I recently read two books that I keep managing to tie together: Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell, and Atomic Habits, by James Clear.
In the former, Gladwell talks about coupling, which shows us through data that cultural and environmental factors play a large part in our attitudes and behaviors (for example, Sylvia Plath killed herself with an oven, and when England stopped using gas ovens, suicides dropped).
In the latter book, Clear describes how you can cue specific habits with your environment—adding desirable habits onto pre-existing habits, for example. He says if you want to read every day, put your book on your pillow, and learn to associate the two activities.
The two books together have provoked a sort of paradigm shift in the way I view my environment. It really matters.
My fiancé and I recently undertook a drive from San Luis Obispo, California, to Indianapolis, Indiana, so he can start his first externship rotation. Externships are like try-outs for residency programs that students attend in their last year of medical school. Every four to five weeks, he will be in a new program, in a new state—all across the states!
Before we left, I imagined that while I sat in the car I would be super productive—editing my latest manuscript, filling out our wedding planner, and journaling. I only pulled my wedding planner out for about five minutes at one point (and it was forced).
We listened to the Dr. Death podcasts and 90’s music instead… I don’t think cars are conducive to productivity… However, trains… Well! Walt Disney thought up Mickey Mouse on a train ride, and J.K. Rowling thought up Harry Potter on one too…
My first bit of writing advice: take the train.
Although I didn’t get a lot of writing done, I think the drive got some creativity brewing in my noggin. Watching the landscapes change from California, to Arizona, to New Mexico, to Oklahoma, to Missouri, to Illinois, to Indiana made me think of different histories.
It was as if I were traveling through different countries. In Arizona, I talked to Spencer about Yellowstone, the ranching show my parents watch. In Missouri, I spent ten minutes reading the Wikipedia on the Louisiana Purchase. On the gridlocked I-40, I dreamt of sleep. It is sometimes interesting to remember that we are animals evolving to our environments.
All that said, in the wake of arriving in Indiana, and seeing my fiancé drive off to the hospital to begin his new chapter, I wanted to begin mine. So I’ve decided to start a vlog to accompany my blog. I’m going to create an environment to make videos. I’m going to create an environment for writing and editing. And I’m going to create an environment online where everyone can learn together and have fun! x