One of the first posts I wrote here had to do with finding the right place to write. For me, that meant sitting in the library. But after a few months, my creative juices dried up. I think the space was too quiet. So then I got a desk for the bedroom at home and rearranged the furniture and began writing in there. But that place had too many distractions. Dog, kids, man. A couple of weeks ago, I found the absolute perfect place and it’s not so much a place as it is a website.
It’s Coffitivity, a website that plays ambient sounds from coffee houses. I plug into it, turn up the volume and sink into my story. It may seem a little strange to be sitting in a coffee shop listening to coffee shop sounds on the headset, but it works. The indistinguishable chatter in the ear buds blocks out the distinguishable conversations — the occasional couple sitting having a “discussion” or the group having a little too much fun — around me for a perfect writing session. And of course, I can simulate the experience of being in a coffee shop by plugging into the website wherever I am. I’ve been surprised at how many paragraphs I’ve been cranking out.
But there’s research to back up my experience. Ravi Mehta, assistant professor of business administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her colleagues studied noise on creativity and found that a certain level of ambient sound is best:
Results from five experiments demonstrate that a moderate (70 dB) versus low (50 dB) level of ambient noise enhances performance on creative tasks and increases the buying likelihood of innovative products. A high level of noise (85 dB), on the other hand, hurts creativity. Process measures reveal that a moderate (vs. low) level of noise increases processing difficulty, inducing a higher construal level and thus promoting abstract processing, which subsequently leads to higher creativity.
Coffee shop sounds seem to be just about right for keeping the creative motor running smoothly. This morning I got email from Coffitivity announcing that they now have phone apps. You can even submit sounds from your own coffee shop. Kinda neat. Plug in and give it a try.
Photo: pixonomy / Flickr Creative Commons