How is your concentration when you're in a noisy room? Can you read? Can you write?
It used to be that I could read in the living room while the television was on and a sewing circle gabbed away a mile a minute, and not miss a beat. Tuning out annoyances was a learned skill when I was a kid--ignoring the bullies on the bus helped hone that skill at an early age. Nowadays though, I can get sucked out of my reading if so much as a car drives by outside. I dunno, maybe I just need more beta-carotene or probiotics or something.
I bring this up only because noise has a nasty habit of messing with my writing too. Any writing, really. I learned this the hard way over the holidays. My mind was basically fried after the first storm-related power outage on Boxing Day, and all of the stress entailed with a domino effect of crap that followed. I sent out a submission on December 30th, my final submission of 2010, while a boisterous conversation carried on next to me and some kind of construction went on the floor above. Sufficed to say my concentration was a bit frazzled at that moment, and when I got the unsettling suspicion on January 2nd that I'd addressed the editor by the wrong friggin' name and without internet at home through which to double check, I was forced to wait until the 4th to get online.
Fortunately, I did use the correct name--unfortunately still got rejected--but the seeds of doubt were planted because my mind wasn't keenly focused on the matter at hand when I was going about it. And that was because of noise.
Back in September I sent out a submission and because of hindered concentration neglected to attach the document to the e-mail. I felt like a schmuck when I realized that amateur-hour flub. Thankfully I didn't finish off the year with another such goof. Though, 2011 is just getting started and it's not like I'm immune to noise again.
So, how do you work when in a noisy environment? Got any tips?