1. Your comfort level
How comfortable you are in a setting determines more of your writing style than you think. For example, if you write at home the chances are high that you’re at the peak of comfort. It’s your own space, decorated with your stuff and populated by your family and/or pets. You can plug in or play music aloud at as high a volume as you want. Plus, you have access to all your favorite snacks.
This level of relaxation can produce one of two results (or a hybrid mix, which I often encounter). Either you will be tranquil enough to meet all your writing goals, or you will feel a lack of pressure and lose any and all motivation you once had.
Let’s’ blame the internet (it’s easier to do that).
Now let’s say you’re at school or work—when you have a break, or when you have the evenings off, you are undoubtedly less comfortable. You will be exhausted from the long day, and your brain is probably full of numbers and facts and scheduling. When you flop down in front of your computer, the will to write is probably low. I have written other articles on how to stay creative on a busy schedule and what makes a good writing session, so I highly recommend using those techniques when you feel burnt out.
Overall, your environment can dictate your desire to write. Be aware of what makes you tired and what eases you into a writing mood. The more conscious you are of these factors, the better writing results you will reap.
2. The people
This links closely to your comfort level. Social science is a strange thing—in general, individuals pick up the nuances of the people they spend time with. As a result, the longer you hang out with someone, the more you begin to act like them. Think of your friend groups, and the different types of conversations, in-jokes and interactions you have with each. Most likely, you don’t talk to your mom the same way you talk to your professors, which is different than the way you talk to your closest friends.
Writing friends are a godsend in this regard. Being able to openly talk about inspiration, characters, plot devices and whatnot certainly brings down motivational barriers. Writing classes offer such a unique dynamic that I hope every aspiring writer has the chance to take several, if not get a degree in writing. The people you will meet will certainly affect the way you write.
In addition, know how you relate to others. As an introvert, I find people somewhat draining. If I spend the day out and about, my energy is often too low to attempt my projects at all. My salvation is my best friend, with whom I communicate over instant message. Since I’m able to talk to her while I’m writing, I can ask her any questions or seek the incentive I need.
All this affects your writing. Your people are your parameters. You will notice their habits, their vernacular, their methods of handling problems, everything. People are one of the greatest writing resources you’ll ever have, and being around them can improve the realism of your work (even if those same people do make you tired). Choose them wisely and treat them well, and hopefully as a result your writing will reflect an increase in quality.
3. The culture
Culture is a combination of your comfort level and the people who surround you. Until I studied abroad, I had no idea what this implied. After only living in rural North America my whole life, spending three months in Italy showed me how incredibly different cultures can be, and how to adapt to and interact with them.
Comfort-wise, stepping into a new culture is always a bit startling. Some people even go through culture shock. People-wise, it’s just as startling, but incredibly fascinating as well. For the first time, I lived in an entirely new setting where the food, customs, money, traffic, entertainment, religion and politics were so different than what I was used to.
As a result, my writing style changed. Once I grasped the concept of difference between cultures, it became easier to develop cultural differences in my own work. It’s important to remember that while cultures vary so much, the populations are still all human. The fact that we are all the same and yet can create such beautiful and diverse ways of life is incredible. As a writer, this knowledge—and involvement—was invaluable.If you get the opportunity to go abroad, please take it. If you can’t afford it, there are still plenty of ways to witness culture shifts right where you live. The United States are a prime place to do so. As a country girl, all I have to do is take a trip to the city and I’m in another world. If you’re a northerner, go south. If you’re from the west coast, head east. Stay in a countryside bed and breakfast. Go to the top of a skyscraper. Eat something you’ve never eaten before. Culture is everywhere. Find it, live it and write about it. The experience is something you can get nowhere else.