A constant flow of creative energy is a goal devoutly to be wished. We don’t always manage to be as creative–or as productive–as we would like, but a small change to our working environment might make a big difference.

Ambient Sound and Creativity

A recent study showed that about 70 decibels of noise literally triggers the part of your brain responsible for creativity. 50 decibels was found to be too soft and 85 decibels too loud. Here is a chart of common sounds and how many decibels they are.


The noise level in that coffeeshop you like is about right, but so is your livingroom TV or radio, a vacuum cleaner or the white noise you hear riding in a car going 25mph.


If you don’t want to go to the coffeeshop, but want the non-caffeine-related benefits, you can even have the noise of a coffeeshop at home via this app!

Silence and Creativity

At the other end of the spectrum is a more difficult thing to find: silence. Many creativity experts feel that silence is the only true route to creative thinking.


Many creatives of the past had an opinion: Thomas Merton – “In silence you will discover the Great Artist from whom you emerged; you will sense the pulse of creative energy through your being so that you slowly grow to recognize that creating is your birth-right;” Shaksespeare called silence “the perfectest herald of joy.”


If you live in a city, a day of silence can be hard to come by and you, like our coffeeshop denizen above, may need to go somewhere other than your everyday workspace to find it.

If you find yourself stuck or struggling to be creative, why not try the unfamiliar? Whether you turn on that coffeeshop app or some music or even go out for some ambient noise, it could make all the difference in what you accomplish.

Or if your typical day is full of sound and fury, try turning everything off for a while. Go outside and let the only sound you hear be the grass growing. Either way, a change in your environment might mean a change in your mood and your energy and may very well-knit up the raveled sleeve of care into a lovely finished project.

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative