Isn’t it funny (at times) how some think that because you have a creative career, there’s never any planning or method to the process? Though a lot of an artist’s life is free-flowing, knowing how and where we work best is important to maintaining a rhythm and growing a gift from hobby to career.
I’ve experienced song and article writing as on-the-spot assignments, and though I got through them, it’s fair to say that’s not my favourite way of working when it comes to writing. That said, painting for a real-time art competition was completely enjoyable, without an ounce of felt pressure despite the ticking timer. A lot different from writing four songs in one day.
While an ideal environment doesn’t guarantee a flawless composition, it can influence the creative clarity and fluency of a writer’s flow. Idea droughts, readability hiccups and moments of frustration can happen from time to time along the writing road, but there are some steps we can take and moves we can make to design an environment that’s conducive to creativity.
Here are some things to consider when Setting The Scene For Your Writing Journey
- ambience – what amount of space/ ventilation and type of visuals or wall colour/s combine to make a creative environment that suits you? One where you can focus and make progress in the writing process. Flowers and plants don’t generate words, but they do soften and brighten a room.
- a clean workspace – a ‘dutty’ desk is no fun to work on and leaves little elbow room or space for a glass of water, hot drink or health shake. I find taking time to make things neat and organized usually ends up as a satisfied breath and a refreshed mind that’s well-poised for writing, typing or making necessary notes.
- sound – even silence has a frequency; whether the stillness makes you aware of your breathing, an occasional passing car, the steady whir of your laptop’s internal fan or the distant hum of a fridge/air conditioner. The nature of what you’re writing can make a difference in your (and my) tolerance of the volume of the sounds around. While sound is crucial the songwriting process (usually with purposeful pauses in between), it can be a distraction for someone working on their thesis. Determine what works well for you. How much focus, research or editing is needed and how much (realistically and effectively) can you concentrate in different environments? What sound/s and how much volume? Peaceful instrumental music set to low or strictly birdsongs in the background? Tip: Set non-priority (potentially-distracting) phone notifications off and select a space with minimal foot traffic (unless of course, you’re tending to your toddler or little ones.)
- lighting – Squinting may look cool for characters on an action or western movie poster, but it’s hard on the eyes over any length of time. Make sure you have adequate lighting in your writing room and rest your eyes from screen-staring marathons.
- posture and position – this really should be higher up on the list. I’m constantly coaching on breathing and posture. Writing can be a sedentary lifestyle so well-paced movement and variation in position are important. Standing desks (and sofas, yes) are handy for writing in short stints. Sometimes I blog (or edit) on my feet at the kitchen counter. Still, nothing beats stretching when it comes to posture. Purposefully scanning our posture at different points during the day and re-aligning the body by doing things like: reaching for the ceiling (right side then left), holding a flat-back with an open-arms position for a few moments, some slow neck rolls, floppy-arm torso twists and shoulder rolls (3 back – 3 forward.)
- temperature – it’s tough to write for a long time while ‘sweatin’ bricks’ or chattering teeth from the freezing cold.
- state of mind – the mind is the first workspace. As we de-clutter our rooms, let’s tend to our thought life with care. It is a creative garden that needs healthy food. That means thoughts (or lies) like, “I’ll never get this done” or “this is impossible” will need to be stamped out, swept away briskly and taken off the guest list on your mind’s playlist.
This is your writing journey, not mine – so design a space that works well to get you in the write mode, inspires you to enjoy the journey and keep that flow ’til you reach the destination. Creativity isn’t defined by or confined to rooms but finding or designing beautiful spaces where writing springs onto paper or screen can make a difference in the day of a writer.
In case you missed it the first time: while an ideal environment doesn’t guarantee a flawless composition, it can influence the creative clarity and fluency of a writer’s flow.
Here’s a blog post with a desk tour. Let me know if you’d like an updated one; I’ve moved since then and am in the process of re-decorating the new writing & vlog studio room.
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