Writing Space

The space in which I write is, generally, very important. I find that under certain conditions, I just can’t produce very well — and given that what I do happens only as a result of my own self-motivation, finding ways to make that as efficient as possible, as doable as possible, is vital.

Your workspace determines the physical methods of your writing. It concerns the resources you have at your disposal, but also the distractions that may hinder you. At some level, it probably effects what you write. And while it’s likely that much of how a certain space affects your writing is “only in your head”, there’s no doubt that psychology is real and powerful.

This is my primary workspace, in my room. This is where I read blogs, post my blogs, communicate with friends and peers, type my writing, and basically run my life. When I get up in the morning, my first step is to turn on the computer. Then I put on water for tea, and then I sit down to begin my day in front of 1280×800 pixels.

In this space I’m also surrounded by books. This has obvious potential psychological effects, given my work — inspiration, perhaps, or at least getting me in the midnset of the written word. But most of those books are also my resources: books on writing, books on mythology and history and religion, books of quotations, even some books of poetry.

There’s a window, both to stare out as I’m thinking over ideas in my head, and for all-important temperature regulation. Since it’s the room I sleep in, it can get stuffy at times. But I also find it strangely impossible to write if I’m at all cold. Fingers are sliggish on the keys, and I just can’t concentrate.

My bed is just out of frame, and I’ll sit there to read, ot sometimes to write, or just to think. Sometimes I just use it as a surface on which to spread notes.

There’s a second computer on my desk right now. I’ve been working on a project that involves a lot of internet windows, and being logged into multiple accounts at once, so I find it somewhat useful as more workspace. I have a feeling it has greater effect making me feel special for having two computers than it does actually helping me work, but maybe that’s important, too.

Of course my computer is full of important resources: music, which I change depending on what I’m doing (soundtrack playlists to evoke mood, energetic or depressing music depending on my own mood, and recently I’ve found that sometimes I really just need silence); word processing, picture editing, and map-making programs; email, twitter and IM to keep me connected; and all the resources that the Internet has to offer, for all the research and planning and inspiration-seeking I may do.

Every one of those things is important to my work at various times. But interestingly, this isn’t where I do the majority of my actual writing, of putting words on paper.

This is my secondary workplace, at the Starbucks I used to work for, down the street. When I’m actually trying to put words on a page, I find it far easier to do so here.

Fuel — food and caffeine — is at my disposal. If I need distraction, I can just watch people around me — but the distractions of minesweeper and the Internet, which always pull at my attention, are absent. The temperature is generally agreeable, though I bring an extra sweater in case I get cold. For some reason, I also find the white noise of a coffee ship far more condusive to writing than the silence or music of my room.

I’m confident that part of it, too, is psychological, because going to Starbucks to write is a forced change of routine. It forces me out of the rut of staring at my screen playing freecell and gives me no other option than to write. I get up in the morning, do my morning routine, read my blogs, and then I need something to push me to the next stage of the day, when I actually get stuff done. If I don’t, I find myself often stuck in a weird limbo of not being able to motivate myself to actually work.

The journey to Starbucks — packing up the supplies I’ll need and taking the 7-minute walk — is also a time in which I’m thinking about what to write. My mind has nothing else to do, so I start composing in my head, and — by the time I have my coffee and sit down — I can immediately start putting words on the page.

Finally, for some reason, I’ve always found it easier to compose on paper rather than a computer. Sitting in Starbucks forces me to do just that.

And so I go there, with a specific writing goal in mind. Once I’ve accomplished that, I can head home again for the afternoon — I may get more writing done in my primary workspace, or maybe I’ll just type up what I wrote that morning. Or I’ll do housework, or surf the Internet for research or inspiration.

I use different work spaces for different purposes, but ultimately, it’s the combination of the two that lets me be the most productive.

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