Writing is an inherently social activity — we write for others — that we most often undertake in solitude. This is one of writing’s great contradictions. We write for an audience, even if that audience is a private note to our future selves. Academic writing, though, whether it is scholarly writing or the functional writing of service obligations that keeps the university running, is always intended for far less abstract audiences. This writing too, is most often undertaken in isolation, at least initially. For this reason, not only the physical environment where we write matters, but also the social environment within which we write.
These are the two writing “environments” I’m particularly concerned with here, the social writing environment, and the physical writing environment. The two might or might not overlap, depending on the type of writing that you’re undertaking.