How Noise Prevents Your Blog From Being Better

Written On Day: 205
A bladed of grass that requires mowing

Skyscraper construction workers risk falling thousands of feet to their death. Loggers have to avoid being hammered into the ground by falling trees. Air traffic controllers must fight urge to end the stress by gulping down bottles of Tylenol.

Writers (bloggers) also have an occupation hazard – one that completely kills the writer’s ability to do their job.

A writer does not just sit down and write. The process starts days before. An idea forms. During the next few days the idea begins to take the shape of words and sentences. Once the writer is ready to put it to paper he begins to prepare himself. Go to bed early to avoid being tired, do not eat to much to avoid being full, stay away from the mother-in-law to prevent rage. All this must be perfectly timed and planned so that when the writer sits down to write everything is perfect – comfortable chair, monitor at the proper distance, coffee at arms reach. Ready to write.

Everything is in balance but then it happens – the writer’s occupational hazard. The one thing that completely destroys a writers ability to write. Noise.

Besides the death aspect, the main difference between the occupation hazard of a logger and a writer is that there is absolutely nothing a writer can do to prevent noise. It is unpredictable and invisible until it happens. Like the game with pop-up gophers, you hit one in the head and another one pops up somewhere else – you can not know when or from where.

Noise comes from the outside world – out of the control of the writer. It can be a barking dog, a chirping bird, a screaming kid, a buzz saw, an ungreased bearing in the cooling fan, a strange clicking noise from an indiscernible source. These noises kill the writer. A construction worker can take extra careful steps, a logger can learn to look up more often , an air traffic controller can take more vacations, but what can a writer do about noise?

Noise is an occupational hazard that all writers must learn to live with. As a writer you know it can kill, but it is a hazard you have accepted. Like a Roman Gladiator you enter the arena knowing that today might be the day the Emperor desires to be entertained by watching his hungry lions chew on man meat.

Unpreventable vs. Stupid Noise

Noise kills and you learn to accept that. You really have no other choice. But what can drive a writer to fits of rage and hair pulling is preventable noise. Noise that does not have to be there, noise that if the noise creator had a dab of decency would prevent from ever existing.

I live in the suburbs. I am surrounded by quaint little houses with lush green lawns. Lawns that need to be cut.

Of course, to fit into society, to be a good and respectable homeowner, the grass should be no taller then 1 inch. Anything above an inch is a disgrace – an insult to anybody who walks by.  It is lawn owner’s civic duty to ensure that the grass is kept at a height that does not offend the people that look at it. This means that the lawn must be mowed at least once every two weeks.

Below is satellite picture of my house and the surrounding area. The yellow marker is where I do most of my writing. The read square around my house is the area in which I can hear a lawn mower.

Lawns around my house that create noise

As you can clearly see there are a lot of lawns around my house. Doing a quick count there are 36 separate lawns. Each of them has grass which is always around 1 inch tall. This means that over the course of 2 weeks I will hear a lawn mower 36 times. On average I hear a lawn mower 2.5 times a day. And this does not include the large public space behind my house that gets mowed by the government. But it does not count because it gets mowed by a large tractor 6:30am Saturday morning – it interferes with my ability to sleep off a Friday night hangover, not my writing.

2.5 times a day my ability to write gets killed by the noise a blade makes slicing off the top 5 percent of a blade of grass.

Unlike a chirping bird, or barking dog, lawn mowing is different because it is a preventable noise. It is a noise that does not have to exist or at least can be reduced to a bare minimum. There are two ways to reduce the noise of lawn mowers:

  1. Increase the socially acceptable grass length. By making 2 inch grass fashionable, the number of times the lawn requires mowing is reduced by half. On average my writing ability would be killed only 1.25 times a day.
  2. Everybody agrees on a specific lawn mowing time. Everybody mow’s the lawn at the same time. This solution has a double benefit: mowing noise is reduced to a specific time, and everybody’s lawn is exactly the same height eliminating grass height envy or grass height scorn.

Although great suggestions, the problem is that the above will never happen. It it one of those things were everybody wins, but regrettably the human race has not evolved enough to make it happen. It is preventable noise but will forever be classed in with the unpreventable and unavoidable noise of a chirping bird or barking dog.

The unfortunate result is that this site suffers. I am sure that if both of the above suggestions were implemented this site would have at least double the posts and as a consequence traffic would be higher and revenue in the 1000’s of dollars.

How does noise prevent you from having a better blog?

  1. July 26th, 2009 at 10:10 | #1

    I tend to play music through my headphones when I’m writing, that solves the problem for me – although I am lucky in that where I live, there is no grass, so no lawnmowers!

  2. August 3rd, 2009 at 04:45 | #2

    Wow, Roman. Sounds to me like you’re about fed up with lawnmowers… lol. I’m sure that if I lived where you do, I’d be tired of them too. Luckily, I live in a neighborhood where the houses aren’t too close to each other, and we have a fairly laid back attitude towards lawnmowing. Yes, it needs to get done, but who cares if it gets taller than 1 inch? Thanks for reminding me NEVER to move to a neighborhood that is like that. People who live lives like that seriously have nothing better to complain about.

    As for noise, my job has hours that majorly cause noise in my life. I don’t work all of my hours in a row, so I often go to work 2 or 3 times a day, so it’s hard for me to find the time to sit down and get work done. Not to mention that there’s incidentals such as grocery shopping, seeing friends and family, etc. Oftentimes when I find time to work, I have to create, even if my idea isn’t fully developed. I can’t sit around and wait for everything to be perfect!

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