I have been asked numerous times what the ‘perfect’ writing condition is. In other words, what is my secret to getting deeply in flow so the words pour out of me?
Well, you may already realize that getting into the writing zone, so to speak, has to do with how you manage two essential things:
- Your environment
- Your mindset
In this blog, I’ll help you to set up your physical environment to optimize your writing time. I’ll write about how you prepare yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually in a later article.
So, walk with me step-by-step as we design your ideal writing environment so you can then go and create – AND ENJOY – it!
Your Book Is A Product of Your Environment
Your physical environment consists of many aspects. The first of these is related to your physical body – since it is the environment you exist in every day. The more you take care of yourself physically, the more present you will be to write. Without your body, there is no book.
So, here is a very simple checklist to follow to help you take care of your body while you write.
These might sound silly or simple to you, but they are all important aspects to consider as they can interfere with your creative process if left unattended to – and you don’t want to hurt your body while writing.
I laugh at that, because it makes it sound like writing is an extreme sport, but hey, don’t underestimate the power of a supportive chair for your back in the short and long term. It goes without saying that if one or two of the following are missing for you; it might be wise to take care of them as they will likely distract you from writing.
- Am I warm enough?
- Am I cool enough?
- Am I sitting comfortably?
- Am I breathing deeply?
- Am I exhausted?
- Am I hungry?
- Am I thirsty?
- Is the chair I’m on supportive enough?
- Am I sick or well?
- Are my clothes comfortable to write in?
WHERE I WRITE
The next component to examine when setting up the perfect physical environment to write in literally relates to your physical location. This applies on many scales from macro to the micro, and paying attention to this may actually provide the inspiration you need to become a powerhouse with words.
First of all, let’s talk about where you are on a smaller scale. What I mean by this is what room of the house you are in. Are you in the room that is most conducive to writing? Can you work there for hours? You will find that your own home will have rooms and places within those rooms that aid or hinder the creative flow.
Take a moment to walk through your house or apartment and take note of which ones these are. It might be your office, your sunroom, your bedroom, your den, your lounge room, or hey, even your kitchen. I’m not one to judge! Just make an observation about which ones feel better for writing the book.
Next, it’s wise to consider that your own home space may not be your preferred writing environment. You might be the kind of person who likes to take their laptop to a café or library and produce your masterpiece there – and not just for the sake of looking cool at Starbucks (!), but because being in and around other people that you don’t know actually assists you.
I know that I personally can feel quite connected to my readers when there are people all around me like in a café. It does actually, in my case, assist the writing process, as I tend to feel even more alive.
Now, I am relatively flexible when it comes to where I sit and write. I can work for hours in an airport, on an airplane, on a couch, at a desk, in a café, in Canada or Australia. I don’t have to be in my own home to pump out words. In fact, sometimes it suits the book better if I’m not. It all depends what I am working on; some books call to be written on-the-go and some in one go. What works best for you?
THE ROOM I’M IN
It’s time to pay attention to what room you are specifically sitting in.
- Is it too crowded?
- Is it too light?
- Is it too dark?
- Is it too messy?
- Is it too clean?
- Are there too many or not enough people around you?
You might explore every room of your home until you find the sweet spot – and then get into your groove when you are there. Make it your zone for book production.
There are a series of other elements to consider when setting up the perfect physical writing environment. Forgive me if I have missed some, as there will certainly be different ones for different writers.
Naturally, we are all different in personality and preferences, and therefore what aids us to get in the zone will vary greatly from person to person.
Many people, like myself, adore the experience of writing to music. I am becoming more well-known for my habit of listening to high energy trance music (more like house or progressive trance than hard-core disco) while producing manuscripts. In fact, trance music is my favourite music style of all; I think because it is faster and it stimulates my mind. There’s no doubt it is sometimes a spiritual experience; which is quite possibly why I love it because I am highly invested in my own self-growth and spirituality.
Do you write to music? If so, which music?
The tunes you choose can play a very influential role in how the words land on the page. I’ve known authors to write novels to dramatic music, and others to write to peace out to classical and relax while producing their book.
You can either choose a music that inspires you (my personal suggestion), or you can actively choose a style of music that will help you to write that particular stage of your manuscript e.g. choose rock music when you want to get a message across powerfully, or romantic music when tuning in to the ‘feelings’ in a story.
I quickly learned in my live writing trainings that many people simply prefer the sweet sound of silence (and that few of my participants enjoy trance the way I do!) when writing. If this is you, then bear in mind that you will need to set up your environment to be conducive with this.
Write when the kids are at school, when everyone is asleep at night, on your days off, or while tucked away in a log cabin in the Rocky Mountains. Do whatever it takes to get the silence you need: it might just be the key to your golden words.
- Social Interaction
It sounds crazy to think that you can be social and write at the same time… but it’s true! As a writer, I thrive off the connection I have with the people around me; the people who are going to be reading the book. And so, I make a conscious effort to stay connected to people while I am writing, as I know it greatly assists my creative process.
Sometimes this is as simple as writing while on an airplane with people all around me (guess where I’m writing right now) or taking a few hours out at a café to write a chapter. Or, posting on social media platforms and sharing the journey. Other times, I will (shock horror) chat to friends or clients online during weekend writing sessions, updating them on my progress and sharing parts of the book.
Observe now whether you require social interaction around you while writing – the comforting, sometimes inspiring energy of people – in order to spur you on.
- Time of Day
The time of day when you write may also have an influence on how deeply you get ‘into the zone’ when working on your book. Some people are naturally night owls, and so they can commonly be found producing their content until the wee hours of the morning – long after everyone else has gone to bed. I personally relate to this, as there are few things I adore more than a good late night writing session, often while listening to great music. Other people are morning people and so prefer to work on their manuscripts as soon as they wake up in the morning. Identify which time of day is the most optimal for you in writing your book.
By jotting down your preferences for each of the above elements of your physical environment, you can reflect on, identify, and then document YOUR ideal writing space!
I look forward to hearing what you discover!