Monday, September 20, 2010

How to Create A Productive Writing Space

Having recently moved into a new apartment, I've spent a fair amount of time creating a productive writing space. Every writer has their own process and their own quirks. Some people can only write outside their home, can only hand write with sharp number 2 pencils, or need a pot of coffee and their special blue ballpoint pen. The following is what works to get and keep me in "the zone."

The Physical Space

I like a small writing space. I want all things to be within arms reach or a swivel of my chair. Which is indeed point number one: have a COMFORTABLE CHAIR. If you're truly working, you're spending a lot of hours with butt-in-chair. You want a model that supports your posture and keeps you as comfortable as possible for the duration.

I like to keep all REFERENCE MATERIAL close by. This includes notes, reference books, and magazines--basically anything I may need to check or recheck during writing time. I have a small shelf with books on writing and references in my office as well as a crate full of back issues of The Writer and Writer's Journal. An old article can sometimes be the key to solving a current writing block.

ORGANIZATION takes top priority. I like my space to be clean and free of visual distractions. No clutter is allowed nor anything unrelated to the task at hand. CORK BOARDS AND WHITEBOARDS play a big role in my process as well. I pin up notes I've jotted on random scraps of paper, things I want to remember to include in work, thoughts and inspirations, plotting. I scribble points of interest and to do lists on white boards--in fact I'm writing from white board notes at this very moment.

a quote overlays a notebook and pen with pink tint

The Mental Space

My mental space is just as important to me as my physical space when writing. I have a wandering mind and imagination that I need to keep in check in order to do my best work and stay on task. I do what I can to minimize DISTRACTIONS. I keep myself logged off of the Internet as much as possible--too many temptations and time wasters lay hidden there waiting to sabotage my efforts.

I set a creative MOOD by lighting incense or candles, playing whatever music moves me at the moment, and setting the lighting as bright as possible.

I surround myself with plenty of INSPIRATION. I have a framed picture from the new Battlestar Galactica series above my desk. During a roadblock I glance up at it and try to channel Ronald Moore's ability to weave a story, create high levels of suspense and mystery, and create a substantial story world. I have quotes posted around my desk as well as my mantra of "Shitty First Drafts" written in all caps sharpie! I have pictures hanging on the wall from The Matrix as a reminder to be innovative and one from Harry Potter to remind myself that all things are possible. As sappy as it sounds, these items truly do instill me with passion and faith.

The last part of taming mental space comes from PEOPLE. There are those in your life that either intentionally or unintentionally bring you down. So many, due to their own prejudices, see writing as folly. They will call you during your writing time, get angry when you decline invitations, or just plain tell you you're nuts for attempting to publish. There are also those that will be supportive, give you the space you need to succeed, and cheer you on your road to success. Make sure you know the difference and act accordingly.

I'd love to hear what requirements and rituals other writers have.  Please share in the comments section.