Discover your best writing environment
What’s this episode about?
Welcome to the fourth episode of the second season of The Pen Garden podcast. Listen to it in full and/or scan the show notes below for the main takeaways.
When I was younger I thought the only thing I needed to be able to sit down and write was my imagination, my computer or a piece of paper, and some time. As the years passed and the need to sustain my impromptu writing sessions grew, I realized I also needed some drinks, some snacks, a comfortable seat, a place that didn’t stress me out and an actual plan of what to write because my patience as a discovery writer started running a bit thin.
I know I’m not the only one who searches for the perfect writing environment, the one that is just the right amount of loud for you to be inspiring and comfortable enough to keep wrist and back cramps at bay so health issues don’t distract from your ultimate goal of sitting down to write.
This episode explores what the perfect writing space and social environment look like for all the personality types. As with all the things we’ve covered so far, it will be different for everyone.
I will be using the terms set out by 16personalities.com – there is a table below where you can double-check your type if you forget its name or its letter combination, as well the group your personality type falls into. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, before you continue listening to this, go listen to episode 2 from Season 1, where I explain why your personality type is important and how to find yours.
MBTI personality types table
|Architect (INTJ)||Advocate (INFJ)||Logistician (ISTJ)||Virtuoso (ISTP)|
|Logician (INTP)||Mediator (INFP)||Defender (ISFJ)||Adventurer (ISFP)|
|Commander (ENTJ)||Protagonist (ENFJ)||Executive (ESTJ)||Entrepreneur (ESTP)|
|Debater (ENTP)||Campaigner (ENFP)||Consul (ESFJ)||Entertainer (ESFP)|
Writing environment matters
What we have around us as we sit down to do our writing practice is important. In fact it is so important, it can help us with our work or hinder it.
A study in classroom spaces for children between 5 and 11 years confirmed that physical space impacts on our learning and concentration processes. One of the measures of the spaces was called ‘Link-to-Nature’ which in the study was defined as ‘a measure of natural elements in the classroom (wooden furniture and plants), views of nature from the windows, and whether there is direct access to an outdoor learning zone from the classroom’.
For the writing tasks students had, Links-to-Nature was found to be significant – ‘views that included vegetation and objects in the far distance appeared to support better outcomes for student learning in general’.
And if you think this is just something that affects children, another study a few years earlier showed that adults performed better on creative tasks after spending an extended time in natural settings. So what I’m trying to say here is that the creative mind doesn’t work in a vacuum. And I’m not saying we should all ditch our home offices and our desks and roll in the grass while dictating our next writing project. Instead, I want to encourage you to think about where you do your best writing.
Where isn’t just about physical space, it is about what the whole environment can offer you. That also involves interactions with other writers and engaging in activities that supplement your writing, like eating and drinking. Different people will find different spaces appropriate for their writing practice.
To give you some starting points for your thinking, I’m going to look at each the personality types as defined on 16personalities.com. Hopefully some of these ideas will resonate with you and you can start improving where and how you engage in writing.
Me, Myself and I
If you are an Architect or a Mediator, you probably find your most productive writing sessions are when you’re alone, away from distractions. These two personality types share the Introverted and Intuitive traits, which means their creativity responds best when they can take some time in the company of their thoughts only.
The Executives and Virtuosos also fare best when left alone to write but for a different reason – as Sensing and Thinking personality types, they crave control over their environment and can create when they know they can be safely on top of things without interruption.
A friend is best
Then there are those of us who do our best writing when we share it with someone else – be it a writing friend, a coach or a mentor, or even an editor. Logicians and Advocates are both personality types which revel in being in their own head and creating without much influence. But when they’re done, they crave to share it with someone who is close and will appreciate their creative genius.
The other two types that benefit from having a familiar influence to support their writing environment are Logisticians and Defenders. Unlike the previous two, their creative process doesn’t always drive them to share out of excitement; instead they can get overwhelmed and overload their practice with unhelpful feelings of insecurity. They both need a strong personality to alter the course of their thinking and set them back on the path of productive creativity.
The more the merrier
Back to our topic of writing practice environments, we move away from the people who like peace and quiet and dive straight into the four personalities that are at their best when they’re surrounded by like-minded creatives. Writing groups, workshops, conferences, retreats – this is where they shine. They all share the Extroverted trait.
Commanders and Consuls find inspiration when they can write and inspire by example. They would be the leader of a write-in or a speaker at an event. Protagonists and Entertainers would also be great at that, although their motivations are slightly different. They like to be surrounded by people and are interested in perspectives different than theirs. They would thrive in environments which encourage diversity and discussion which gives them a chance to shine with their writing and communication skills.
Anywhere and everywhere
The last four personalities don’t really like settling down and having one particular space where they get their best writing done. They need flexibility to be their best selves and instead of change hindering their creative processes, it inspires them, leading to some of their greatest work in terms of productivity. Debaters and Campaigners, both Intuitive and Prospecting, get their creative urges not from planned research but when they find something interesting and new, no matter the environment around them. This pursuit of knowledge is fun and does wonders for their writing practice.
Adventurers and Entrepreneurs both thrive on opportunities for improvisation, sharing the Sensing and Prospecting traits. Being stuck in a rut can bring about writer’s block and unlike the other two personalities, they don’t seek out flexibility because it’s mentally invigorating, it’s because the other option brings their creative output and enthusiasm way down.
sO, TO SUMMARIZE…
All of these environments could be great for any personality. Maybe you don’t have access to some of those alternatives to sitting at a desk and writing, maybe your life experiences and your goals don’t align with those commonly associated with your personality type – and that’s fine. All this is just data, prevalence and a bit of fun. All these statements are based on personality type research shared on 16personalities.com so take what inspiration you can from it and if it doesn’t work, try something else.
In the next episode, the final in this season, I will talk about a favorite topic on this podcast – routines. I will look at them through the lens of personality research and will delve into which personalities thrive on routines and which struggle – and how to power up your practice so you can include a routine that complements you and doesn’t stress you out.
If you want to be up to date on Pen Garden news, subscribe to the show and sign up to my newsletter. I promise no spam, only cups of writing joy.
If you want to continue the conversation, you can poke me on The Pen Garden Facebook page or tweet me @laineydelaroque. Thanks very much for listening everyone. Hope you have an awesome week and speak to you soon.
- 16personalities.com (website)
- The Holistic Impact of Classroom Spaces on Learning in Specific Subjects (journal article)
- Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings (journal article)
Listen and subscribe
Listen to all Available episodes of season 2:
Or the episodes from season 1, beginnings: