A Moveable Feast: How the Environment Affects Your Writing
Does where you write affect the content, style, and tone of your writing? If you had your laptop open on a palm-fringed balcony overlooking the translucent waters of Antigua would you be (and this word is like the kiss of death, so let’s capitalize it) more INSPIRED? Would all the mental ice floes break up, leaving the currents of thought to flow freely? It’s not likely. You’d be more inclined to go snorkeling or take a sunset cruise than update your blog. All the writerly chit-chat about inspiration is as much about procrastination as it is about a loss of words. That being said, writing is subjective, so whether one type of environment is better than another is equally subjective. Maybe there’s inspiration in Antigua after all.
Writers tend to be creatures of habit. In fact, they can be downright ritualistic, preparing for their day at the keyboard just like superstitious baseball players approach the plate for an at bat. Three cups of coffee, never two, Bic pen and spiral notebook at the ready, a Dictionary at arm’s length, etc. There are writers who need absolute silence in order to get any work done, the low hum of the evening news being enough to scatter their concentration. However, there are others who can pound out 3,000 words while heavy metal crashes and burns on the stereo; moreover, some writers can cook a three course meal, feed the dog, and act as a human jungle gym to five, wild-eyed children and still crank out article after article.
Writers write in studies, cramped offices, basements and annexes. They write standing up and in Yoga poses. They write at the dining room table, on cluttered kitchen islands, in the laundry room, or by warming their hands with a space heater in the woodshed, the only quiet place around the house. They use old ottomans as makeshift chairs, while the living coffee table moonlights as a desk. They write in dark, subterranean mancaves; in cork-lined, soundproof attics like Marcel Proust; in clean, well-lighted places like Ernest Hemingway; in Rooms of their Own like Virginia Woolf. There are even some writing on palm-fringed balconies overlooking the translucent waters of Antigua. Hiring content writers can be a bit like those Where’s Waldo books; you never know where you’re going to find them.
However, unless you break up your routine every once in a while, you’ll never know how or if a change of scenery will impact your writing. If only for the sake of experiment, it’s worth a shot. While the thought of writing in a coffee house or cafe might having you breaking out in collegiate hives one day, two months later it might be the welcome change of scenery you need. For those of you who want pin drop silence, pack it up and head to the public library. Even if you don’t get any work done, at least you’ll have some books to read.
Damon H is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.