Does Creativity Occur in Silence?


Do you need to have the television on or the radio playing to get your creative juices flowing – or do you need silence?  For some people it is a combination or it depends on their mood or their projects for the day.

I have often wondered whether or not I was at my creative best in silence or with the company of the radio or television.  The fact that great ideas for client projects seem to come to me in the shower or while I am eating or driving made me think that I was not giving myself enough quiet time to be my best.

Over the last couple of months I have been paying attention to my work patterns and decided to conduct an experiment for myself.  For those of you who are entrepreneurs and work from home you can probably relate to this scenario.

You wake up in the morning and your office is calling to you – no matter what time it is.  But getting up and going straight in to the computer can feel isolated so you turn on the television with the thought that you will “get tuned into what’s going on in the world” while you check emails.  The morning show gives you quick teasers about the upcoming stories and before you know it an hour has gone by and they are still telling you what will be “coming up next.”  (I swear they spend more time telling you about an upcoming story then actually delivering it to you.)

Although you think you are multi-tasking you are really distracted-tasking.  Your focus may be on the email or the blog but part of you is still listening to the television or the radio.  At least that is how I have been feeling lately.  So I decided to make a change.

Starting a couple of weeks ago I did not turn on any distractions first thing in the morning.  I committed to begin my work whenever I got up and keep going as the flow dictated.  What a difference it has made in just a short time.  I have always found that first thing in the morning is my best writing time and I was jeopardizing that by my need not to feel isolated.  In addition, when I turned on the television for company my real starting time was delayed by at least an hour or two.

I realize not every week (or day) will be as creative and productive for me as these last few have been.  I will have times when my brain does not want to create and I have to be willing to change my pattern.  This week I am getting up to speed with a new client, which means reading her latest book.  This allows me to substitute an hour or two of just reading if I cannot make the keyboard sing when I had planned to write.

If you are a morning person and you do your best work first thing before client issues come up, take full advantage of that time.  If you are accustomed to starting your day with the company of your favorite morning show – try to resist turning it on.  Record it and watch it during lunch or later in the day.  You will probably find that the “breaking story” of the day is really not that big of a deal and you could spend two minutes reading about it or watching the video online instead of waiting an hour to see the 5-minute segment live.

Consider it this way – if you start your day creative and productive, you won’t feel guilty about taking a break in the afternoon (after a full eight hours of work).  You can always jump back in and check emails and work on projects after you have given your brain time to percolate in a relaxed state.  Who knows what might come to your mind when you are taking a walk outside for a half hour or even doing the dishes?

What do you do to be your most creative?  Do you need silence?  Do you work better with the occasional distraction? I would love to learn new ways of being creative – and productive.  Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

3 Responses to “Does Creativity Occur in Silence?”

  1. 1 Phillip Tanzilo

    Mine come to me during sleep and meditation. Also, I find that when I write down distracting thoughts like other things I need to do, this clears those and allows me to focus and be more innovative and creative. Surprisingly, I can get a lot done in a coffee shop with the background noise.

  2. 2 Christine


    Thank you for sharing how you tap into your creativity.

    I agree with the background noise of a coffee shop or energy of my local library – sometimes being among other people who are also working helps to keep me productive.

  3. 3 Pat Wooldridge

    I find that making a list first(FIRST!)thing in the morning clears my mind. Usually when I begin work in my home studio, I start my CD player (4 or 5 discs already loaded). The music varies depending on my mood. It ranges from Bryan Ferry (!) to Phil Coulter Irish instrumentals–so well done–including, above all, compositions by John Barry; Giovanni Marradi. Also, believe it or not,Ian Tyson’s music, often called ‘cowboy folk’. He’s very smart,knows just how to write a song that leaves you with a good feeling. Any or all of this just carries me into creativity, as none of the choices are jarring at all. I seldom work well in total silence, though there ARE days when that happens.

    I work best without people around, but might do okay at the library and plan to give it a try. Also the coffee shop down on Main Street, just to experiment.

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