Every writer is different when it comes to the best writing setup to get the creative juices flowing. Personally, I need absolute silence: no music, no television, and preferably, nobody in the house that can interrupt me. Everyone is different, however. Here are my suggestions for setting up the perfect writing spot:
- How good are you at tuning people out? If you’re great at this, you’ll do fine somewhere like a coffee shop or local library. If you’re easily distracted by the activity around you, you’ll want to work somewhere more isolated, like a basement or a locked room.
- Does music inspire or distract you? I have one friend who insists on blasting the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar while she writes. Personally, I think she’s nuts. How can you write when you’re listening to Ted Neeley nail that G above high C? I’ve tried having music playing softly in the background. I inevitably find myself ignoring my story to sing along (and, I’ll admit, I don’t often get the lyrics quite right). Some people prefer background music as they type out the Great American Novel. I am not one of these people.
- Turn off the social media. Across the board, every author I know cites social media as the biggest distraction when trying to write. Log off of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Tinder, and all those other pesky sites when you’re writing. The world will not end if you miss the latest political meme on Distractify. (It’s called that for a reason, folks. Don’t let them win.)
- Turn off the television. Don’t try to justify it as background noise. It will quickly become a distraction. I have seen more than one writer claim that they just put on random shows for “background noise,” only to find themselves binge-watching all thirteen seasons of NCIS.
- Bring food and beverages with you. Wherever you settle down to write, bring any supplies you might need with you to your writing session. I’ve found it’s easy to lose your train of thought if you’re hungry, for example. I’ve had more than one story go off the rails when the main character started thinking about how she’d really like a Double Stuf Oreo right in the middle of the action.
- Let the people who are most likely to interrupt you know that you are not to be interrupted unless it is an emergency, and stick to it. “Where are my socks?” is not an emergency. Tell your spouse, kids, parents, siblings, and the mailman that you are unavailable for a good chunk of time. It’s very easy to get derailed by unimportant missing sock crises.
These tips should give you a good start when setting up your perfect writing environment. But remember: everyone is different. I know one author who gets most of his writing done sitting in his car (it’s the only place he can go where nobody will bother him).
What’s your perfect writing environment? Give your suggestions in the comments below!
Stacey Longo is the author of Ordinary Boy (nominated for a Pushcart Prize) and Secret Things: Twelve Tales to Terrify. Her YA horror novel My Sister the Zombie is due out in 2016. Her stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, including Shroud, Shock Totem, and the Litchfield Literary Review.
She is a past Hiram Award winner, and was a featured author on the 2014 Connecticut Authors Trail. A former humor columnist for the Block Island Times, she maintains a weekly humor blog at www.staceylongo.com.