How the Environment Influences an Introvert’s Creativity

As a child I had the blessing to have a room of my own and an understanding mom who by most part, left me alone to draw, daydream or nap. Often she would engage in cooking delicious meals and baking, leaving the house filled with the sounds of her activities. Once I withdrew into my room with the door closed, the silence was heavenly. It remained this way until adulthood. And then I got married, and moved in with his family.

I would not say that both homes are exact opposites of each other – very different perhaps. For one thing the television seems perpetually on and at a rather high decibel (at least to an introvert’s ears) and so are their talking voices. The home is smaller than my childhood’s and so even with the door closed I can hear the tv and conversations taking place outside within close proximity. And of course, the hubby who likes to blast open the room door every so often to “flit-about” and then go out again.

I must admit, I would like very much to blame my lack of writing output to my surroundings. The effect had been insidious and so gradual that as my mind went blank, so did my desires, urges, promptings and habit to journal. I wondered why and attributed it to perhaps change in interests. But today I got a full day back in my parents’ home and finally was able to get this out. So here’s a list of how-to-kill-an-introvert’s-creativity-fast (or the opposite of which is how the environment nurtures an introvert’s creativity); from personal experience of course:

Noise and Interruptions- 

This is the number one anathema for introverts trying to churn out creative works. Although some might enjoy working from a public cafe amidst some white noise, I am talking about the noise that grates your senses and makes your back prickle. It includes the obvious ones such as drilling, dogs barking, mahjong, and noisy next door neighbours. They are also frequently the ones that are out of our control. I would also like to highlight the less obvious yet devious ones such as poor sound proofing. You hear them at low levels – the sound of the television playing outside the room and the conversations, the sound of footsteps from the upstairs neighbour, some complaining going on outside that is maybe related to you. Or if you are sharing the living premises with roommates, then perhaps they might do their chores outside your room door.

On the surface it does seem very little – something you can choose to ignore since it doesn’t seem to disrupt much. The thing is, introverts have too much going on in their heads to accept any kind of noise and interruptions. As soon as they are conscious of something else outside of their head (ie. a human presence, negative energy), the flow of thoughts stop. Period. Yet, your body might have been maintaining a kind of peaceful energy prior that keeps you from realising the extent of the interruption. But when you try to pick up your thoughts it somehow feels disjointed. Some of my long posts have been created in one sitting, and once in a while when I happen to read them, the insights seemed like it came from another frame of mind.

Bright Light – 

It falls together with noise under the category of stimulation. I suggest a dim room with a lit candle. Draw the curtains in the daytime and switch off the ceiling lights at night. I find candle light gives off a comfortable amount of light that doesn’t vie with my computer monitor and calms the space. A dark room reduces the amount of distraction, especially if your room isn’t at all spanking neat. You might want to choose a study table light too; a light to shine focus on your task at hand.

Breaking Time into Short Periods – 

Ideally the best would be long periods of solitude. I am frequently transversing between two homes, and in between there are chores. The anxiety of breaking away from writing in order to meet a specific time can really cut creativity. It takes a disciplined mind and well-scheduled habits over time to avoid having this drag you down. And I am far from it.

Waking Up to an Alarm Clock – 

I guess this is a luxury that most people don’t have. If the body were allowed to wake up naturally from sleep, it has a higher chance of dream recall. Dreams make good fodder for journalling – and ideas.

Sitting Anywhere to Write – 

When you think of a freelance writer, you’d probably imagine this idyllic scene – the writer gets a burst of inspiration, and reaches out for her notebook that is always close by. She opens her Macbook and sits down by the steps of an art museum and starts typing away.

In reality I think this only works for short bursts of writing, and then what probably follows in a couple of hours is an achy back. In this case, think ergonomics, like a comfortable office chair. Don’t let the feeling of soreness distract you. Believe me, soon the feeling can override whatever ideas you have in your head.

I have placed a stronger emphasis on the home environment since all my writing is done there. The suggestions are mainly for introverts like me who are highly influenced by external stimuli. Some might also say that where there’s a will, there’s a way. But why make the elusive writing process harder for yourself? Perhaps making a few changes will help getting into the flow again. I hope for those whose brain suddenly went dry and are clueless right would find it helpful.

May your writing flow always.

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