So you’ve been tasked with some form of writing assignment. You’ve done your research and preparation and now it’s time to sit down and write. So where do you write? A lot of people ignore the importance of having a good writing environment to help you stay relaxed and focused during the grueling writing process. On the other hand, some people feel a good writing environment has to be an already established learning setting, e.g. a library or study hall. I’m here to inform you that having a good writing environment is important and can be created by you to cater to all your comfort and learning needs. When creating a good learning environment you should consider:
Location: What place works best for you? Some people may enjoy writing outside, where the sounds of nature can calm them and allow for maximum focus, while some like to be in coffee shops where the white noise of chit chat and coffee beans grinding helps them stay sane. It all depends on the type of person you are. I personally like to be locked away in my dorm room listening to classical music when I write. Tip: Try to find a place that isn’t cluttered and has good lighting.
Time of Day: Are you a morning person or are do you struggle getting out of bed at anytime before noon like me? You should chose to write during a time of day when you have the most energy and are the most productive. Whether that is at 8am with a cup of Folgers’ or at 11pm with a hot pub meal, find what works best for you.
Company: Who can be around you that won’t distract you from your task? Having your best friend around who will talk to you for hours about last night’s game and Scandal is probably not the best person to have around while you are working. However, if your same best friend has an assignment due too, having them working around you may motivate you. Other people may find that being completely alone works best which is also completely fine.
Comfort: Have a favorite snack or a lucky sweater? Have them around when you start writing. Comfort is the most essential element of a good writing environment. Bundle up in your room, go outside in your PJ’s, do whatever it takes to be comfortable when you are writing. I always make sure that I have snacks and water at hand whenever I start to write.
So now that you have your own perfect writing environment it’s time to write. It’s time to put your nose to the grindstone and craft the best piece of writing you have ever done. Wear your snuggie with pride and get to work!
–Duane, peer tutor
Maybe you write best in absolute silence. Maybe you need the soft buzz of life going on around you. You might find that the best sentences pour from you once you turn on some Frank Sinatra or One Direction. Perhaps all you really need to be inspired is the scent of the fresh air rushing through the grass.
The importance of place when one sets out to write is paramount. Ernest Hemingway needed to write standing up. Rumor has it that Ben Franklin wrote from the bathtub. Jane Austen preferred to write amidst the daily routine of her family. E. B. White sought the comfort of a cabin by the shore. And I find that my best work comes when I lay on my stomach on the floor.
Every writer, and yes, you are a writer, has his or her own quirks when it comes to finding a place that works with writing energy. As a junior now at McDaniel, I’ve been able to try out a few places around campus and have found some of the best writing places for those with different writing atmospheric needs. My hope is that this brief list will help both the new students coming into a new environment at McDaniel and those still searching for their sweet spot around campus.
image from mcdaniel.edu
• Clever, Shannon, the library is an obvious place to mention first. But seriously, I bet you might be able to find a place in the library that works for you. Hoover Library has undergone some serious renovation and refurnishing that has made all types of spaces available for students. Whether you need the silent floor, the group study tables, an individual desk, or one of the comfy chairs on the side rooms on the second floor in the front, you’ll find a nice place amongst the shelves. I recommend that you take a walk through the library and explore every nook and cranny like I did, and now I know my perfect library spot—which is mine and mine only…
Casey’s Corner is a wonderful place for those who need a soft buzz in the background while they write. The colors are cozy, the seating options vary, and the place always smells like delicious, warm coffee (if you like that sort of scent, like I do). Casey’s Corner also offers a convenient and tasty writing break opportunity so that you can reenergize and refocus with a coffee or big cookie stimulation if you work best with a yummy bite.
image from mcdaniel2016.tumblr.com
Hill, Lewis, Merritt Classrooms
Even though the late night classroom use policy has changed, you can still find a classroom to work in for a couple hours before the buildings close for the night. Sometimes I like to work in the classrooms on the second floor of Hill (because I love the English dept. to pieces :] ) which provide enough space to spread out and write while on the floor, or you can use the big desk if you’d like. The classrooms are conducive to writing because they don’t have too many distractions which means you’re usually left alone and can focus much better.
You might think this is an odd choice, but sometimes when I really just need to get away from it all, I like to take a little walk over to Little Baker, laptop in tow, and sit down for a couple of hours to write. I have found that Little Baker has a very peaceful and beautiful atmosphere that might be helpful for those of you that stress out while writing. Take a breather, look at the beauty of the stained glass, and return to that paper with a calmer demeanor.
Harvey Stone Park
Depending on the weather, Harvey Stone is a great place to write for those of you who need to be outdoors. Harvey Stone is the pavilion located behind the baseball field, down the little gravel hillside pathway, and bumped up against the golf course. You might find the quiet you are looking for here with a little bit of nature cheering you on as you type.
image from panoramio.com
I know a lot of athletes who like to write in the lobby of Gill where they can have the background stimulation of the tv’s, passersby, and the all encompassing aroma of Vocelli’s. A lot of athletes feel comfortable working and writing here because they spend so much time there for their extracurricular athletic activities and training. This might be your spot if you need some movement around you or would like to feel comfortable in a spot that feels just like your second home.
Create Your Own Unique Spot
So this is my clever way of wrapping up my modest list. But this one might be the most important. Maybe your dorm room or common room is the best place. I’ve never been to your room, but maybe you have a poster of Brittany Spears or Ganesh from which you find the source of your most brilliant of thoughts. Or maybe you’re like me and you find some spot that only works for you—for example, I go down to the pool. As a swimmer, I’ve found that writing at the pool is like coming home, and that is perfect for me to generate some stellar paragraphs.
I hope this list has at least sparked some thought about where you need to be to write at your best. Sometimes it is surprising just how much of an effect your surroundings have on your work, and those surroundings might need to change depending on even your mood or the type of writing you need to do. You might find that you can do your English papers in the comfort of your room, but gosh darn you just need to go to a classroom to do your Chemistry lab report. Do a little writer-soul-searching and take a walk around campus, try out some new spots. You never know where you might end up and what you can do when you find that perfect place of your writing dreams.
– Shannon, peer tutor