Curious Rat

Change Your Environment, Boost Your Creativity →

The Atlantic:

Darkness and dim lighting can encourage freedom of thought, which leads to a more prolific generation of ideas, according to a recent paper in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. Specifically, dim lighting downplays a room’s distractions, promoting focus on internal reflection and the work at hand.


Evidence also supports the habits of people who eschew a desk altogether, instead opting to work in a coffee shop. A little bit of ambient noise (between 50 and 70 decibels—the average noise level of a coffee shop) slightly disrupts the mental process, which one study showed to help people engage in more abstract thinking during a word-association task.

Perhaps this was why some of my best work was written at the back of the Ground Central cafe near my office. Dark, mildly disruptive, and familiar, yet not my usual workspace. And then there’s this:

Like a few notable modern creatives, such as Donna Tartt, Quentin Tarantino, George R.R. Martin, and Neil Gaiman, Fitzgerald also wrote by hand, only moving to his typewriter for final drafts. Though few people actually do it anymore, writing by hand can help with idea generation, learning, and memorization.

I completely agree with that.

Sylvia Beach vs. Censorship in the 1920s →

Sylvia Beach, proprietor of the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, was the first to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses at a time when no mainstream publisher would:

In 1922, Sylvia remarkably and single-handedly published Joyce’s epic tome. He was notorious for working until the end, trashing printer proofs by adding huge amounts of text and working on his novels and stories up to the very last minute. While other publishers turned their backs on Joyce’s genius, Beach chased it—and like a good entrepreneur, risked everything in order to afford its printing.

Unfortunately for Beach, the risk did not pay off when Joyce eventually sold the rights to the book to Random House in the 1930s and failed to pass any of his advance on to her.

Baron Fig Apprentice →

Baron Fig, makers of the Confidant notebook, have a new product out called the Apprentice. It’s a pocket notebook that sets itself apart from the competition in one special way:

We’re treating an analog product like a tech one—by continuously taking feedback and iterating the design. The community shapes the product.

They come three to a pack for $9.

Rare Footage of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli →

ᔥ Open Culture:

Reinhardt and jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France in 1934, and in the forties, Reinhardt began composing, and toured England, Switzerland, and the U.S. as a soloist with Duke Ellington’s band. He recorded his final album, Djangology in 1949, retired in 51, and died in 53, already a legend, “one of the few European musicians to exert a serious influence on the American art form of jazz,” writes an NPR “Weekend Edition” profile.

As stated in the Open Culture article, Reinhardt played a role (not literally) in one of my favorite Woody Allen films, Sweet and Lowdown. Gypsy jazz also had a hand in what may be my favorite Allen film, Midnight in Paris, in the form of the piece “Bistro Fada” by Stephane Wrembel. A live rendition of the song can be heard below.

I Wrote a Novel By Hand →

I wrote a piece today for The Cramped about writing my third novel, LUMINOUS. I wrote the whole first draft with nothing but pen and paper. It was a process. I have the hand cramps to prove it.

The biggest thrill came from watching the back of the notebook get thinner. I use Scrivener‘s word goal tool religiously, but a meter turning from red to green doesn’t have the same effect as holding a stack of pages in my hands and saying, “I did this.”

Hope you enjoy it!