On the show Sunday Morning this week, they discussed various atmospheres in psychiatrist’s offices. The piece proposed the philosophy behind everything from the color scheme to the artwork hanging on the wall. It suggested that the patients were subconsciously influenced by the room. A room that was white or grey was more welcoming and calming than one with bright colors on the walls. One psychiatrist had a series of pictures depicting the dropping of an atom bomb. While some would be disturbed by the picture, he suggested that others would be comforted with a bit of chaos.
The segment made me think about my writing environments. I always write on a laptop, which provides the blessing of mobility. When I feel stuck, I often will change locations seeking new inspiration. It never really occurred to me that the decoration or the “feel” of each place might in fact be the cause of that inspiration. Yet, as I thought of the article, I came up with three commonalities between my favorite writing places.
The first is that the place cannot have too many distractions. I have always loved the idea of writing in a coffee shop. However, in reality this is not the best location. There are too many noises and distractions. If I’m writing where others can see me, I tend to get self-conscious, which is the biggest distraction of all. This summer, I tried writing in a library. This again seemed like the perfect option. What could be better than a room full of books? After all, I love the smell of books in libraries. I found myself needing to adapt the environment before it worked. I needed to cut out even the distraction a public library housed.
The only way it worked is by my second commonality: the need of music. The only time I write in silence is when I’m doing this blog or when I am writing in the early morning. However, if I want to write for longer than a half hour, I need music playing in the background. I’m not sure what it is about music. In theory, it should be a distraction. But, as I’m writing, I zone out the words and listen to the melody. It helps me tap into the tone of my scenes. But, it is also a controlled distraction, cutting out the clutter of everyday and replacing it with something I want.
Lastly, my writing space needs to have access to the internet. As I’m writing, I often need to look something up. That could be as simple as the definition to a word, a picture to help me describe a location, or a quick reference check. Without the internet, I find issues arise that I cannot address. This always stops my creative wheels.
I would imagine the writing environments change depending on the person. However, I now start to wonder if we all need similar subconscious stimulus to help the creative juices flow. I would definitely watch a news piece about that topic.