Famous writers often surrounded themselves with quiet if they had the financial means to do so. Usually this meant buying a house in natural surroundings and setting up a study in which to work. Emily Dickinson’s reclusiveness makes more sense once you visit her pleasant sun-filled house in the woods in Amherst, Mass. Her bedroom, where she wrote every morning, radiates a serenity that seems to
call for verse, even to this day.
Playwright Eugene O’Neill needed absolute silence to write. When he built a house on his 158-acre ranch in California, he made sure that three empty rooms cushioned his study. And boy, did it work. The silence in O’Neill’s study is, well, deafening. Standing there, I couldn’t help reflecting on my own half-distracted writing habits, with emails and Internet only a click away. How much more would we get done if we surrounded ourselves with silence? What kind of thinking would come if we banned all interruptions?