Storytime – Otherplace Ambience

When people ask me what I do to relax to sleep or get in the mood for writing, they’re often shocked when they hear my response. Most likely because they don’t hear me say I need to lock myself in a corner of a room with a blanket, or whatever a typical introvert would say.

Apparently going out into public to write is such a big shocker.

First, yes. I confess that the place I list to go visit is Starbucks, or a Panera. But “local” coffee shops are not welcoming here; a bit too rural or run-down for my tastes. They don’t feel like an oasis in the bustling of civilization. Rather, it’s just a pushpin in the middle of nowhere. Hence my hesitation to go to such places.

The voyage to get there gives me a mental break as well. It helps separate my work-at-home or regular home life. I get to see different things during my car trip. It helps me feel excited and anticipated that I’m getting to do something different.

But why?

Because where I usually am is depressing, too quiet and has no semblance of life going on.

Sure, Starbucks may be swarming now and then, but it’s a public place in an urban area. New people to observe. Ambient noise of coffee machines, air conditioning, and people chattering. When I look out the window, I see cars, other stores, life. I am calm in such a setting, and I actually progress when working on something. And while I do play house-style music by people like Schmoov and Miguel Migs, the setting isn’t wasted.

It’s a shame it doesn’t last forever. It’s also a shame I have to make a one-way, 50-70 mile trip to those locations, and that 1/3rd of that travel distance is on slow, winding country roads.

The same thing goes for when it’s not practical to go out, and I try to set a mood at home. My PC works great for this because of multiple media players; I pull up some ambient city noise, queue some deep house lounge music and get to work. If I had the brick wall and the old-style hanging light from a Brooklyn basement, I probably would have the complete mood I need. Now if there was only a good Chinese restaurant within walking distance from the house.

I even have an ambient track of just freeway noise, and often fall asleep to this many nights. Just to fill the noise with something other that coyote howling, cows mooing and just dead silence. I do think that particular set of noise does have an effect on how I dream, which may warrant further investigation. Hmm…

But my odd methods to be creative when writing boils down to one thing; I can only take so much silence from echoing my own thoughts, and need something new to change that up to progress.

Give it a shot sometime. You’d be surprised how it feels.

Leave a Reply