I began this post thinking it would be a series of helpful suggestions to my fellow writers. Like most of my posts, I trailed off several times, ramble a bit, but some may find it an interesting read.
Despite what you’ve convinced yourself, where, when, and especially your emotional state impact your writing. You cannot flip a mental switch and transform into WRITING MODE. Because most novels are not impromptu, consider actively setting yourself up for success.
We all need one. Granted some people write in bustling cafes, but I think that is a fringe selection of writers. And I can’t help but wonder if writing in Starbucks during rush hour doesn’t negatively affect your work? But that’s another discussion.
Where you choose to create is imperative. Some writers may possess superior monk-like concentration. But for the majority, unless you’re a seasoned meditator, much of your energy will be spent ignoring the incessant chatter of caffeine infused addicts buzzing about, and not on the virtual page.
Live in a nuclear family dynamic? Maybe claim a room, corner, closet, as your writing space. Absolutely nothing but your laptop, perhaps a coffee pot, is permitted within the sacred literary alter. Tell your children a carnivorous troll lurks inside; write a convincing bedtime tale to hammer home the idea. Inform your spouse that if your hallowed chamber is defiled by their presence, you’ll take a lengthy vow of celibacy. Beloved feline ceaselessly meowing? Buy a dog; place its food bowl just beyond the threshold. Already share your home with a yappy canine compadre? Buy a bigger one; place its food dish outside the threshold.
Cozy living accommodations can make quartering off a personal parcel arduous. Look at your situation. Get creative.
Years ago, I lived in a modest two bedroom apartment with a roommate. Between our girlfriends, and Dale the elusive nocturnal field mouse we tried capturing but ended up just feeding, there was always someone there watching TV, cooking, planning, executing, tidying up after an impromptu party. These conditions made the entire apartment outside my bedroom a writer’s no man’s(woman’s) land. And my room? Well it was routinely occupied by my girlfriend who was in the habit of coming over unannounced, often uninvited. Thankfully I had one the bedroom deciding coin toss, winning the spacious walk-in closet. For years, I locked myself away amongst unused linen, and a perennially half full dirty close hamper, enduring unimaginative jokes about coming out of the closet when emerging.
Each individual’s habitat will pose unique challenges. Some may have an entire room, while others will be forced to hang a sheet, or, section off a corner of the kitchen floor with electrical tape.
Once claimed, and having repelled invading forces, resist introducing potential distractions. DO NOT, for example, hang a flat-screen on the adjacent wall. Refrain from stacking temptuous(may not be a real word, but it sounds good) novels on your desk. Ditch your smartphone at the door. Go offline. Keep your writing area sterile. You may be tempted to decorate your man/woman cave with inspirational posters featuring goldfish midflight quoting Lao Tzu about overcoming personal fears, and that’s fine. That distractive rabbit hole goes only so deep. Just try and avoid anything that links you to the outside world. While at your writing desk, you’re on Mars.
However, from time-to-time, the background may change for inspirational purposes, choosing somewhere that complements the scene in a story. For example, if your character is traversing snow-cap mountain peaks, consider going outside in January to write. If the world you’ve created exists in perpetual darkness, type at night with the curtains drawn. And yes, by my own logic I realize there may be appropriate times to hang out in a cybercafé, but that’s the exception.
When you live in an apartment, you develop a more, intimate, relationship with your neighbors. Their sleeping patterns, favorite TV shows/movies, how often they get laid, the scent of their favorite dishes are known to you. In a sense they become unwanted extended family members. Separated by paper-thin walls and a ceiling constructed of stale bread sticks, the only privacy you’re truly afford is that they can’t see you naked.
The ONLY trick I have found helpful was to alter my writing block. Waking up early in the morning, before the rhinoceros begins to stir, is the only way I can write in piece. A high quality, encompassing set of headphones helps too. Blocking noise with noise is hypocritical, but I would rather listen to Carbon Based Lifeforms than Stampy trot while occasionally dropping bowling balls.
I’m curious what challenges face my fellow writers? And the solutions they have come up with?