“We can’t always get the things we want, but we can make the most out of what we have.”
Whether you write in coffee shops, an office, a Victorian themed study, a library, or a secluded bedroom, the important thing is that you have a space where you can get quality work accomplished. We all have different needs when it comes to our writing spaces. Some of us like the hustle and bustle of a busy coffee shop. Others need a place that’s as quiet as a graveyard. Whatever your preference, you must find THAT spot.
Having the RIGHT spot is all about figuring out what elements bring about the most creativity and work flow. Some say a good writer can write anywhere. Well, I take some issue with that statement. Yes, a good writer can write in many situations and locations, but that doesn’t mean they’re getting the most out of their writing time. The reason you should find your writing space is to develop a good writing routine. This is the cornerstone of optimal productivity.
When you find your writing spot—which will eventually flesh out into a full-fledged writing process—you’ll be able to get yourself into a creative flow state at a much quicker rate than if you just sit down wherever you are and get to work. Now, I’m not saying working wherever you are whenever you get a chance is a bad thing, but it’s not ideal for consistency.
To better picture what I’m talking about, here’s an example of my current writing routine: I get home from my day job at 4:00 pm every weekday. I shower, eat, and relax for about an hour. A little after five o’clock I begin to let my mind ease into a creative state. I do this by switching my thoughts from what I’ve done or what needs to be done to ideas: story ideas, characters, plots, weird and impossible scenarios, and anything else to get the creative juices flowing. I think this is an important step a lot of writers skip. It’s like warming up before you workout. Sure, you can go right into your workout, but you might get hurt or burn yourself out too quickly if you go into it cold.
Once my brain is all loosened up and my thoughts flow freely, I sit down at my writing desk in my bedroom. This isn’t necessarily my optimal writing environment—as it’s not as quiet as I’d like—but it’s the best place I have in my house currently. My dream writing space is a warm, quiet study with a thick, lockable door. As with life, one must make compromises until change is ready and available.
Regardless, this is the place I’m most comfortable writing at, and it’s where I get into my best writing zones. I usually write for a few hours in the evening after I start. Often, though, my writing zones last longer than expected, and I end up having to stop myself from writing to deal with real world tasks. It wasn’t always like this for me, though.
I used to be terribly sporadic with my writing time. For a while I wrote in the mornings before work, but it wasn’t an optimal time for me creatively. Then I decided that after work was the best time for me. But this too had its issues. You see, I wasn’t committed to it. I would write when I FELT like it instead of when I NEEDED to. This resulted in a lot of unfinished projects and feelings of failure.
One of the main issues I had was that I didn’t have a designated writing space back then. I would write in the living room, on lunch at work, in the kitchen, in bed, at a cafe, and pretty much wherever I could when I was in the MOOD to write. I thought this was what writers did. Write whenever and wherever the creativity struck. And this might be the optimal situation for some of you. For me, though, it was the worst thing I could do. It made me lazy. I would always put off my writing until I was in the mood. And guess what? The more I put the writing off, the less likely I was to get in the writing mood. Essentially, I was sabotaging myself.
Now, with a designated writing space in place, I’ve been able to create an awesome writing routine that optimizes my periods of creativity. I can turn on my writing MOOD now instead of waiting for it to come. This has increased productivity, my sense of accomplishment, and made me enjoy writing a lot more. Most importantly, I no longer put off work for later. My writing space is the foundation for my writing routine which has killed my old bad habit of constant procrastination.
Of course, I don’t have the beautiful study I desire, or some quaint cabin in the woods where I can write with the sounds of nature as a backdrop. And most likely, neither do you. We can’t always get the things we want, but we can make the most out of what we have. If you have a quiet room in your house, that might be just enough of a place to start your writing routine’s foundation. Need proof to see this is the way to go? Look no further than some of the greatest writers in history. Almost, if not all of them had designated writing areas.
Stephen King had his writing desk, as made famous by the above picture. And if you’ve read his book On Writing, you know he tried the whole, giant desk in a study route, but it didn’t work for him. It wasn’t his optimal writing space. For him, a smaller area in a corner was where his writing zone was tapped into.
Neil Gaiman created his own writing gazebo in the woods behind his house. But he’s a little bit different of a writer. Sometimes he will go in there everyday and write all the time. Other times the gazebo loses its magic and he’ll abandon it for years. I point this out because you don’t need to stick with a writing space permanently. Just go with what works and use it until it no longer works. If a man can get tired of working in a designated writing gazebo, he can get tired of working anywhere. Don’t be afraid to switch things up if your writing starts to go stale.
To wrap this up, creating a writing routine is the best way you’ll develop the consistency to become a successful writer. In order to develop that writing routine, it all starts with your writing space. Once you have found THAT space, you can develop your writing process. Once you have the writing space and the process down, your routine will start to take shape. And once you get into a steady routine, writing will become a lot more enjoyable for you.
I hope you’re able to take some of this advice into consideration when thinking about optimizing your writing routine. As writers, we’re all different. What works for me might not work for you. That’s why you shouldn’t get discouraged if you aren’t immediately able to get into a good writing routine. It took years of trial and error before I really found what worked best for me. So, don’t give up. And most importantly, no matter your situation in life, just keep writing!
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