Optimizing Your Writing Space

img_7254

As a creative writer, there are many layers to your work. There’s the actual writing process, and there’s your writing place.  Today, I’m going to talk about how I optimize my writing space and give you ideas on how you can optimize your own.

Where do you like to write, and how do you optimize your space?

My Creative Space

I like to go to a coffee shop on Sunday afternoons to work on my classes.  It feels good to get out.  On my walk there, I can think about whatever comes to mind.  I like the coffee there, they have free wifi, they have outlets so I can plug in my computer, and they have treats if I get hungry.  Oh yeah, this place is Starbucks.  Because while I enjoy supporting my local independent shops, this is just the best place in the area to work.

The one thing I can’t stand at this Starbucks is the music that they blast LOUDLY in the store. It’s mostly awful with an ok song thrown in once in a while.

So, I have a Spotify account, and comfortable headphones, and I write/work to loud 80’s music and sometimes hip-hop or rap.  This puts me in a good place where I can mentally focus and enjoy the process.  There may be some secret dancing thrown in for good measure.

Now that I’ve learned that I like to have headphones on while writing, I’m transferring this trick to my work at home.  When it’s Tuesday night and I’m grading papers, I can pour a glass of wine or pop up a cold club soda, put on my headphones, and get engaged in a really good grading zone, where I’m enjoying learning from my students and giving them quality feedback.

Creative Writing Teachers

Creative writing teachers, what can you take from this for your students?  I know that I have some students who are barely comfortable doing an in-class brainstorming exercise, but that they’ll do it if they know that they don’t have to share.  How can you encourage your students to find a comfortable writing place in class or out of class?

Your Optimal Writing Space

What’s your preferred writing environment?  If you don’t have one yet, I think you should try a few different ones.  Try different seats (couch, bed, desk chair?), different places (living room, office, coffee shop), different types of music or none at all.  Think about how you feel in each space, how much you enjoy or dislike the writing process in the different spaces, and look for the common denominators.

Journal about what you currently do that works or journal about your discovery process.

A Caveat

Don’t let the “lack” of the “perfect” writing space stop you from writing. Your writing has value, and you can write from almost anywhere.  You don’t need the perfect song or the ultimate desk–those are just tools to help you.

Exercise as Self Expression

img_7022-1This morning, I had an insight that I decided to share here.

I’ve been experimenting with Qi Gong, thanks to a friend at work.  Qi Gong is an exercise I enjoy.  The moves are simple. It feels good.   And it’s helping me feel more grounded.

Perhaps because Qi Gong is new to me, it feels more mentally engaging that yoga, where I tend to worry more whether or not I’m doing it right…and if I’m going to get corrected.

Qi Gong helps me feel like I am in my body.  My feet on the ground. My hands scooping up energy.  My arms punching out and pulling in.

Qi Gong for me is a form of self expression.  Me, expressing myself, through the movements of my body.

Feeling the movements and not trying to escape from them.

I think that exercise became something physically painful to me in junior high school.  From then on, even when I really wanted to enjoy it, exercise was not about self expression.  Exercise was other things: punishment, pain, inadequacy, something to escape from, a competition, something to get over, something to avoid, a way to take up less space in the world.

It’s hard to express yourself through exercise when your mind is focused on just one thing: WHEN IS IT GOING TO BE OVER?!

For me, I can’t be in my body when I’m trying to escape from it.  So, running never worked for me because I could never be in my body when the exercise was so physically and emotionally painful for me. I would mentally disconnect or just not do it.   On the other hand, I have a student who loves to run.  It clears her mind, and it makes her feel invigorated and ready to take on the day.

Thinking back, there are some forms of movement that I enjoyed as a child or that I enjoy now. When I was young, I loved gymnastics and playing on the bars at recess and at home. I also loved the freedom of riding my bike and enjoyed the roller skating rink. When I was eighteen, I loved going to local dance clubs.

As an adult now, I enjoy walking.  I can walk with friends or by myself.  Walking has choices.  Walking feels good.  I can observe life as I walk.   I can walk slow or fast.  Walking is not a competition, and there’s not a trainer or teacher who wants to correct my walking moves. Walking is just another way to BE.

Interested in Qi Gong?  I like this video, and there are many more choices on YouTube.

Journal, if you choose: does thinking about exercise as a way of expressing yourself change your relationship with it?  Is there a form of movement that you really enjoy, and if so, what is it?  Why do you think you enjoy it?

Through a Glass of Chardonnay

chardonnay window

If creativity is seeing things in a new way, what do you see when you look through a glass of chardonnay, sparkling water, or lemon-lime soda?

If you choose, journal about what you see when you look at a scene through two layers of glass.  If there are bubbles involved, how does it change your view?

Here, I was fascinated by the fact that I could see the scene through my glass of wine and that I could see the people on the beach watching the sunset.

And because I like choices, you could also consider these journaling prompts:

  • Take a series of photographs through different windows.  Describe the view from both sides of the window.
  • Journal how you feel before and after that first glass of chardonnay.  How do your perceptions change?  I’m going to link to an experiment that a photographer did with this friends on this topic.

 

 

 

That Stubborn Feeling

b62f35f5-86c2-4f2b-b275-cf912d06aac4-41173-00002a8887a8695fFor this Saturday’s self expression, I encourage you to take your journal and work out strategies you can use when you get stuck in your writing process.

I feel like we probably all have different strategies that helps us.  You can read mine from my journal and then work on your own. (Feel free to enlarge the photo so that you can see the entire image. I will work on creating clickable images of my journal pages so that they self-enlarge in the future!)

These are great to have on hand when we need them!

If you choose, you can also explore these journaling ideas:

  • Why do you sometimes feel stubborn about working on your writing projects?
  • Write about a time you got unstuck.  What did you do?
  • Write about a time when you helped a friend or child work through writer’s block.