I’m currently at one of my favorite spots in Madison. A student center with a fireplace. It’s quiet, cozy, and free coffee. I go here whenever I need something new. And in going some place new I find I have new ideas.
For a bit about myself, I’m a reclining writer. I don’t sit in a chair or at a desk. It’s in bed. It’s me reclined on pillows with my laptop on my lap. It’s wonderful and comfortable. But sometimes I need something new.
I need a vigorous place.
As cozy as my student center is, I’m sit upright and am surrounded by hard surfaces. The change is not simply location, not simply going from A to B and B has different artwork like trailing through various cafes in the area. I mean change in terms of changing how I sit. And it’s this difference that I think makes all the difference. I’m still comfortable, I’m not a masochist, but I have to position myself differently. That change makes me feel more alert and more confident in some ways than just reclining in the softness of my mattress.
And that’s why I come here, it makes me feel different.
It’s no different than putting on different music in the background, one from happy and upbeat to sad and forlorn. It’s the same principle. But it’s all the better. For someone who writes in silence, not having music to lean on for a change in attitude is something I lack. So I change position. I move to harder chairs and stone to prop my feet on… and a fireplace to dry next to.
But I think it raises a question more than just simply getting a grip on finding fresh ideas. I think it raises the question of how does your environment influence you? I find that being in a relaxed position enables me to write long winding passages while sitting upright forces me to be more brutal in writing. If I’m in a library, and I can manage to write, it makes me plow through material like nothing else. Just the clack of the keys to annoy neighbors as I tear through page after page.
Environment seeps into us. Whether it’s pillows under our back or hard wooden surfaces, it plays a role in what is written and how it is written. It’s as important, if not more important, than what music is playing in the background. It is the world we create in. Writing in silence exposes us to this and we can feel the constraints imposed by the world around us that we might cover up with music. But they’re always there.