Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

The Exact Conditions Conducive to Creativity

a short story

Sarah Lofgren
4 min readJan 25, 2023


Gill sat at his desk with his face planted against the keys of his laptop. Outside a woodpecker tapped at the corner of his house. “Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap.” The bird had been engaged in the same activity for the last hour, despite all threats and curses aimed in its direction.

“Aaargggggummpph,” groaned Gill.

“Ffffffffffffffffffffffff,” went the cursor on his laptop.

It seemed as if each time Gill sat down to work on his novel, something intervened.

  • On Tuesday it was the neighbors, standing outside his window and arguing whether a suspicious trail of footprints belonged to a raccoon or a feral cat.
  • On Wednesday the temperature dropped into the low 60s and he kept getting too cold and having to put a sweater on, then too warm and having to take it off.
  • On Thursday he ran out of tea.
  • On Friday his pinky finger felt kind of weird and he wondered whether he might have sprained it. Not while writing, of course, since there’d been precious little of that going on, but perhaps while sleeping or buying tea at the market.

All week he’d had the vague idea that on Saturday he would redeem himself with a burst of momentum…