A few of my professors told me to write every chance I got. One professor in particular stated that she would take advantage of every opportunity, including while she was waiting in her children’s school pick-up line. She said she could get a good fifteen minutes of writing in. All you had to do was block out any distractions. Focus on your writing.
I tried something similar to that. However, it was an utter disaster. I kept getting distracted by all the people and noises around me. Plus, the air conditioning was cranked way up. All I could think about was how I wished I’d brought a jacket.
Even writing in my house, while other people are moving around me, is distracting. In grade school I never was able to watch TV/listen to music, while doing homework. The same goes for my writing. For me, I need to have a separate space, a space that’s distraction free. That means no music, TV, or other people. This is doubly so for revision, because I like to read aloud and talk to myself, while editing. I may even act out a few scenes to get all the staging straight.
Some things I’ve found that help me focus and get my creativity flowing are:
- Choose your space. This one seems obvious, but it can be more difficult than it first appears. Some people are able to work anywhere. I envy those people. If I don’t have a place, where I feel inspired and motivated and won’t be distracted, my brain will shut down. There’s a good chance I’ll end up watching TV or reading.
Think about the places where you’ve written your best pieces. Maybe it’s a specific bench at a park. Maybe it’s in your sunroom. Maybe it’s laying in the middle of the floor. The spot you choose should be relatively quiet, because you want to escape into your head.
Pay attention to the position your write in. For me, I write best when I’m sitting upright at a desk or cross-legged on the floor with my laptop and notebook on the coffee table. I like to be able to spread out, so I need a decent sized writing space.
- De-clutter. If you’ve ever done spring cleaning, you know that after you cleaned out your closets and drawers and have vacuumed and scrubbed every surface, you feel a lot better. De-cluttering is one of the best ways to increase motivation and productivity.
You may not notice it pre-cleaning, but clutter blocks creativity. The times that I’ve allowed clutter to accumulate, I’ve felt overwhelmed looking at the mess. I also felt cramped. I kept thinking about the mess. Once I cleaned up, my creative juices flowed a lot easier.
- Have natural light. This one is very important. Sunlight improves mood, alertness, and productivity. There’s a reason seasonal affective disorder occurs more often in the winter months than summer or why Alaskans tend to drink a lot more alcohol in the winter than summer.
Without good lighting, a space can appear dull. A fog settles over our brains decreasing our ability to think clearly and cohesively. Poor lighting affects our emotions. Good lighting induces feelings of elation, while dim lighting creates depressive feelings.
I write better when I have exposure to natural light. I’m able to concentrate on my writing and am in better touch with my emotions. However, I can’t face a window, while writing, because I’ll end up watching what’s going on outside.
Where’s your writing workspace?
(Photo courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.)