"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Thursday, May 17, 2012

10 Tips for a Better Writing Environment

Whether you are just getting to your spring cleaning or you are setting up a new place for everyday writing, these tips are designed to help you maximize the potential in your writing environment.
1. It doesn’t matter if you are lucky enough to have an entire room dedicated to being an office, if you work in the spare bedroom or whether you have to work at the dining room table – keep it tidy. If your desk is clear and free from clutter there’s a better chance that your mind will be too.
2. Have the necessary equipment. You can still write successfully without access to the Internet, or even a computer, but it does make life a lot easier. And we haven’t yet achieved the ‘paperless office’ so a filing cabinet – or some form of storage for files – is more or less essential. And don’t forget supplies of stationery and any necessary reference books. You might be able to ‘google’ any information you need but most writers still build up a library of their favorite reference books.
3. Be organized as well as tidy. When you sit down to write have everything you need at hand. There’s nothing more distracting than having to jump up every few minutes to get something you’ve forgotten.
4. You also need to be disciplined. Some people write better in the morning when they’re fresh. Others can burn the midnight oil when everyone else is in bed. Find what works best for you and then make sure that you fit some time for writing into your life. You might not manage this every day but the more regularly you write – just like exercising your body – the stronger your ‘writing muscles’ will become. In Bird by Bird Anne Lamott recommends setting a goal of at least 300 words a day.
5. Don’t be afraid to be anti-social. When you’re concentrating on your writing let the phone ring (consider shutting off the ringer during this time) and then check your answering machine later. Tell family that you want some ‘me time’ for your writing and make it clear to friends that you are working – so stopping by for coffee and gossip isn’t an option. Turn off email, twitter, facebook, pinterest etc. during this time.
6. Make sure you are comfortable. Are the light levels right? Is your chair at the right height? Are you sitting at the correct distance from your keyboard and screen? Is the temperature right? Is there enough fresh air/ventilation? Sometimes these factors can be difficult to control but try your best – it pays dividends for both your creativity and your health.
7. We hear so much in the media about ensuring that you drink enough water, and it is true. Nothing zaps your concentration and gives you a headache faster than dehydration. You might need a strong coffee or soda to kick-start your brain but then leave the caffeine alone and drink lots of water.
8. The same goes for exercise. If you settle down to write for a prolonged period, make sure you get up every thirty minutes or so to stretch your legs and take a few deep breaths. I find a ten minute walk or workout (something to get the cardio going) does wonders for both my concentration and creativity.
9. You’ll find that it really aids your creativity if you are surrounded by things that give you pleasure. A nice view from your window, pictures of people or places that you love, scented candles, books you love, etc.
10. Even the best designed writing nooks can become tedious or block creativity from time to time. Sometimes you need a new environment or at least the thought of one to jump start the muse again. Try visiting a library, bookstore or just imagine your dream environment whenever yours isn’t available.
What tips or tricks do you have to enhance your reading and writing environment?


Dana said...

These are great tips! I really believe in number 9. It's so important to me that I'm surrounded by things I love when I write. :)

Konstanz Silverbow said...

Thank you for the tips! Writing has become a struggle for me lately. Between finding the time and place to get it done. I think I'm gonna go clean my desk when I get home. :)

Konstanz Silverbow

Heather Murphy said...

Great tips! I have the perfect room but a great view of a farm behind the house. The problem is that an old computer takes up all the desktop. I am hoping for a table to go straight in front of the window. It's on the "Honey Do" list :)

shelly said...

Excellent suggestions.

Nicole said...

Fantastic tips! Thanks for the list.

Marianne (Mare) Baker Ball said...

Have a small bowl of M&Ms nearby. :-) Music works for me too.

Eliza Wynn said...

Great list! I especially believe in getting up, moving around, and getting a drink of water.


anthony stemke said...

A very helpful list here. Maybe not everyone, but as for me, I like to have music playing. Not jarring, loud music, but soft.
But great advice here, thanks.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks for the list Sylvia. I think these tips in future are going to include keeping electronic files organised properly. I work between 2 computers and several thumb drives. Today I spent too much time trying to find an updated version of a file I KNEW I had. Finally found it, but it wasted too much precious time.


Sherry Perkins said...

As always, excellent tips and advice. I'll add another:
Even when you don't feel like it, just do it. Work on something.

See ya at the meeting.

P.S. From where is the last picture taken? Gorgeous!

Sylvia Ney said...

Sherry - This is Biblioteca Admont Abbey, Austria.