I love listening to music and podcasts while I’m doing other tasks. Having something going in the background makes mundane tasks like cleaning or gardening go more quickly and smoothly.
There are many authors who listen to music while they write and will even provide their fans with a playlist of what they listened to while writing each book.
I, on the other hand, can’t have anything with words going on when I’m trying to write. No podcasts, no music, no conversations, not even a television running close enough that I can distinguish any individual words.
Thinking about this topic, I started to wonder what kind of space you need for your best writing to come out.
We all have them.
I don’t have time. I don’t have space. I feel selfish and/or antisocial locking myself away. I’m missing out on time with my family.
Do you have a manuscript you’ve been working on for years because, every time you start to work on it, your kids/spouse/dog keeps interrupting every time you sit down? Do you start typing but get distracted by the crime drama on TV?
At some point, you have to decide if you’re really serious about becoming a writer. And to become a writer, you have to actually write something. That manuscript isn’t going to just pop into your head fully formed one day.
If what you’re doing now isn’t working, you are going have to do something to change.
Sit down and think about times in the past when you’ve felt the most inspired. When have ideas seemed to flow? Where were you? What were you doing?
Sometimes, I get great ideas while I’m working on a mundane task like housework. Sometimes, it’s when I’m cycling. And I’ve learned to keep a notebook on hand to jot down my ideas. Otherwise, they’re gone as quickly as they came.
But when I actually sit down to write out my ideas, I need a quiet, comfortable place without distractions. Right now, I’m sitting on my bed with my computer on my lap and my cat using my leg as a pillow. She’s actually kind of helpful because, as soon as I move, she’ll start demanding dinner. So, she keeps me from moving from my spot.
Where do your best ideas come to you? In what environment are you able to write them out?
Maybe you don’t know how you work best. That’s OK. Try out some different ideas.
Some authors talk about disappearing into the “writing cave.” Do you have an extra room or even attic space you could clear out?
If you have some extra cash lying around, you could, of course, build a shed or cabin in the backyard as your dedicated space, but you can start writing with what you already have on hand. In fact, it might be a good idea to wait until your writing sees some success before investing heavily, just to prove to yourself that you’re serious about it.
If you have to share your space, perhaps you could establish a scheduled time when it’s off limits to the others in your house. Just make sure they understand that unless the house is on fire or someone’s dying, you’re not home.
Some writers (unlike me) are much more social and prefer to be surrounded by people when they write. Maybe a coffee shop or café is your thing. Maybe inspiration hits you and ideas flow when you’re sitting on a park bench people watching.
What kinds of smells, sounds, temperature, or music put you in the right mindset?
What Works for YOU
Almost every interview you see with an author seems to include questions about their writing space, as though I too could become a bestselling author if I could just replicate their setup. But what I’ve noticed is that no two are the same.
I prefer sitting in silence on my bed with my cat, with the window open to let in fresh air.
Some people need loud fast-paced music.
The point is that everyone is different. I’m not Stephen King. You’re not Toni Morrison. And we never will be, no matter what we do. And that’s OK.
Just because what you have to say isn’t the same as what they have to say, it doesn’t mean that your contribution isn’t worthwhile or perhaps even vital.
So, pry yourself out of your rut, try something new, find out what works for you, and set yourself up for success. The world needs your words.
Rebecca has a passion for helping you fill the world with great literature and making sure said literature doesn't get passed over for the lack of a little editing.