On the importance of environment – an artist’s perception


By the time you’ll be reading this, my autumn break will be over and school will be right back on track for the last few weeks before the end of the semester. Life will resume after a short, needed break. Frankly, I have mixed feelings about going back to school. For one, I enjoy more than anything being in my pjs for most of the day, reading the books I want and watching a movie or two. Yet, I love the routine of university life. Following a schedule doesn’t scare me and it actually makes me feel safer. Sometimes, too much time on your hands leads you to do none of the things you planned on doing. I also realized something very important since starting university. I knew about this before, but I’ve really experienced it in the past few weeks. It’s great to be in your pjs at home, but being in a creative environment – university in my case- gets you more creative. When I am alone in my house, it’s ten times easier to be distracted. There is always a book to read, always a show to watch, always Instagram to scroll down for hours. It would be easy to tell myself I’m still being in contact with art because I am witnessing someone’s art, but I am not creating. For me, the environment is crucial.

When you find friends that have similar goals, appreciate every part of you and encourage you to work hard and to thrive, you feel like creating.

When you spend every day with authors or even aspiring authors, that teach you about the action of writing, you end up wanting to create.

There is a special shift that happens in your brain after a few weeks of studying and talking about art 24/7: you start seeing the world as a potential work of art. I can’t remember the number of times in the past weeks that I’ve looked at someone and said: “wow, I could make you into a book character right about now.” Or witnessed a scene and thought: “this would fit so well in a movie.”

My creative writing teacher said something that touched me deeply and stayed with me. It was along the lines of “a writer never stops writing.” You are always thinking about your next story, and sometimes you are physically writing, but it’s much more than that. You spend your life being aware of everything, every tiny detail could be a potential detail for a story. The way your mother laughs when she’s a bit tipsy, the way this cute man runs his fingers through his hair, the way your best friend cries when she’s angry. Every little thing, every detail no one notices or cares about, you do. Your brain learns to be a hard drive. Copy + paste + save. Your brain develops a way to store information that you could reuse anytime. This brain function can’t be turned off, but it can wear off. It is like a muscle, if you don’t use it, it’ll weaken.

I wondered about the perfect environment. It’s very hard to define since it’s subjective to every single one of us. It depends on our personalities, on our backgrounds, on our creative processes. Some people take more time to create, some people write fast on a napkin as if struck by the lightning of creativity.
Some people can create anywhere, anytime, some need a bit more privacy.
Some people enjoy creating in groups, others never share their art.
Some people like to be understood, some people like to keep a certain amount of mystery.

But i think a common characteristic everyone can agree on is that inspiration comes from witnessing. It comes from your surroundings and how it makes you feel, how it all comes into place. It needs movement.

For me, the perfect environment is other creative minds. It’s discussing the actual process of writing, learning about the history of literature, it’s reading other people’s work in workshops. I have to be amongst my people, like-minded people, to get this creative rush. Or else, it will only awaken a few times a month, and go back to sleep soon after. Yet, when the environment is right, my creative bear (i don’t know why but I do like this hibernation metaphor so I’m going with it) never sleeps. It’s always ready to take in information, to process it and create. Copy + paste + save. 

Some environment sucks the art out of you and leaves you dry. It’s up to you to find the places, the hobbies, the people that bring the art into you and makes you want to process it to let it out again.

Photo by Pixabay

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