Anil Dash asked folks to tell him about their work environments, about what the environment is like where they feel most creative. In a moment of procrastination, I responded and I thought I’d share. If you’re so inclined, I’d love to know what is on the other side of your computer. I do love to hear how people’s lives are organized.
Two weeks before I hunkered down to write my last mega treatise, all of my CDs were stolen from my car. I whimpered on a mailing list and this super kind guy burned off 200 of the ones I lost and sent them to me. That week, I also bought the new Son Kite album. I took the 201 CDs with me to the cottage where I hibernated. One small problem… the CD player in the house in the middle of the woods did not play burned CDs. So, for 10 days, I listened to one CD on repeat: Son Kite’s “Perspectives Of.”
Ever since then, whenever I hunker down to write something longer than a blog post, including all of my articles and most of my essays, I mostly ignore the other 10,000 songs in my iTunes and play Son Kite. On repeat. Every once in a while, I expand out a little bit.. some Dr. Toast here, bluetech there, a little Antix, Ticon and Vibrasphere. But it mostly comes back to Son Kite.
To separate serious writing from anything else (since I never leave my house), I switch to more organic sounds. Blog posts get a little jazz, a little downtempo. When I am emotional and need to just run around the house screaming as a coping mechanism for writing, I turn on Ani DiFranco. Anyone who has followed my Last.FM lately probably realizes that there’s been a lot of screaming.
As for environment, my living room (a.k.a. office) has been the same for years. Two fuzzy green couches with 5 separate sitting options. Legs up on fuzzy stool. Surrounded by 1200 books, organized obsessively by topics and catalogued in a database for easy locating… a dozen or so sitting on the couch beside me. Lots of plants, all organic colors, no TV or monitor of any kind. A big calming buddha statue that weighs over 200 pounds and a variety of paintings from friends and travels. Huge windows with lots of light streaming in and birds chirping outside. Candles for nighttime. Twelve different lights that can be combined in different ways in relation to my mood. No fluorescents, all incancesdents.. I love the environment, but lighting really affects my productivity. Most importantly, my cat Marbellio sits on my left side or above my head on the windowsill all day while I work.
I’ve transported this setup to four different apartments since 2002. I can’t work in offices or anywhere where the lighting is headache producing. I can’t work at desks. I’m not so good at working without books surrounding me or my cat purring next to me. Environment really really matters when it comes t me producing anything of value.