A couple of days ago I went to the car wash. To pass the time, I brought a hard copy of my latest project, which I was hand editing. I was there for an hour and was insanely productive. With the comfortable chair and their rocking soundtrack that was a mix of classic country, 70s rock, and 90s alternative, it was a magical creative experience.

It reminded me of a story from a few years ago about novelist Amy Daws who cured her writer’s block by writing in the waiting room of her local tire store. She became the unofficial mascot of the store with her own reserved seat. And she wrote a book, Wait With Me, about a writer who likes to write in the waiting room of a tire store and finds love there.

Sometimes when you are searching for inspiration, try changing location.

My time at the car wash prompted a creative habit I had forgotten. I like writing with noise. But with my new fancy chair and giant monitor, I had gotten out of the habit. Keep a list of habits that work for you so when your life changes, you don’t forget. It’s also good to have creative habits in rotation. When you get tired of sitting at your desk, go to the car wash.

Have you ever wondered why so many people like to write at coffee shops? There is actually science behind it. There is a noise sweet spot between too loud to be distracting and just loud enough to help you focus. Having noise that your brain has to work to block out actually makes you more creative.

There’s even an app called Coffitivity that mimics the noise of a coffee shop. I used it when I had to write at an office job that was library level quiet.

Some people use music as their ambient noise. Lots of writers like to have playlists for each project that evoke the mood and the theme of the story they’re working on.

What is your favorite kind of noise to work with?

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