My copywriting feed (feel free to subscribe) carries a piece from Thomas Beller on the joy of earplugs. He loves the removed feeling of walking down a street and sort of being able to hear things, and sort of not. I liken it to the feeling of detachment I sensed when walking down the street listening to my iPod for the first time.
I’m deaf in one ear and whereas it doesn’t generally bother me I do have problems in noisy environments such as pubs. There is a benefit though in that, when I want silence for example when trying to sleep, I can simulate the earplug effect simply by lying on my good ear. This has also been known to work in pubs.
A busy PR agency isn’t the best place to be a writer. There are all sorts of distractions, from the necessary conversations/meetings/debates taking place around you to the TV and radio in the corner (which apparently is necessary although the news content of Magic FM is debateable). Some people turn on, tune in and drop out with headphones, but for me that replaces one distraction with another. It’s also the best way to cut oneself off from one’s colleagues to the extent that you often find yourself having to go over and wave in their faces to get their attention. Not good.
So you have to adapt. When the place is buzzing and people are moving around you just have to focus. When you need to turn around a press release within the hour you just have to switch everything off and concentrate. Meanwhile you must be available and ‘present’ if people need you. It’s a skill, like rubbing your stomach while patting your head.