SUNDAY 27th October – DAY 3
It isn’t just the writing schedule that needs to be organised, nor the writing day, it is true what they say about clutter, a messy workspace clutters the mind. Now I would argue that the artistic creative natures we have been blessed with lead to a certain amount of clutter and colour and that most of us would be driven completely insane with a clear desk or workspace. However, for full productivity the potential for balance is something that could have positive results.
So be brave and read on.
1) Create the Space
Now I know we all dream of a writing room, an office or study of our own and some are lucky enough to have a designated space even. Some of you will read that sentence in shame and think of how the laptop perches on the breakfast bar, or of yourselves typing away in bed (I have already admitted to this) and I am not alone, I have read interviews with several published/ professional/ famous writers who swear by a good mattress as their foundation for creativity.
Maybe you are happy hot-desking around your house from bed to sofa to garden, or kitchen stool. I am for now, as I know we have a lot of work to do on the house before I can even enter the room where my designated writing space is planned.
If you are a hot-desk percher you could still benefit from reading this session, so be shameless and guilt free.
The Search for Space
Have you got some un-used space? Under the stairs, or a large hallway or landing with wasted space, the far end of the dining room table… or even a corner of the shed (as long as it’s water-tight and you don’t mind spiders!)?
It is quite important to have a space you go to write (the ritual will help train your mind) one of the good things about a designated area is you can keep all your writing paraphernalia together in one place. (My four drawer unit yet to be built with have a drawer for research materials, including writing articles and current literature I may be using, a draw for my notebooks and own handwritten work – also housing the stationary and memory stick, another drawer will have all my writing related books and the final drawer will house the files of publishers/ editors and AOB that finds itself part of my writing life.)
There is Nowhere
If you have nowhere at all buy a small plastic box with a lid or a briefcase, bag or satchel and fill it with ALL your writing materials. You will then have everything you need organised and in one place in a container or carrier you can easily move around your living space. This will create more time to write because you won’t be wandering around trying to find all your bits and pieces first.
2) You will have heard this before … Remove ALL Distractions
One of the most common complaints from freelance worker’s is there is no respect for the fact that you are actually ‘at work’. If we could I am sure we would all unplug the phone and the internet, take the battery out of the doorbell, unscrew the letter box and the knocker and hang a large banner saying something like;
It’s not the dog you need to beware of if you interrupt me. Come back Saturday, Writer at WORK!
Or perhaps a more succinct message!
So here are more realistic tips;
1) Work offline
We have wifi but I am lucky enough to have a laptop that doesn’t recognise the network, so I have an OFFLINE machine. If you can try to work offline – it just takes a flick of a switch or the perseverance not to minimise the screen and hit the e icon. Come on YOU CAN DO IT!
2) Keep the TV switched off
– cover it with a tablecloth if you have to (gone are the days when a tea towel was big enough).
Do not be distracted by the TV – now we live in a wonderful age because now many of us have TV’s that record and we can reschedule our viewing rather than our lives.
In addition you will find many digital channels repeat there programming and you can often just look this up on the planner.
It is important to have down time and some television can inspire us, after all it has all been written but the phrase ‘time and place’ springs to mind.
How many other jobs have you had where you can just shirk off and watch TV?
3) Hide your book
If you are mid-way through reading a novel, place it somewhere away from your writing. Too often you will kid yourself by thinking, all good writers read, we know this, I am being good, I am reading.
You are supposed to be W R I T I N G!
I place my book on the mantle piece in the morning, there is a mirror so if I am tempted I will be confronted with the guilty look on my face (and hopefully decide against it), if I am lost in a particularly amazing book I schedule break times alongside 20 or 30 minutes reading. It can work as a good technique to get you writing quicker.
Set an alarm though and BE disciplined. Stop at the end of the sentence. Not the paragraph, page or chapter.
4) Keep out of the kitchen!
The peril of the hungry, caffine starved writer. Two ways around this, well three.
1) make sure you schedule in actual break times, set an alarm and depending on where you are with the writing set a 10 minute reminder so you can leave it at a good point to get back into it, leave yourself a prompt note for how to start writing again after your break and MOVE OUT of the writing area (god forbid you spill on the laptop/ipad/ word processor)! It is more than that it is an important signal to your brain about switching activity.
2) If you are a hungry picker kind of person have a snack tray near your writing area. I tend to buy those healthy (low cal) packs of 2 or 3 biscuits and easy, non-dripping fruit like grapes, blueberries (although wary of stains), bananas. I usually don’t write for longer than an hour or an hour and a half without a break away from the screen and to be honest in day jobs we often go for hours between feeds. I don’t always pile food temptations in front of me but it is better than getting up and wasting time in the kitchen. Just keep a banana handy and a bottle of water (with the lid on) and you will be fine.
3) Caffine however is something I cannot write without. I invested in a polar cup so that is about half a litre of coffee and I needn’t drink it all in one sitting as the lid keeps the temperature hot enough – this is my equivalent to a coffee house serving, as the nearest ones are in town and away from my writing area it is a good compromise.
Some writers may even buy a screen to keep them focused on their screen.
So let us know, how do you organise your writing space and what do you do to remove distractions? Share your tips in the comments box.