Tag Archives: better writing

Creating a Creativity-Fueled Workspace

16389062895_f1863e1609_oA 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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.)

Breaking down that Brick Wall: Working through Resistance to Writing

8932033483_187b8a780e_zSo you want to write a novel? That’s fantastic! Writing is a great way to express yourself creatively and to explore new, interesting, and often difficult topics. Sometimes, writing is simply a way to relax and enjoy yourself.

However, writing isn’t easy. Maybe you sit down at your computer or notebook and hash out the first five, ten pages quickly, but then you stall. Or perhaps you’re stuck on the first page, opening sentence, etc. No matter how hard you try the words aren’t coming to you. It feels like there’s a wall blocking your creativity, and anytime you try to scale the wall, go around it, smash it, or plead for it to please move, it refuses.

Maybe the wall knows that you secretly don’t want to be sitting down and writing. Whether you’ve got too much on your plate, or your buddies are all going out to get a drink, sometimes you don’t want to write, even though you know you’ll feel great after you do.

Think about all that homework you had to do during your school years, that work project that’s due on Friday, vacuuming your entire house, exercising, scheduling that doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off (writing a blog post)…most likely you’ve experienced some sort of resistance in your life. (There’s a reason trainers will tell you that once you hop on that treadmill, you stay on it for fifteen minutes before deciding whether you’re going to call it a day.)

How do you overcome resistance?

Don’t wait for inspiration to fly in via a muse. Often that only serves to make resistance to writing stronger because the more time you spend away from writing, the greater the distance becomes between you and your story.

Resistance is a natural feeling. Many times resistance occurs when you’re doing something worthwhile. Why? Because that something is challenging.

You may love writing, but it takes work, uses energy, and can be exhausting.

So, what do you do?

  • Make a list. Create a list of all your writing goals for that day. (or goal, such as write 500 words, or write for 15 minutes) Once that goal is down on paper, tackle it. Many times having your goals written down makes them seem more real, and more doable. Plus, it’s always nice to be able to cross something off your list.
  • Make writing a habit. One of the best ways to shoot yourself in the foot is to write inconsistently. If you write for two hours Saturday, but then don’t write again until a week later, you’ll probably have to go back and reintegrate yourself with your story. By writing consistently, whether it’s every day or three times a week, you’ll remain focused and in your characters’ heads.
  • Don’t let resistance become an overwhelming monster. Ever experienced how putting something off only makes it a bigger challenge? If you’re feeling resistance to write, don’t close your laptop and call it quits, work through the resistance. It may take you fifteen minutes to write one double-spaced page, but you’ll most likely discover that after a bit that resistance fades away and your creativity flows.

There’s a reason why you’re writing. Remind yourself of that reason (hopefully it’s because you love writing for such and such reasons, like you have this story inside of you that’s just bursting to be told). When there’s meaning behind what you’re doing, often there’s less resistance.

How do you work through resistance?

(Photo courtesy of Hans Splinter.)