To what extent do you use ambient noise (or the lack thereof) to prompt the muse?
Do certain stories call for silence, or the buzz of people in the background, or a
specific type of music to help the process? -- Erik Burnham
Kevin Williams, and the second was John Morgan Neal.
To respond to all of you, here goes...
I love to work to brown noise more than almost any other noise. It's like silence turned up to 11 (thank you, Nigel) for me. True silence is too distracting for me. I use the Simply Noise website for this. You can listen online or download the noise (white, brown, or pink) of your choice, and they offer some sound effect-enhanced selections as well, but those birds squawking on the beach are annoying to me when I'm trying to write.
Sometimes I will use ambient music, and I've found several really nice ambient, chill and Reiki music stations on iTunes that I enjoy and that are easy to write to.
Ocassionally, and this is rare, I will create a "soundtrack" for a given book or character. For example, for 1930s pulp, I listen to the speakeasy tunes of that time period, or for Turra: Gun Angel for Maw Productions, I created a soundtrack that was equal parts cheesy 80s love songs and industrial metal (because that's who Turra is, soft emotional idealist and hard-edged butt-kicker all at the same time).
When I create these soundtracks, they're not so much (at least for me) something to listen to when I'm actually WRITING, but something to listen while I'm out and about, driving through town, running errands and THINKING about the story. It helps me develop mindset and come up with ideas and plots and events and nuance. It would be too distracting for me to actually try to focus on writing if I was listening to it. My ADD and OCD prevents me from having that luxury.