How location affects your mood, drive & creativity

BY Amanda Smith


2 February 2017

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Cosy under my thick Doona, I’m awoken by screeching fire trucks. Yep, I’m in New York city. I smile.

Extending my arm to reach for my phone, I check the time, with squinty eyes. It’s 8.00am. That’s a sleep in for me. But, let me backtrack for a moment.

For the past eight months, I’ve been living in Bali, Indonesia. It was like my body was in sync with the sun. I’d wake up when the sun did, and I’d watch it rise, peeking over the distant volcano. It was hard not to start my day this way.

Do a 180° flip and you’ll find my life in NYC. Not even a week into relocating, I’ve turned into a night owl. There’s an energy in NYC that’s undeniable. Like the Balinese sunrises I couldn’t miss, something drew me to NYC.


This may be the closest I’ll ever get to understanding how a person can be addicted to something. And even in winter, now. It’s cold, rainy, and moody. I can’t get enough of it.

It took me a week to get a good night’s sleep. Now, jet lag could have been partly to blame, but I was just riding the NYC buzz. I didn’t want to be inside. The people on the street, music and firetrucks were pulling me out.

It got me thinking. Our mood, drive and creativity does change as our environment does.

People hustle here. I mean, sweating. Any time of any day, you’ll find people working it. Walk into any café and you’ll observe all the aspiring authors typing away on their Mac’s. Grab a drink at night and there will be comic’s honing their stuff.

It’s infectious. It’s a love/hate relationship these people have with their city. Here is the place that brings their dreams to life, yet it’s f***ing hard to make it. And because of this, the city forces you to work harder than you ever have before.

I think this is why things happen here. It’s the sheer brutality of NY – it pushes you to go hard or go home.

I went to a free travel event last night. Wednesday night, downtown in the Financial District. I was one of 100 or so people with an interest in travel storytelling. The event was hosted by Passion Passport, a platform I’d been following for years. I walked out of that building on Broadway Street with a decision to make videos to tell my story. It was a seed already planted, sure, but it was the NY poke in the ribs I needed.

I sit here writing this piece in a coffee shop in East Village in the Lower East Side. It’s a small space and every table is taken by creatives, either writing or reading. The large, open windows look out to naked trees bare from the harsh NYC winter. My eyes wander to the earthy, auburn apartments with green fire escapes zig-zagging down to the ground. A sweet old Jazz tune brings me back to my table.

It’s often said that good, creative output requires depression – that no good writer was ever truly happy. And maybe my ‘depression’ is this NYC winter. Either way, I’ve never felt as alive and fulfilled as I have here, in New York, on this 4° day.

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