Have a White (Noise) Christmas

Those of you who are parents, do you remember the days when "white noise" was your friend? A colicky baby could often be called by the hum of tires on highway, the warm rumble of the dryer, or the soothing whir of an oscillating fan.

In more recent years, I've found these same sorts of sounds an invitation to allow my mind to drift aimlessly, tumbling, spinning, and whirling through ideas like a hawk on rising thermals. With the background noises of everyday silences, imagination fills the void with striking images, creative associations... mirages that we can later flesh out at our keyboards or on a pad of paper.

Some of my most compelling ideas had taken shape while driving across barren plains beyond the reach of radio, walking along a beach or hiking through a desert. But often, they occur at home: while running out the hot water in an overlong shower, vacuuming the carpet, or washing dishes by hand.

There's something hypnotic about white noise, something able to take the mind beyond the reach of humdrum worries and allow it to open up to greater possibilites.

So as this holiday season winds down, try turning off the TV, tuning out the music, shutting down the Wii, and carving out a little space from family. Try connecting with the soft hum of the universe and listening for the settling snow of fresh ideas.

Question for the day: Where do you come up with your best, most creative brainstorms? Any tips for quieting the mind for creative thought?


Many ideas come to me as I'm falling asleep, either at night or for my afternoon rest. Then I try to convince myself that, NO, I will not remember when I awake later and should turn on the light and write down the subtitle, metaphor or insight. I'm batting 500 on that mental argument, even though I make it easy by keeping a pad and a pen-light-combo on my nightstand.

Like you, I also have ideas whenever I'm alone and not writing or reading: while driving, waiting in line, eating lunch, working out at the gym, and doing laundry.

Hey, this gives me an idea...

I enjoy your blog. Happy New Year!
With hope, Wendy
Lark said…
Most of my best ideas happen when I wake up at about 4:30 or 5:00 each morning and lie in bed thinking. Story problems that baffled me the afternoon before miraculously solve themselves in that half dream state.

Inspiration also hits while I listen to music--often obscure tracks by artists I've never heard of, downloaded for reasons I've forgotten. Gotta love iTunes.

Hope you had a marvelous Christmas!

Nice hearing from you, Wendy and Lark, and thanks so much to both of you.

I come up with a lot of ideas in the dream-twilight of early morning, too, or before falling asleep. I also have a light pen and pad by my bedside, which many times leads me to discover that come morning, my ideas made no sense. But there are a few gems now and then that make it worthwhile.

Hope you both had a lovely Christmas!

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