Writing advice

10 Tips to a Better Writing Space

I, and every other person who comments about writing, have mentioned before how important it is that a writer writes every day. Without exception. It’s the best way to hone one’s skill and convince the muse to stay in the vicinity. Only by doing it every day does the process become second nature.

One of the best ways to make that happen is to have a dedicated writing space. An office, if you will. Here are ten tips to create that writing space.

Set aside an area solely for writing

Most of us are not in a position to have a dedicated office, but we can still have a dedicated space, whether it’s a prefab computer desk in a corner of the master bedroom, or in the guest room that’s usually empty, or a corner of a heated garage, have a space. It is important to be able to leave your work where you need it, rather than having to constantly move it for other activities. This can quickly become an excuse to avoid writing (as in I don’t feel like getting everything out again tonight).

Have a door

Psychologists tell us that walking through a doorway triggers something in our subconscious that says we have left one environment and entered another. It is the passing through the threshold that makes us forget why we went there in the first place. The mission was of the previous environment and our subconscious deems it irrelevant to the new one. We can use this psychology to separate our “real” life and our “writing” life.

Use going through the door to symbolically leave your other life behind and become a writer.

Have a computer dedicated to writing

Well, it doesn’t have to be dedicated solely to writing, but it does need to be fairly safe. If you’ve spent six months creating the great American novel, it would be a shame to lose it because your six-year-old hit the wrong key while playing a game. Do your writing on a computer that is relatively safe from such catastrophes.

Leave the project up on the computer

Another symbol I greatly believe. I feel that if I never close or minimize my current project (and I almost always have a project in progress. [Or two or three.]) I never have to restart it. I just pick up where I left off. It’s similar to Hemingway’s advice to always stop for the day while you still know what’s going to happen next. It builds momentum.

Attend to your body first

This is about cutting down on distractions. Don’t begin your writing session hungry, or thirsty. Have some snacks and something to drink at hand. Go to the bathroom before you start. Don’t let your physical body get in the way of your writing.

Have a specific time to write

This is about creating a habit. Even if you can only wring thirty minutes out of your real life, dedicate that thirty minutes to writing. Treat it like you would a regular job. You go to work because you have to pay bills, but after a while it also becomes habit. Treat writing the same way. Make it automatic. At 11:00 every night, for instance, rain or shine, you will do nothing but write until bed time at 11:30. Every night.

Convince family and friends to leave you alone

This goes with your specific time to write. You have to convince your friends and family that you seriously need to be left alone for this period. Turn off your cell phone and the ringer on the landline. Log out of your social media accounts. This is your time for writing. You need to take it seriously and everyone else in your life needs to respect that.

Be comfortable

Again, this is about minimizing distractions. Despite all the talk about art coming from suffering, you’re not doing penance here, you’re trying to write. So buy yourself a comfortable chair. Set it at a height where the keyboard (or notebook) isn’t too high or too low. Set the monitor so you don’t have to strain your neck to see it. Set the font on your word processer to a large enough size your eyes aren’t strained reading what you’ve written. Relax. Make it as easy as possible for your creativity to flow.

Have good lighting

Many workspace studies (yes, there are such things) emphasize the importance of bright lighting. It improves the mood and productivity of workers everywhere. Treat yourself at least as good as those workers.

Have radio playing quietly

Many of those same studies have found that having some music playing softly in the background also improves employee mood. This is a personal choice. I have a hard time writing to any kind of music but classical. Either I absolutely hate the genre and it becomes a distraction, or I love it and find myself singing along rather than writing. Some people prefer to write in silence. Stephen King has said he likes to write to Metallica. Find what works for you.

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