Do you see yourself writing?
You have to see yourself as a writer, and to see yourself as a writer you have to see yourself writing, and to see yourself writing, you have to have a place that supports you and your writing.
You might not have an entire room/studio/office, but even just a comfy chair, porch swing, or window seat can support your writing practice if that’s the intention you assign it. I know a woman who wrote many of her early drafts standing at the ironing board because it was the only place her toddlers wouldn’t bother her.
Wherever you go to write, having an inspirational space will make your time spent writing more fun, and you’ll see the benefits in the quality and quantity of what you produce. If you are comfortable, you’ll get into the flow more easily.
Where is your writing space?
If you are lucky enough to have a spare room available for your writing space, all you need to do is make it the most comfortable, efficient, inspiring space you can.
If there isn’t an entire room at your disposal, can you find a corner of a room to claim as your own, a hallway nook, a space under the stairs? Don’t forget closets—they are often overlooked and can offer ample space for a writing surface with a bit of rearranging.
If you don’t have any area available to you, your task will be to choose a place like a kitchen table or counter, dining table, or even a coffee table if you don’t mind sitting on the floor. Do you like to write in bed? How about that ironing board?
Decide ahead of time what you want this area to look like when writing. Clear the table, rather than pushing things aside, and imagine it as you would your desk in your perfectly imagined writing room (more about this below).
If you are one of those people who prefers to write in public places, then go forth, but don’t limit yourself to a coffee shop. Give a little thought to locations near you that might be inspiring. Museums and art galleries can offer comfortable seating and an inspiring ambiance as long as you don’t get distracted.
Botanical gardens typically have myriad seating options scattered throughout their acreage and will most likely have a cafe, and even a simple local park is likely to have a bench. If you have the right kind of beach chair, a few hours in the shade of an umbrella, with the rhythm of the surf urging you forward might just produce something.
Find the writing surface that works perfectly for you.
If you are writing on a laptop, you can place it on your lap just about anywhere, but it’s probably best for your body to have it on a surface for substantial writing sessions. The same goes for a notebook and pen.
So let’s talk about your desk and chair. This article gives an excellent overview of how to ensure your chair and desk are ergonomically correct for you. Having a good chair is critical, so spend the time to get it right. It’s difficult to focus when you’re uncomfortable.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a good chair (although it’s possible); I found a simple adjustable office chair at the Container Store for under $100.
Remember to stand up regularly to walk around and stretch.
The surface area you’re working on does not have to be large. If you are in a tiny space, all you need is a surface ample enough for your laptop or pen and paper. If possible, you’ll want a little breathing room on either side for a glass of water or notepad.
If you are fortunate enough to have a good-sized desk, make sure it doesn’t become a depository for household flotsam and jetsam. Some people thrive when surrounded by clutter, while others are most productive in minimal surroundings. If you find comfort in your jumble of items, make sure to declutter regularly. Make it a habit to scan your desk before you sit down and remove anything that doesn’t support productivity and a sense of wellbeing.
Choose the objects that grace your desk with care and intention. When your eyes stray from the screen, you want them to land on something that gives you pleasure. Along with a few beautiful objects on my desk, I have a magnetic bulletin board on the wall in front of me filled with photos of the people I love and care for, and in looking up at it just now, I realize that everyone is smiling, which adds to my well being.
There are also standing desks, and I’ve even heard of a treadmill desk so you can write while you’re walking, but I can’t quite imagine doing that—I prefer to focus all my attention on my writing.
Remember, if you are uncomfortable, you won’t be productive.
Create the very best writing ambiance you can.
Lighting can have a profound effect on our mood and thus your creativity, so make sure your light source, whether natural or artificial, is ample and pleasing. Natural light can help stabilize our equilibrium and promote focus. If you are working in artificial light, LED light is the closest to natural light.
Are you a night owl? If you work late into the night, be aware of the effects of blue light. Exposure to the blue light of your electronics at night can significantly affect your circadian rhythms and compromise your sleep. A tried writer is not a productive writer.
Equally so, you want your room to be the right temperature, we aren’t living in a Dickens’ novel, so there’s no need to wear fingerless gloves and have a candle as your sole heat source—although a candle, lit with intention, can be a nice addition, even on a small desk.
I’m a nature lover and highly recommend having plants or flowers in your writing space. Studies show that being around plants can lower your stress, and you’ll be amazed at how a single flower will change the feeling of a room. Try it—it works!
If you need complete silence to create, noise-canceling headphones or a white noise machine are your friends. I like having music on when I’m working, and I listened to Mozart’s clarinet concertos the entire time I was writing my novel, The Gilder. Whatever the music you enjoy, make sure it’s without lyrics as they may distract you from your own words.
Remove distractions and stay focused on your writing.
It’s hard to say which comes first, writer’s block or distractions. Whether you are stuck in your work and looking for a distraction or allow yourself to be distracted from your work and then become disconnected from your writing, the culprit is the same—distractions.
Ensure that your workspace is free of electronics, such as your tablet, phone, or video game. If there’s a television in your line of sight, drape it with a pretty scarf and put the remote where it’s out of reach.
If you’re working at home and vacuuming might be more appealing than staring at a blank page, make sure the vacuum is well out of sight. The same goes for laundry and household projects. A week’s worth of mail, especially bills, needs to be banned from your space or hidden away while you write.
Having storage—cupboards, drawers, shelves, baskets, boxes—for your books, supplies, research materials, and file folders is essential. If your space is organized and uncluttered, you have a better shot at settling into your work and being productive.
Imbue your writing space with intention.
Your wonderful space and beautiful desk can only go so far in supporting your writing practice, so think about the intention you have in creating a space that supports your writing goals.
If you like working with affirmations, put your favorite one on a post-it note and stick it somewhere you’ll see it when you are working. Also, I highly recommend visualizing regularly—take a minute when you sit down to work and see yourself in your space, writing away. Imagine the pages piling up around you or the page-count increasing by leaps and bounds; feel free to exaggerate, you’ll be amazed at how inspiring that minute will turn out to be.
Going to the same place every time you sit down to write conditions the brain to know it’s time to work when you enter that space. Similarly, writing at the same time of day will reinforce your practice.
The more you write in your space, the more it will become saturated with your writing energy, so don’t waste another minute—find your special place and get to work.
I hope this was helpful. I’d love to see your writing space! You can post a photo in the comments box below.