Dim and Cluttered Work Spaces Actually Boost Creativity

Is there an ideal atmosphere for creativity and innovation? Research suggests that dim light, a little messiness, and a shot of liquid courage are all boons to the artistic spirit.

Is there an ideal atmosphere for creativity and innovation? According to new research, as reported by The Atlantic's Cody C. Delistraity, you should probably model your home office after the forensics rooms from CSI and other crime shows. Darkness, apparently, is the key to creative light:


"Darkness and dim lighting can encourage freedom of thought, which leads to a more prolific generation of ideas, according to a recent paper in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. Specifically, dim lighting downplays a room’s distractions, promoting focus on internal reflection and the work at hand."

While those dim TV forensics rooms are nothing but the stuff of fiction (seriously -- how could you conduct that sort of investigation in cave light?), their atmosphere would probably augment most artistic impulses. Deilistraity lists several other studies that support habits such as working amidst clutter, writing in an ambient setting (such as a coffee shop), and penning first drafts by hand. 

Perhaps most interesting (yet not altogether surprising), Delistraity points to another study that suggests writers who get a little tipsy tend to be more insightful than their sober peers. Just remember that there's a difference between imbibing a little liquid courage and going full F. Scott Fitzgerald. Writing, as with most activities, doesn't get easier above 0.08.

It should be pointed out that these ideas aren't universal. Some folks buck the trends and do better work in silent, sterile environments. Others, like Fitzgerald, can create masterpieces while blasted out of their minds. All the information above suggests is that if you're having trouble finding atmospheres that work for you, a little clutter and noise could do wonders for the creative spirit.

Keep reading at The Atlantic

Photo credit: Masson / Shutterstock

In the following clip, Big Think expert Andrew Sean Greer discusses writing novels, tapping into creativity, and why writers drink so much:

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