-my-life calls them, my wife-canceling headphones.

Wife-Cancelling Headphones

Let me reiterate; my wife came up with the term. You can guess why.

From my perspective, my wife is the least of my worries, but there’s still something to the magic of these things.

I put them on, they muffle the world.

I’m less anxious, more focused.

Look, I’m smiling.

In a coffee house.

Ok, I made a list of things that bother me less today, just because I’ve got noise-canceling headphones on.

Noise-Canceling Headphones help block out noises like…

  • leaf blowers
  • kids
  • beep, beep, beep, beep, beep… stupid backing up delivery truck!
  • babies
  • the guy talking on the phone at Starbucks
  • construction
  • that kid at Starbucks who doesn’t know how to lift a chair, so he keeps dragging it around, making that noise. You know that noise.
  • trash truck
  • that fly-fan over the back door at Starbucks
  • wobbly tables

Just kidding about that last one. Wobbly tables suck.

Not just fancy headphones

Many people put on regular, even fancy, super-expensive, high-end headphones, and don’t notice a difference. Sure the music is amazing, but they can’t enjoy it over THAT SOUND FROM THE TABLE NEXT TO YOU!

Those are standard issue headphones, and no matter how pricey and nice, they aren’t designed to cancel noise, merely block some of it out.

Some aren’t even designed for that.

Noise-canceling headphones are another thing entirely. Yes, they block noise, but they also use electronics and microphones that detect troublesome sounds, then cancel them out by producing a sound wave that’s 180 degrees ‘out of phase’ with the original noise.

Seriously. Noise + noise = no noise.

You’d think you’d just hear two horrible noises, but it actually works pretty well!

All joking aside, these things help me write more and write faster because I’m distracted less, which tames my anxiety.

Although I was a bit anxious to spend money on them in the first place.

I have to admit that it felt sort of wrong to spend money on what I once thought of as fancy headphones, but they are a great writing tool.

They are an investment in my writing business just as much as a writing conference or an online course.

I’d argue even more so, actually. They lower my anxiety, block out [some of] the world, and let me write more than ever before.

I still enjoy heading to the coffee house, but I’m no longer forced to just because the neighbor’s gardener came during prime writing time.

Whether I’m at a coffee house, on a plane, a loud hotel room at a writing conference, or even upstairs (with my wife futilely calling me to help with dinner), my writing gets done!

Choosing your noise-canceling headphones

Note — My process was complicated by the fact that I have large ears. I had to buy Bose QuietComfort 35 IIs, which are the only ones that fit well enough.

It’s a good thing I love them, and I do recommend them.

Although I often like to purchase online, I got my headphones at Best Buy, where I could try them on for size, and I’m glad that I did. The brand I would have purchased instead didn’t fit my ears.

I haven’t officially or responsibly reviewed any headphones, myself, and I’ve only tried a few, but below are links to the articles that I used to narrow down my choices.

These are “the best,” noise-canceling headphones

…so they can be pricey, which may not be necessary if you’re not an audiophile (or have smaller ears).

Techradar — The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones

These are “budget” noise-canceling headphones

If you’ve got normal size ears, the world is your oyster, and you can spend quite a bit less!

Tom’s Guide — Budget Noise Canceling Headphones

Noise-canceling headphones might be the best writing tool you can buy

If they can help you write more or better then they are an investment in your writing business just as much as a writing conference or an online course.

For me, they lower my anxiety, block out the unnecessary noise of the world, and let me write more than ever before.

I’m no longer forced to go out, spending money on coffee that’s not even as good as my own, just because the neighbor is building a deck while I’m writing a story.

Whether I’m at a coffee house, on a plane, a loud hotel room at a writing conference, or even upstairs (with my wife futilely calling me to help with dinner), my writing gets done!

You can spend $100 or $350, but if you’ve got a touch of anxiety going on, a pair of decent noice-canceling headphones might help.

Your writing will thank you!

Talk soon!

Roland

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