I have many people ask me about my writing environment. It seems to be a hot topic question for many people I run into. There is no right or wrong way to set up your own writing environment but I can say, the environment does play into your writing process and can contribute to writer’s block.
Many say that you need to write everyday. Make it a habit. For something to be a habit, you should probably have a few places to actually write where you feel the most comfortable. But giving tips is not what this post is about. It’s to tell you a little more about me by examining the writing environment.
My writing environment has become anywhere there is a computer or pen and paper that gives me the head space to think comfortably. This comes from a long life of shifting places. Most of the time, I set up in my bedroom on my bed. But if given the chance, I can write anywhere. For example, I am writing this post from my chiropractor’s office as I wait.
There are a few important things to help me stay focused and do my best writing. Best writing means my most creative or ongoing stints. From this office, I can chug out 1000 words relatively quickly but really, I am only putting these thoughts down on paper.
When I am writing a novel or have to do an informative piece and need to figure out wording or where to go, I tend to need other things by my side. Previously, I needed caffeine. My drink of choice used to be Dr. Pepper. But now I only drink Caffeine Free Dr Pepper, which still serves the same purpose. It must be cold or on so much ice that by the time I finish, I’m drinking flavored water. And my potato chip budget goes out the window. The max I have ever eaten in one sitting is two bags in one sitting but that was a good 10 hour writing session.
There are other parts to my environment. I don’t know about you, but I tend to get distracted if i haven’t come up with my own distraction. I can’t write if it’s completely silent. Never good for me. Some people need complete quiet. But that’s not my brand of writing. I require noise and most of the time, a very specific kind of noise.
Here, there will always be kids in the background. That’s not the noise I need. Somehow and for some reason I can’t explain, I need crime procedural shows playing in the background somehow. For my first fiction novel, I watched Castle to write. And I thought there might be a connection to the kooky writer in the show. But I have come to find that certain other shows work. The Closer, Major Crimes, Leverage, Law & Order, Law & Order Criminal Intent…and others don’t work. I can’t write to Blue Bloods to save my life. Not sure why. NCIS, Bull or others don’t work either. I can’t explain it. Somehow those shows just kick off that part of my brain and keep it going.
So a computer with my drink and snack (sometimes chocolate or cupcakes. Gees, when I write, I am far from healthy and taking care of myself), my crime show and a computer. Some people swear by outlines and notebooks full of notes, but I don’t use those very well. It’s all up here in my head and I keep track of most of it that way too. If I had a series stretching longer than three books or so, I’d probably have handwritten consistency notes, like J.K. Rowling did with her awesome best-selling series. But I haven’t reached that point yet.
As far as non-fiction and staying focused, I don’t have trouble with that. I like to write and learn new things. If I am doing someone else’s story either through ghostwriting or the work they can’t seem to get down on paper, I find having an audio recording useful. However, the crime show is still on in the background even plugged into my headphones transcribing the recording.
So, writing environment is subjective to how you write – so just go do it!