How to Know if Your Writing Environment is Failing You

And how to optimize it for success

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Virginia Woolf probably had it right when she wrote A Room of One’s Own. The mind is truly able to spin magic without the environment to do so. And in a modern world where screens are the backdrops and our surroundings are mostly open-plan offices, there’s no wonder we often struggle to find inspiration to spark our creativity.

It’s not that the digital way of life has killed our ability to imagine a world outside of office walls, but there’s definitely a profound lack of cherishing one’s atmosphere and using it as fuel to craft something truly inspirational. After all, how can we discover a masterpiece in waiting from beige walls, desks, and LEDs?

Struggling to Get Creative? Look Around You

If you’re really having trouble with ‘getting in the zone’ and tapping into your imaginative side, there’s a strong likelihood that you’re not positioning yourself up for success in an environment that fosters it.

As writers, our art is conjured up from our surroundings, beliefs, and values, and when we spend our days slumped behind a screen in the same room we woke up in, our art becomes uninspired chores.

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

The way to reinvigorate your motivation to create and write more than ever before (and really damn good stuff, too) resides in getting out there and taking advantage of inspiring environments.

I’m talking beautiful gardens, beachside shores, Victorian-era decorated cafes – whatever floats your boat. If you know what kind of landscape makes your imaginative side switch on like a kid in a candy shop, then it’s time to use it as much as possible.

Do Your Surroundings Move You?

As I write this, I’m sitting by a stunning lake in my local botanical gardens, greeted by dozens of adorable turtles, good coffee, and plenty of dogs. If I’m being honest, there was an initial struggle to haul myself out there (despite being five minutes up the road), but that’s only because of my hermit-like tendencies.

How can we discover a masterpiece in waiting from beige walls, desks and LEDs?

But once I’m out here sipping on my double shot almond milk latte and absorbing the scenery around me, my mindset instantly shifts. Suddenly, I’m compelled to write, rather than feeling like it’s just another task I need to tackle in my day. This is a surrounding that moves me. It makes my heart sing.

So what’s yours?

How to Set Up to Write in Any Environment

My mobile setup is my nifty iPad Air (absolutely in love), Apple Pencil, and tethering from my Samsung Galaxy S20+. These essentials are accompanied by my Galaxy Watch to track a walk post-writing. Oh, and a cup of fresh coffee from the cafe in the gardens.

All of this becomes my formula for success, and you’ll have one of your own – you just might need to discover what that exact equation is.

Consider what makes your productivity kick into overdrive. Do you:

  • Rather writing on paper with a pen, or typing it out?
  • Are you more inclined to use an app to annotate your work? I suggest the Otter app – a serious lifesaver.
  • Like absolute silence or white noise?
  • Crave the sunshine or the comfort of your own interiors?
  • Prefer to work around an abundance of people or solo?
  • Work better in sprints or marathons?

Putting Your Insights into Action

All of this will help you to identify the environment most suitable for your preferred working method.

For example, the hustle and bustle of a busy mall cafe might be more optimized for your productivity than the serene sounds of a waterfall (yes, I’m listening to one right now). Think carefully about this and don’t be afraid to test out a few different locations. There’ll always be one that hits the spot.

Once you’ve pinned down your hotspot, lock in a time in your daily schedule to get writing every single day (obviously in that location). Assess how productive you are and if it starts to falter, mix things up a bit and head somewhere else, or even just sit in a different spot. You’ll be surprised how your mind can shift when you refresh your surroundings.

I can promise you that by committing to make these changes in your workflow, you’ll see an unsurpassed rise in productivity and inspired writing.

If there’s a particular environment that inspires you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. No judgment for weird ones.

Writer + mentor. Content marketing expert. SEO fangirl. All-round creative.

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