The Rhythm of Writing

When you’re in the midst of writing something, you settle into a natural rhythm.  The words set the backbeat and the fingers follow the melody in your mind.  Yesterday, when I sat down to write about the sun, there was a lot of racket outside my window as four corners of an intersection were being torn up to replace the sewer drains.  I decided to put on my closed-ear headphones, crank some iTunes music to drown out the heavy machinery, and write my article.  I discovered, to my dismay, that something had changed as my natural writing manner was out-of-sync with my eye.  My fingers couldn’t find the melody.  My words had no natural backbeat.

I soon realized  I was missing the auditory feedback of my keyboard keys clacking their response to my inspired fingers because I was listening to music in my headphones.  Being unable to hear that plastic rhythm was throwing off my writing style and I had lost all intention.

I didn’t want to take off my headphones because it was better to be out of sync than to be overwhelmed with drilling machines pulverizing granite — but I still needed to write something for the day.

I decided I needed to find the right song to match my mood and writing style of the moment, and instead of hearing my auditory tactile typing feedback for my driving rhythm, I would  listen to Lou Rawls‘ incredible rendition of “Tobacco Road” from his “Live at the Century Plaza” album over and over again.  If you know the song, and read my article, you can sync the music with the rhythm of the sentences.

Finding your rhythm throughout the day is an important task because your internal metronome is what helps propel you forward and out of stasis.  Sometimes environmental sounds can push you, other times, you may need to create your own false rhythm to trick your body into obeying the future.

I find doing jumping jacks can reset my internal metronome and get me up and moving ahead again. If you find yourself feeling logy and out-of-step, change your backbeat! Get up. Move. Clap your hands. Snap your fingers. Tap your toes on the floor. Once you reset the click track, your body will follow.

For this article, I did not wear headphones, and I could hear my clackity keys over Lou Rawl’s “Cotton Fields” — from his “Black and Blue” album — thumping at me from computer speakers, pushing me to finish.