Where are the Best Places to Write?
If you ask 100 different writers where they prefer to write, you would get 100 different answers — or more.
Everyone’s preferences are different when it comes to creating the perfect environment in which to write and, of course, it’s a matter of personal choice.
Ernest Hemingway notoriously wrote standing up, bare feet, two feet on the ground, while Mark Twain, Truman Capote, and George Orwell were among those who preferred a more horizontal position.
Personal preferences and degrees of recline aside, most people share certain similarities in their writing environment that stay the same even if the writers themselves change from place to place.
Is It Time To Change Things Up?
If your creativity isn’t flowing as you want it to, if you’re struggling to write well in your personal writing space, then it might be time to reassess and make some changes.
There is no single environment that will always work perfectly for you. Be open to changing places when you are at different stages — and play around to keep it interesting and keep yourself motivated.
Your Perfect Writing Environment?
Have you ever found that you might sit down to write one day and everything is perfect, but when you come back to the exact same place the next day, everything is completely off?
It isn’t that you’re inconsistent — your brain actually needs different environments for different kinds of work. Let’s have a look at the three that are most commonly needed when you’re writing a book, or a creating a larger piece or work.
1. A Productive Environment
When your aim of the day is to produce results, i.e., when you want to get words on a page as efficiently as possible, then comfort should be the top priority when arranging your writing environment.
The One, Often-Neglected, Factor
As well as where to write, we often overlook factors like the temperature of the room.
Research shows that warmth has a strong correlation with positivity; it makes you more generous — which could improve the quality of your writing. You’re also less likely to make mistakes in a warmer environment compared to a cold one.
Although we might assume that we’ll finish more quickly in the cold (because we want to finish and move around!), turning the dial up on the heating could make it more likely you’ll stick at it until you’re finished.
How to Make it Easy on Yourself
It also pays to have everything that you need within easy reach. This could be organising any information or tools that you need, before you sit down to write, saving you from the inevitable 10-minute break to go find that piece of paper with your notes and get settled in again.
The same goes for your body’s needs. Fill up a jug of water or a pot of tea before you start, or during your morning break, and take it to your desk to save frequent trips to the kitchen. Keep some healthy ‘writing snacks’ on hand to keep your energy high and fuel your brain for the writing session.
The best place to work productively is…
The combined ease of being able to adjust the temperature, as well as having everything you need for your work and your comfort already around you, means the smartest place to write when you’re on a deadline is in your own home.
Just remember to keep your home-working environment separate from your leisure environment (translation: don’t write in bed!), or all this comfort might be counter-productive to your word-count.
2. An Analytical Environment
When you’re really stretching your brain, it requires a different kind of environment than one that simply caters to your comforts.
An analytical environment is what you need when you’re focusing on editing, doing challenging research, analysing data, or working on your marketing. And, the number one rule of an analytical environment is no distractions.
Let me repeat that: no distractions.
How to Remove Those Dreaded Distractions
You have to be strict with yourself to succeed at removing distractions. And it takes getting serious about unplugging your devices. Take your phone off the desk, turn off any iPads, kindles or music players, and don’t give in to the temptation to open (yet) another web page.
Multitasking is the devil’s work
Multitasking is a massive time-waster and it reduces the quality of your work.
Stay off Facebook and put a stop to your web surfing by downloading an online app such Freedom, or one of the other apps that stop distractions. They work by blocking certain websites for a set period of time (as long as you keep your phone off the desk!).
Alternatively, go old-school and turn off your WiFi, or find somewhere without WiFi or phone signal (not so easy these days but those places do exist).
Noise versus No Noise?
According to Gregory Ciotti, when your brain is doing activities that involve taking in information, processing it, and analysing it, then music and small noise distractions must be avoided completely.
Keep outside noise to a minimum. This is not the time for music or the background distraction of a café.
The best place for analytical work is…
Find a quiet library, make sure you bring everything you need and nothing more, and stay for just as long as you need to get that piece of work done.
3. A Creative Environment
Planning your outline, creating plot lines for chapters, case studies and stories, brainstorming ideas, and working on your writing flair is creative work, and creative work needs its own specific space.
Bring Your Own ‘Highs’
Inspiring your creativity requires two things: dopamine and stimuli.
A big hit of dopamine makes us feel motivated and attentive — two things you need to start and to stick at your creativity. And what’s an easy way to get this hit? Heading somewhere new.
When we change our environment, we get a rush of dopamine, even if it’s just a little change like moving your desk so it faces the window, not the wall — why do you think it’s such a joy to reorganize your room even if you end up, later, moving it back the way it was?
Turn Up the Volume
There are other ways to turn up the volume on your creative environment — and those include adding some noise.
A certain level of ambient noise is good for your creativity because you force your brain to navigate the distractions, and this acts like a kind of sub-conscious brain-training — helping you get better at making the abstract connections needed for creativity.
Music without lyrics, or the hustle and bustle of ambient, white noise is the best way to reach this creative peak. Keep in mind that familiar lyrics, or sitting just a little too close to the young family will reverse this effect, bringing too much distraction and not enough simulation.
Your best creative environment is…
A café. Or a co-working space.
The whir of the coffee machine, distant clatter of the kitchen and snatches of conversation from nearby tables creates the perfect level of white noise for you to get creative.
Just remember to keep those cafés with 70’s surf-rock soundtracks for when you’re brunching with friends and it’s OK to sing along with the tunes (if it’s ever OK!).
The Best Place to Write is…
Writing presents us with the strange contradiction of creating a completely social outcome from an act of intense solitude.
To write for people, to create work that resonates, you need to get personal, and you need to see and be in the world. Including the place you’re doing the writing.
What that personal place is for you will likely change depending on what you’re writing and how you feel.
If your current writing environment isn’t doing it for you, then work out which one of these three kinds of writing you’re doing, what your brain needs, and then make a change in your environment to give it its best shot.
A small shift in environment could create a big shift in your results.
Where do you like to write? Do you have one place, or do you mix it up a bit depending on what you need to do? I’d love you to share with me on Facebook.