Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Writing 101: You, and Your Writing Environment

I've always said that writers have to know how to tune out the world if they're going to get anything done. You have to know how to write in a noisy room, in crowded rooms in a house with pets running around and people underfoot. Your writing environment may be imperfect, but a writer soldiers on. But it has come to my attention recently that you can learn how to shut out the world, ignore those other people at Starbucks, pretend the phone isn't ringing and stay away from Twitter for one more hour...and still struggle in your writing environment. The most important space you will ever work in is your own head space. And if that space isn't right, nothing will be.

Check Your Head

Every book you will ever write is inside your head. You have to pull it out of your brain, word by word, and sometimes it's painful. Sometimes it's difficult. Sometimes you've got phones ringing and stereos blasting and cats screeching. And sometimes, you won't. You could have a perfectly silent room with blank walls and a big desk to write behind with no distractions whatsoever, and you can still be unable to pull those words out of your brain. Because sometimes, it's your own head that's too noisy, and cramped,and cluttered...and messy. This is the writing environment you need to control. And of course, it's the hardest one you'll ever have to control. 

Writers have to be introverts. Even a writer who is naturally outgoing has to learn how to shift focus inward, how to dwell inside the imagination. That's why we have to know how to make the world fade away when you're really into the story you're telling, the world will fade...until it's only you, and the world on the page. At least,that's what happens when things are going the way they should. When your head space is over-crowded, all bets are off. And all words are harder to find.

A book got to me, once. I thought it was the greatest book I had ever written, and would ever write, and maybe it was. No one, however, will read it. Because that book got to me, and it took up all the spare space I had in my head. It made me think about it, about it and nothing else, for much longer than I care to admit. It kept me from writing any other story -- and, my! How I tried -- for an appallingly long time.

And no, to answer the question, I'm not over it yet. I thought about that book yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that and I could go on. I think about that book, but not for long. That's the big trick. I think of it, I feel what I feel, and then I put those thoughts away. I'll give myself a minute, maybe five, but no more. Otherwise, I'll find myself sitting and staring at blank screens again, and I did that for long enough.

Control your head space. Think about what’s bothering you, and then try to put it away so you can get back to the page. You and your writing environment matter very much to each other, so do what you need to do to keep yours uncluttered and easy to work in.

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1 comment:

  1. What's happening to me lately is that I keep thinking about these two characters.Even if I write about someone else,I try to write faster so I can go back to these two,I'm thinking about them if if I'm not writing.It was fun at first,but now I need to snap out of it.
    Based on the description you wrote in the other post,I would love to read your book.