Writing is more than just a case of putting words onto paper, it’s also about the mindset we enter when we create. What contributes to that mindset is the environment we choose to write in.
Years ago I would have argued with anyone about having a dedicated writing space, I would have said something along the lines of “It doesn’t matter where you write, just write!” And part of that is still true, but I do understand the importance of a dedicated writing space for anyone who is considering taking writing seriously.
I can be easily distracted or a sucker for procrastination, concentration only comes to me once I’ve created an atmosphere I can create in. I’ve been consciously trying different spaces over the last year or so, monitoring my creativity levels while I sit and type in various environments, and here’s my opinion:
Writing at home
Amazing! Who wouldn’t want to write in the comfort of their own home? While still wrapped in your dressing gown and sipping a nice cup of tea, possibly with Netflix on in the background? You’ll be comfortable, definitely, but you may need to work on your motivation to make sure you don’t get sidetracked doing other things.
Writing from the sofa/your bed – Cushions, lighting, and comfort. What more do you need, right? But this is risky business, my friends, it is. I find that too much comfort and warmth makes me sleepy. My eyelids feel heavy, my body begins to relax and before I know it I decide it’s time for a nap. Which of course is awesome but not when I have words to pour out onto a screen. I must add that I do spend a great deal of time at home, often writing from my sofa and I have learned that I need to have an element of discomfort to ensure that I focus. So, this means I don’t sit back, I sit upright. Perhaps I leave the window open so I’m not too warm and cosy. Or I sit in a position that isn’t entirely comfortable. You get the idea.
Writing from a desk – If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated writing desk in your home, make sure you don’t get complacent and start loading piles of laundry on it instead (just speaking from personal experience). Keep it free of clutter, near a plug socket and preferably facing a window or in a light part of the room. It helps if you don’t feel trapped or closed in like you can turn around and step out of the zone.
Writing outside the home
Writing in a coffee shop – This can either work well or not at all. I’ve typed away while sat in a quiet coffee shop, where I’ve found a quiet little corner with a plug socket and lots of space. Loyalty cards are an incentive to keep topped up with refreshments, free wi-fi is always an attraction. However, on one occasion I had to leave the coffee shop I was in because it was quite busy. True, it was perhaps the time of day that didn’t help, plus it was also situated on a shopping retail park. I tried plugging in my headphones and listening to my writing playlist, but I didn’t want that too loud and even then, it didn’t quite drown out the
sound of the people sitting near me.
Writing in a pub – Yeah I said it. There’s an awesome pub that I visit a couple of times a month. I always go to the same corner, left of the bar and perched up high, and I plug my laptop in, connect to the free wifi and type away for a few hours. It is relatively quiet during the day and I love to eat the food there, often taking advantage of the daily specials. (Who said writers have to go hungry? Not me.) What I like about this is that the staff remember me and they know where I sit, so I never have to remember my table order or tell them my drinks order (non-alcoholic *btw).
Writing in a library – It has to be said that a library is a magical place. There’s something special about being in the company of so many books. Most libraries have desk spaces or areas that you can sit in peace and write away to your heart’s content. I have two libraries within walking distance of my house, and although they are small, they have space where I could take my laptop and free wi-fi too. The Library of Birmingham is awesome, it has many floors, corners, and amazing views, providing a writer like me with inspiration. The library at the University of Wolverhampton is my main haunt, mostly to complete assignments but I love the different seating areas, desks and, you guessed it, free wi-fi. I think I like it because it is spacious, light and airy. It is quite a calm place and I usually find a stool to sit on and plug my headphones in while I write.
Writing in a park – Picture this: it’s a summer’s day, your children are on the swings, you’re sitting on the bench with a notepad, pen and ice cream. Bliss, right? Being a parent means my children come first, but when inspiration strikes I like to take advantage of it. I can supervise my children while also making notes, writing poetry or planning stories in my notepad, ready for me to pick up and explore further once they’ve gone to bed. I love summer, something about sitting under the sun and feeling the warmth of its rays makes me feel good, so it’s a wonderful opportunity for me to get creative too.
Where’s your writing space? What does it look like? What makes it the perfect writing environment?
Let me know in the comments below!
*by the way.