How Does Your Environment Affect Your Writing?

on February 14, 2013 in Book Writing

This morning I woke up to a beautiful sight. I live in a wooded community, and we had snow last night. This morning the snow was still sticking to the trees. That's rare. It gets windy up here, so snow usually blows off the trees right away.

The view made me think about how this environment sometimes impacts my writing.

snow in trees

The view this morning outside my office window was gorgeous. And mornings like this put me in a relaxed state where I tend to get a lot of writing done. It's quiet. It's peaceful. It's beautiful. You can't go wrong.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the circumstances), that isn't always the case. The woods aren't always so lovely. Sometimes they're downright scary, especially during storms when these monstrous trees sway so hard they look like toothpicks on the verge of snapping. We've had huge branches come crashing down. We've heard the wind howling through the trees some like some demonic creature was on the loose.

We also live at the end of our road on a cul-de-sac. That means there's only one way out. Neighbors are close enough to see, but not close enough to hear you scream unless they're hanging around outside. And we've been dealing with a seemingly crazy neighbor for over a year who almost randomly decides to terrorize us and other neighbors with extreme noise levels and gun-related harassment. As beautiful as it is, it can feel like a pretty scary place to live sometimes.


Normally that's unfortunate. It's not what we expected when we moved here. I was just looking forward to a quiet place to write and a place where we could be left alone.

But sometimes it's the fearful elements that make it easier to write. That's especially true when I'm working on my mystery novel or any work in the horror genre (like the short story series I'm working on now). My environment makes it possible for me to physically experience the same kinds of fear I sometimes write about. And while it's not a pleasant feeling at the time, I feel like it gives my writing more authenticity.

In my case my environment affects my writing in different ways depending on how it makes me feel on any given day. This morning that means I have a quiet writing haven and I'll have a productive day editing a children's book manuscript and blogging. Later, as the sun goes down and the neighbors likely come around, that comfort will be gone. And I'll use that time to finish the first draft of one of my horror short stories and a new chapter or two in the mystery novel.

How does your writing environment affect your work?

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.

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  1. John Soares February 20, 2013 Reply

    Jenn, I’ve been fortunate to live in rural or semi-rural areas for much of my life, and I think the beauty and quiet have definitely helped my writing.

    I did have one situation where I had some sketchy neighbors, but nothing bad happened.

    • Jennifer Mattern February 20, 2013 Reply

      Glad to hear that John. It’s been a bit complicated with the neighbors around here, but thankfully it’s also been a bit better over the last couple of months. And our township is finally trying to do something about the situation (after complaints from quite a few neighbors). So with any luck I’ll get more peace soon. If it weren’t for that issue, this would be an incredibly beautiful and peaceful place to live and write.

  2. Anne Wayman February 22, 2013 Reply

    Although I’m in the city, I’m on one of San Diego’s canyons and get to see trees, birds, and even hawks… I know, they’re birds, but special ones.

    Not scary here, unless the wind’s blowing hard enough to make me worry about those trees – doesn’t happen often.

    • Jennifer Mattern February 22, 2013 Reply

      They definitely are special Anne. I love watching them. Those and the woodpeckers are some of my favorites here. :)

      The wind can be frightening here too. When Sandy came through I had to get something off the back deck. The moment I stepped outside I was terrified and had to stay against the building. It was dizzying. The wind pushed me around and the trees are very tall here. They were swaying so hard it almost looked like they were circling the house, and some of the biggest looked like they could snap like twigs. That storm uprooted some huge ones both in the woods and on the tree farm behind our house.

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