There’s something about working at a food court, right amid the thick of a suburban shopping mall, watching people go about their lives as you type.
So much of writing Is about being quiet and remaining the spectator, making observations, letting the inner voice make its relentless commentary, and observing that too.
In a strange way, after a while, the buzz all around becomes a cushioning white noise. The restless chatter inside dies down, and the narrator dictates the story.
All you have to do then is take it down, and each time you need to pause and regroup, there are the people around you in their motley garb: chattering away into their phones or to each other, the distant drone of announcements, the escalators making their quiet endless way up or down.
And there, you’ve got a scene, or an entire chapter.
When I say ‘you,’ I mean me, of course. I’m sure very few writers find the hubbub of a crowd comforting as they write. For me, I never feel as isolated, protected even, than when surrounded by people who take no notice of me.
When I leave Singapore, I’ll perhaps miss this ability to sit alone more than anything else, because back in India the past few months, it was almost impossible to wander around without the feeling of being watched, judged, and found wanting. Maybe it was me, maybe it was my country. Or, it could be the way I related to my country. Who knows.
For now, here I am, and here’s my story. Break-time spent, back to the world of make-believe I go.
This ended up as a social media post, and seemed to resonate with readers, so I thought of sharing it with you all today.
Do you ever sit and work in the middle of a crowd? Does background noise distract or energize you?
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I get so much work done in coffee shops instead of in my home office.
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I love sitting outdoors at a cafe and working. My productivity does go up, despite the humdrum.
But I haven’t done that in a long time now.
That apart I love working in a park surrounded by all of nature and greenery. Once again the productivity goes up manifold.
Understand your feeling of being watched/judged here in India. But in big cities things are different. And I know even in the smallers ones the change is happening, slowly but surely. 🙂
I have a favorite coffee shop that I sometimes work in. At first, I’m distracted, but I soon settle in and actually get some writing done.
I’ve done so years ago in doctor’s offices or even at work during my lunch hour but some co-workers were paranoid and assumed that I was writing about them (I wasn’t). I did it then because it’s when I had the time to write.
I actually love doing this but haven’t made the time to do it in sooooo long. Thanks for the reminder, D.
Yay! Let us know how it goes, Pam!
I really doubt that I could work in the middle of a crowd. I have a hard time with noise when I read!
lol, I can imagine. I can’t read amid noise, either. But I can write!
I find it difficult to concentrate with people around. I prefer silence. But, I do love to observe people when in a crowd. I haven’t used anyone in my writing, as yet. May be some day 🙂
Yeah on some days, I prefer silence too.
I use crowd watching as a hobby not a work station. 🙂
hahahah for me it is both!
I used to. Since the pandemic, it just kind of vanished.
Yeah. I’ve begun writing/ editing outdoors only this month after my return from India.
I’ve not written in a crowd, but I have done paintings, including on holiday. You get people looking over your shoulder, but I can cope with that. I never notice the noise, I sort of lose myself.
yeah, exactly. Losing myself is exactly what it feels like.
Thank you for sharing!!.. I think it is a matter of the heart… some days it wishes to be alone, to contemplate the tomorrows, to visit memories stored there…. and some days it wishes to be among others, to wonder what their destiny may be as each and every one is unique, to learn more about life… 🙂
Hope your heart is filled with happiness and until we meet again….
May the sun shine all day long
Everything go right, nothing go wrong
May those you love bring love back to you
And may all the wishes you wish come true
True, Larry. The heart is inconsistent. Some days it only wants to be alone.
I don’t like being surrounded by crowds or the associated noise. Having said that, I can see the opportunities for observing people and gaining inspiration.
Yeah, plenty of opportunity for people watching!
No, I don’t work among crowds. Crowds make me tense and agitated. I avoid them as much as possible.
I live in one of the most densely populated city-states in the world, so crowds are a part of my life. I do escape to parks and beaches though–we have many of those here. Sitting at a restaurant, watching the crowds mill about is a different thing, though.
I find crowds confronting and difficult. I am a people watcher (and to my shame an eavesdropper) but couldn’t work in such an environment. I am very glad that you can and do.
I do find crowds difficult, too, but only if I’m standing or walking. If I’m sitting at a table, and the world passes by, it is a bit of people watching and eavesdropping from a safe distance!
I’m too curious about other people to work amidst a crowd!
I’m curious, too, but seems like I can switch it on and off. It becomes like the pomodoro method, Sprints of writing followed by spaces of distraction.
No.oooo …!!! I prefer quiet … I get distracted too easily. But I’m not writing a novel … good luck to all who can! Cheers Hilary
I get distracted at home, somehow. But the minute I sit at a chair outside home the only thing that distracts me is back aches if it is a poorly designed chair.
I overhear conversations that end up in my writing!
Hahaaha this has happened to me, too!
I’ve never done that, Damyanti, but you make such a good argument for it. I can’t wait to try sitting there, surrounded by the energy, buffered by my anonymity…
It is a good experiment for sure–keen to hear how it turns out for you, Jacqui!
I always write amidst chaos. I totally agree with you.
Thanks for stopping by, and cool to meet another writer-amidst-chaos!