Writing Wednesday: Your Writing Space
There’s an interesting dilemma with writing in terms of where you write, and how it affects your work. Some people are less influenced by this, and can write almost anywhere, but some are flaunted by the smallest inconsistency at their desk. Some people don’t even know that they’re work is being affected, especially those who are just beginning. The smallest, teeny-tiniest thing could be getting to you, and you may not even realize how much it affects your writing.
Let’s go over some common ones, and see if you have any of these problems in your writing space. For those of you who can write anywhere, free of all distractions no matter what’s around, this may not apply to you. But if you ever are struggling with where you write, this list might help you.
Windows: Is your desk near a window? Have problems writing during the day? The window could be a factor in the struggle.
Windows allow sunlight in, which is good for health but not for computer work. The glare can make it tough to see the screen, and if the light hits your eyes, it can screw up your mood while you’re writing, withdrawing you from the world you’re in. Windows also offer a view out, and that can be very distracting. People still need to live while you’re writing, and chances are you will see a lot of stuff out of that window while you’re working, and some of it you’re going to want to take a glance at. You do have will power, and can control how much you look out the window, but if possible, try to cut out the distraction all together. Use a thick, dark blanket to curtain the window, or a windowless room, and this problem will cease to exist.
Internet: You had to expect to see this somewhere. Nowadays, internet connections have become easier to get than food, and most of us are constantly connected in some way. Your phone, your tablet, and the very computer you write on all have internet capabilities, and those capabilities are a huge distraction.
This especially gets tougher if you’re already promoting your work using social media (if you’re not, you probably should be). The urge to go and check your Twitter or Facebook feeds will get stronger the more you promote, and if you have a book out, the urge to check sales can also be overwhelming.
My advice is to shut off the internet completely while you write, and that means turning off your phone and tablet as well. Put those two things in another room, away from your writing space, so you won’t be tempted to turn them on and check things out. You should also have two computers. One that’s not hooked up and is primarily used to write, and your leisure computer that you use for everything else. If you don’t have two computers, don’t fret. Just shut off the internet every time you’re writing, and if you have to, unplug the connection.
Cleanliness: OK, I’m bad for this one myself. When I’m hard at work on a project, my desk gets clogged with papers, pens, cans, bottles – you name it and it’s there. But, after a bit, this will get to me and my production will slow. I can’t move as freely around the desk, which is a problem. The ugly sight is distracting, which is another problem. And sometimes, there is even a smell.
Yup, that is a problem.
So keep your desk clean, keep your area free of clutter, and try to organize as much as you can. You will likely fall off the wagon once in a while, but just remember that it does affect how you work, and is something that’s easily avoided. Keep it up as much as possible.
Lighting: I find that unlit rooms are a bit too dark for me, but too much light can be just as bad. This will be different for everyone, but it is important. For me, if I write in the dark, I will I grow tired more easily, my eyes hurt more, and my brain seems to only work at half-capacity (some may say a quarter capacity, presuming I only use half most of the time). Add too much lighting, and the light bulb itself can be an odd distraction. So, I personally, use a lamp while I write. It’s just enough and not too much for me, and it works like a charm.
I’ve written in other places, and in some pretty tight spots, and in those situations I’ve figured out the most comfortable position, and went with it. You don’t need the perfect lighting or space. But it’s nice to have it when possible, and good to know what works so you can replicate it as best you can.
You may like it dark, you may like it bright, or you may like it in between (or even in between that), but the point I’m making is that the light in the room can affect you, and if you can find the right amount that works, try to stay consistent with it.
- Comfortable Position/Chair: If you’re not writing comfortably than you’re going to have a tough time doing it. Find the spot you’re most comfortable, while still keeping your neck straight, head up, and back mostly straight (besides the natural curve between lower and upper back. See the diagram below).
If you find you cannot sit like that, and by sit like that, I mean, sit with proper computer posture, then you need a new chair. Get one with good back supports, and adjustments that keep you in the proper position comfortably. If you’re straining to sit like that, then you may need to play with the adjustment some more, or you need to get used to it. The bottom line is: what you have isn’t working, and will cause irreparable damage to your body in later years, if you keep up slouching.
When you’re sitting at a computer for long periods at a time, you need to sit properly, and you need to be comfortable while sitting properly. Sitting up in bed with a laptop, back to the wall, works too, as long as your back sits flush with the support.
That’s what I have for tips on space. I know they weren’t huge, and most were probably obvious, but the few I have left are hardly worth bullet points, as they tie right back into distractions.
Here they are in short form:
- Music can be a distraction, or it can snuff out noise, depending on who you are, and what kind of music you are listening to. Figure it out, and if you can’t work with music, but need to eliminate noise, the invention of earplugs is a handy one.
- People can be a distraction, so let the ones who would distract you know when you plan to write, and that if the door is closed, don’t come-a-knocking. Might be a good idea to put a sign up too.
- Video games are a HUGE distraction. Keep them off your writing computer, lest you’ be tempted into an hour and a half of Minecraft, or something of the like. I broke this rule to get a Super Mario emulator…Let’s just say my production was down for a bit, and I learned from it.
In short, get rid of all your distractions, and make sure your work space is good for you. It won’t always be, but when it can be, make sure that it is. It will help your writing along, and make the whole experience of writing elsewhere a little better. The main thing is to recognize the quirks that affect your space, and act accordingly.
What do you think?
Do any of these things distract you?
Do you have any to add?
Or do you think that people who have a hard time with certain spaces are whiny babies and should just shut the hell up and write?
Whatever your opinion, let me know in the comments below!
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