Colour can have physical, emotional and psychological effects on us. How you think, feel and behave, your creativity, clarity and motivation. All kinda important things for a writer.
Now, painting your room orange is not going to magically conjure a story where there is none, or instantly turn a procrastinator into a go-getter. But it does have an influence. Your space is definitely important.
Colour is just one aspect of your space, but it is a relatively easy one to control. And there is psychology behind it – it’s all about how the different wavelengths of light from different colours hits your retinas, converting to electrical impulses that go to the part of your brain affecting your endocrine system (hormones) and much of your activity.
It doesn’t take much to introduce colour. Painting walls is the obvious one, but if you don’t want that much of a commitment, then you can also bring it in through artwork, flowers, furniture, cushions… even the pen your write with.
So what colour should you choose for your writing space?
The basics are the three primary colours, plus green – these affect different aspects. Blue for mind, yellow for emotions, red for body, and green is the balance or connectedness between all three. And if you combine colours, you get the effect of both. So orange, for example, has influencing effects on both your body and your emotions.
And it’s not actually the coolness or warmth of the colour that is most important – fortunately, since that can be confusing. It is the saturation of colours that affects how stimulating or calming they are. (E.g. Just imagine the difference between the effect of a lime green vs a soft mint green.)
Sounds simple enough so far. So let’s break down the effects of more specific colours, to make sure you are properly
Need more mental space?
White or Grey
White is the colour of cleanliness and space. If you need a really orderly environment to feel your best, it can be a great choice. The downside is that it can be too stark or bright, and may actually be overstimulating, especially if you are feeling tired.
If you like white but are having trouble with it’s clinical, science-laboratory feel, introduce textures so it’s not so sleek – soft blankets or cushions or rugs. Or add in natural materials like some wooden furniture. Think the muted tones of driftwood, not so much your grandmother’s mahogany sideboard.
Grey is an alternative to white for space that feels uncluttered. In fact, grey can be even more effective than white because it tends to actually recede – it is the only truly neutral colour, producing almost no effect. This is great if you find any stimulation in your environment encroaches on your own mental processes. But conversely, if it is overused it can be so un-stimulating that it tends to suck the life out of the room.
To use it the right way, do the same as with white and use textures and vary the shades. Also, mix it with other colours – whites for peaceful neutrality, or other colours to balance out the stimulation.
Want more energy & motivation? Or need to be extraverted?
Orange is a combination of red and yellow, giving you both physical energy and emotional confidence. It can help you feel active and outgoing, give you a burst of enthusiasm, or loosen up your inhibitions.
In huge blocks, like entire walls, it might be overstimulating for a writing space – great for a dining room where you want people to feel hungry and sociable. But eating and chatting are not going to get you so far into your word count, so use with restraint.
If you like orange but find it overstimulating, try just using it in accents – artwork, cushion – or in less saturated tones like coral.
Need inspiration or creative flow?
Purple is the colour of imagination, of higher things or deeper thoughts. It combines the influences on both mind and body, to be both peaceful and strong, and it is one of the best colours for stimulating creative and imaginative ideas.
If you need to get over creative blocks or come up with new ideas, purple could be your colour.
The downsides can come if you already tend to be overly esoteric, or if you are prone to feeling depressed. Purple can exacerbate or stimulate depressive states if overused, so be cautious if you know you might go there. Use it in small doses, or in something cheerful like flowers.
Feeling out of balance?
Green is the colour that has a balancing influence, bringing together mind, body and emotion. It is the colour so dominant in nature for a reason – so if you are struggling with work/life balance, with health or with stress, green can be helpful. (So can just getting out in nature, by the way, but that’s another post… 🙂
Green can also be good if you are working with other people and want to promote harmony. Apart from fluorescent shades or lime greens, you have to work really hard to make this colour overstimulating so it’s usually pretty safe to introduce.
The downsides come if you are ‘get-it-done’ kind of person – or want to be. You may find green too lacklustre in this case. So either don’t use it, or combine it with other colours.
Need your mind to be focused?
Blue is the most common colour used in offices for a reason. It is the colour of the mind, and it is calm and serene, cooling emotions, and stimulating clear thoughts so you can be focused and productive. If you need to concentrate and find just the right words, then blue can be great.
The downside for writers, though, is that blue can cool you down a bit too much. If you were working with numbers, or something dispassionate, then plenty of blue is perfect. But when you are trying to write with your heart, then you don’t want to be totally cool headed.
If you find it too intellectual, then use more soft blues, or balance it with more passionate colours.
These, of course, aren’t the only colours available to you, but they are some of the best suited to a work space or writing room. Even within this narrowed down list, there are so many shade and hues to play with, that picking your favourite will keep you busy for days.
So how do you choose?
- First, narrow it down to what your main intention is, as described in the effects of each colour.
- Play around before you commit to painting an entire wall. Bring some objects or artwork in first – anything temporary. Or paint boards with different colours and put them near you while you work to test out the effects.
- Then just go with your gut.
Colour is as much about personality as it is about the science of how colour affects us. Even though there are some universal rules to it, at the end of the day it’s down to how the colours make you feel.
Now to spend a week procrastinating on Pinterest to find the perfect design….
What colour is your writing space? What colour do you want it to be?