Environment Matters


As creatures of habit, we all develop certain preferences of where we like to hang out, what kind of knick-knacks we want decorating our rooms, and what kind of music filters through our ears.

Which leads me to the conclusion that environment matters.

For example, I have certain locations designated as “writing spaces.” Whether it be a particular table at my local bookstore or my favorite chair at home. I have to position the objects on my desk just right. Coffee is a MUST. Music is key. Soundtracks, alternative rock, gothic rock–what I choose depends on my mood.

If I don’t have these things, it is more difficult to settle down and get to the task at hand.

So, what is it about keeping the environment to taste that’s so important?

Familiarity is comforting. Especially if there are “good feelings” associated. I write at a bookstore. Writing makes me happy. Therefore, going to the bookstore makes me excited to get writing. (Yup, I’m that simple.)

There’s also the idea of state-dependent learning. If I’m used to “bookstore” writing, I may just remember certain scenes I wrote there better than the ones I wrote at home (or elsewhere).

Plus, I know that “bookstore” writing is time dedicated solely to writing. I don’t have to worry about chores, laundry, studying, being distracted by TLC or Discovery, or kitty. (Sorry, Grace.)

So, friends, what “habits” have you developed surrounding your writing behaviors? Do they help? Do they hinder? What stimulus (seeing a notebook, smelling coffee, hearing a song) reminds you most of writing, or even a particular scene?

Let me just say there are two Alice in Chains songs that remind me so much of a scene in Picture of Fate, a previous WIP, that my heart aches. Just sayin’.

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8 comments on “Environment Matters

  1. Lydia Kang says:

    Environment is really necessary for me too. I have to get in the “mood”. And sometimes I’ll listen to the same song twenty times in a row because it works for a certain scene. Drives hubbie crazy!

  2. Jamie Grey says:

    I’ve convinced myself that I write best in the morning, though it’s the most inconvienient time possible. And I need silence. Unfortunately, I’ve had to learn to work around these things – some days are easier than others!

  3. Lynn Rush says:

    Jamie–I love morning writing (early) or really late night. Just something about that quiet time of day, huh?

    What stimulus reminds me most of writing? Gosh, pretty much anything. I was watching a soccer game at the local soccer fields with my friend (her kid was playing)–and I heard someone yell out a name. I was like, “SWEET, I’m so gonna use that name for my next character.”

    I’m triggered to write any time any place. LOL. 🙂

  4. Hi Laura!!

    Wow, great post! I know what environment I CANT write in and that’s with my kids about. I feel that I need to be available to them at a drop of a hat. I can write just about anywhere…the library, my bedroom, outside, livingroom, my sister’s house. I’ve never tried a bookstore (our local bookstore doesn’t have a place for people to hang out at.) 😦

    What stimulates my writing? Uh… it can be anything. From a piece of music I hear on the radio to a weird-looking tree to my thoughts. LOL

    I know, I’m weird like that! 😉

  5. Lindsay says:

    I can write ideas anywhere, but when I sit down to write properly I have to write in my bedroom, sat on my bed. It’s a weird thing, maybe because it’s how I started to write, but I think it’s part of my ritual now. That and music playing while I write. 🙂

  6. Oh, I loved this post 😀 I have some totems that I need around me, which mainly consist of an endless cuppa joe (I go through about a pot a morning); my dark, ABsolutely quiet house; and at least one ring on one of my index fingers 😀 I definitely CANNOT write anywhere else, except for maybe a coffee house and ONLY if I already know what I’m working on. Great question, Laura!!

  7. cole gibsen says:

    I’m with ya! I like to write in coffee shops or at my library, otherwise my house and animals will distract me!

  8. Shannon says:

    For each project, I make a playlist of 4 – 10 songs, then let them play on a loop while I plan the project. By the time I start writing, the songs lend mood without distracting me at all. At home I wear those big headphones that cover your ears. Sometimes, just putting them on focuses my brain on writing.

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