I've stumbled upon some insights regarding the best writing environment. There are many different advises regarding this matter, and maybe it is too subjective for a fact based research. Nevertheless, I guess there some objective measurements that could be used to determine the optimal writing environment.

Is there any scientific research indicating what environment is the best for writing?

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    "Best" is too subjective. It's like talking about the best environment for sleeping, or studying. Some people need absolute quiet. Some need white noise. Some people study to music. Some people need a TV on to sleep. Some people need a cold room; some people need a warm one. Writing is the same way: no two people are wired alike, so their writing needs will be different. There might be a study which determined "More people like X," but if you don't like X, then it's useless to you. Jul 9, 2016 at 17:26
  • Find a place where you feel comfortable and start writting. It might be someplace with little or no noice. It might be at a cafe/restaurant.
    – Oedum
    Jul 9, 2016 at 23:01
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    Actually, yes... I'll turn this into an answer instead of a comment if I can find the source, but there was a study done on software developers recently to determine the optimal work environment... It all came down to not being interrupted for the most part... Ah, it's somewhere in the book, "Quiet" by Susan Cain.
    – DoWhileNot
    Jul 12, 2016 at 4:20
  • I think you have a prior problem here that is likely to be difficult to solve. Presumably the best environment for writing is the one that produces the best writing. So to determine if a environment is best we much be able to measure the quality of the writing produced in that environment. Which means we need a scientific measure of the quality of writing. If we had that, it would solve a great many more problems than this one.
    – user16226
    Jul 17, 2016 at 11:12
  • I imagine the OP means only quantity of publishable output: --- what in an environment on average reduces or increases it. some cultures do have explicit rules for quality of speech or text. In China, Japan, it is conciseness and word choice accuracy and precision and lightness when read without unintentional redundancy whatever the meaning light or heavy. This correlates well with reading ease in psychology. But the same environmental factors apply for any coherent text output quantity. Whether quality or not quality in a sense, quantity is a memory problem for the reasons in my answer. Jul 17, 2016 at 19:28

1 Answer 1


The most productive thing to do is make sure you have an environment that allows you to remember and operate mentally on the detailed results of your thinking, without having to set everything down. This is so you don't get into the habit of writing as soon as anything comes to mind and editing it, and rewriting it, over and over.

A more productive habit is writing satisfactory text if you are writing, and moving on. This is possible only if you can edit in your mind and the environment aids you in this, instead of disrupting this process. You later rewrite or cut or add to this whole only a few parts. Editing thoughts is much easier. Easier than what? Than editing copy. It's much faster, too.

Donald Broadbent's Decision and Stress, 1971, London, Academic, has quantitative discussion with graphs of the effects on productivity and problem solving and memory --- of most environmental factors. Varying irritations in quantity has often nonlinear results. A significantly large number of things reduce work productivity --- and they interact. This book reviews most of the literature. Research level text, still cited. Much of it is about what harms representative memory.

Most memory is reconstruction (anticipated by George Mead, 1932) not storage, you abstract and chunk (Miller, Pribram, Galanter, 1960). Stored bits are rapidly processed into reconstructive memory and the stored bits discarded: Morten Christiansen and Nick Chater, April 2015, The Now-or-Never Bottleneck, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 39(1):e62.

You must remove all the irritants from your environment, yes, if you want it go like that. A work room, according to Bohr (says Wheeler), is a room where nobody can stop you from working; that is however the bare minimum.

Your brain neuronal at a cognitive level is a model reconstructing a similar sensation with similar and often different inputs all of several types. So there is no bits storage capacity limitation problem like in a hard drive --- but there are reconstructive limitations (Karl Pribram, 1966, Some Dimensions of Remembering, Macromolecules and Behavior, New York, Appleton Century Crofts). They correlate with where you are.

So you also need anything present that regenerates the thoughts you usually think. Only then can you edit them mentally into mental text. Presence of irritants such as temperature prevent remembering, but so does absence of other things. If you can't remember long texts, you'll be more frequently writing down text as as it comes. Then you will edit it, and rewrite it many times. Which is a much slower process of working than ... It violates Robert Heinlein's rules for writers about not rewriting too much. Rewriting too much gives you less output. For more publishable output you want a quiet peaceful environment, not too warm, but also one that is rich in objects to aid memory or cause you to recall related ideas. Functions with no input reconstruct no output and you don't remember much.

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