Thanet Writers Research Temperature and Creativity
Blimey it’s a bit on the warm side of life, isn’t it? I’ve never been a fan of summer or warm temperatures in general; I’m quite hairy and I’m moderately allergic to the sun – not a great combination to have when the relentless rays of the sun last for the vast majority of the waking day. My hatred of the heat got me thinking about if temperature has an effect on creativity. Obviously, extreme temperatures are going to destroy any creativity as your body shifts to survival, but what about more normal ranges that we’re likely to experience?
There is actually a surprising amount of research about this topic. The problem is that there are a lot of contradictions to get through as people look into different aspects of this and use different methodologies. There’s a good amount of evidence to say that the further away from the equator you get the better the creativity is. One explanation for this, and there are a couple of ideas, is that parasites and the like prefer the hotter temperatures of the equator over the cooler climates as you near the poles. So, for the purpose of this I’m just going to be looking at temperature’s effect on a much smaller scale.
To start with, biologically speaking we don’t like even mild temperatures outside of the normal ranges, which falls between 20 and 22 degrees Celsius. When the temperature changes by a few degrees our bodies have to alter what they usually do to compensate. In hot temperatures we start sweating and in cold temperatures we start diverting blood away from the extremities like the hands to keep the core healthy. Both being too hot and too cold forces your body to use more energy to keep you where you should be, energy that could be used for something else like creativity. There are also effects like dehydration and changes to blood pressure that, generally, leave you feeling like you have less energy.
Then there’s the environmental factors to consider. Colder temperatures tend to come with less sunlight. This has a couple of effects. Firstly, there have been some studies that show that a lack of vitamin D, the vitamin we get from the sun, can result in lower energy. The lack of light plays havoc with our melatonin production as well. Melatonin is a hormone that our body starts producing when it gets dark to encourage us to go to sleep. There have been some studies that show that workers are more productive and creative in that sweet spot temperature of 20-22 Celsius but the science in some of these is less than desired.
To sum up, temperatures outside of our comfortable norm will have some negative effect on our creativity. Why this might be is debatable but it’s also very important to identify what your comfortable norm is. It’s easy to say that the ideal temperature is between 20 and 22 Celsius, but we are all very different people, and comfortable in different temperatures. So, if you find yourself struggling to write in the summer month’s unbearable heat, you could try doing it in the early morning or the twilight hours to see if that renders any improvements when the temperature is more comfortable for you. Or, if you’re struggling in the winter you can try and move your writing spot to a warmer part of the house or sit in front of a window during the day so you can try and capture some the sun’s goodness.
© 2020 David Chitty
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.