The work environment of a writer is diverse and unique to the individual. While you may not realize it, there are a lot of factors that go in to a work environment. In this article I am going to touch on a few such factors and experiences of a writer and discuss my personal views/choices for each.
Every writer/author is different when it comes to the whole music question. I know Patrick Rothfuss, author of the Kingkiller Chronicle, is an adamant backer for the idea of complete silence as he writes. Any noise of any kind is entirely detrimental to the writing and it’ll only serve as a distraction at best or influence the tone of your writing at the worst. How can you write a tender love scene if you have rock and roll, heavy metal music playing in the background?
Then there’s the other half, those, like me, who like to have the inspiring flows of sound and music weave through the air as they write and create. This music can be stimulating, providing the perfect pitch of loose cognitive ability, inspiring while not influencing. That’s not to say if the track-list stops I’m going to stop writing to find a new song. Usually I plug along for another hour or until I finish the scene, the lingering musical effects still working their magic.
Personally, I listen to a lot of movie soundtracks or ambient music while I write. This gives me the best mixture of sounds to stimulate my writing. It’s better if you mix it up and try out new music until you find what works for you – Pandora is a godsend for this.
Musical Choice – Inception Soundtrack on Pandora, Explosions in the Sky
Location, Location, Location
Being a writer has a certain number of perks that go with it. Perhaps the best known is the fact that we are beholden to no one but the publisher and ourselves. There is no 7 a.m alarm clock, set to drill into our skulls and prepare us for a day at the office, in a cubicle, at a desk. (Unless you work a full-time job in order to support your writing, there’s nothing wrong with that).
Instead, writers are perhaps an infamous bunch for staying up writing into the early hours of the morning, the dim glow of a computer monitor a solitary companion as you write your way through the first draft of a manuscript. Waking up at 2 in the afternoon and starting your day over again while all your friends are going to lunch already.
Just as with music it’s important to find the perfect writing location that fits your needs. Whoever designed the cubicle layout wasn’t a crazy, vindictive person – or maybe he was, I don’t know the guy – rather it’s the perfect layout for that kind of work, it’s efficient.
Where will your “cubicle” be as a writer? A favorite couch while Law and Order plays in the background (not very good if you want to get work done, trust me). In your bed as you wake up? (not too bad as that is exactly where I am as I write this post). Or at a desk in your house with a nice view and any tools or supplies you need arranged around you.
Finding the perfect spot to write is important, nothing beats curling up on the couch with Pandora on and setting into the long haul of bringing your characters and story to life.
Top 3 Location Picks (no particular order)
- At my desk that sits in front of a big window with my notebooks and reference books stacked around me
- Outside on a picnic table in my backyard, the sound of nature my only companion
- On the couch in the living room, curled up and a short walk to the fridge for ‘motivational snacks’
What to do when you’re stuck
Writer’s Block. The bane of the creative world.
It can strike at the worst possible time, and more often than not it does, putting the brakes on your creative output sometimes for days on end. I don’t know if there is any rhyme or reason to it but when it hits, it hits hard.
There has been stretches for me personally where I am writing a crazy amount for days on end, the inspiration well seemingly endless, and their is no slowing me down. Then, I realize a character wouldn’t do the thing he’s outlined to do, or there’s a hiccough in my continuity/worldbuilding. And that’s it my 2,000+ word count days are done and I’m stuck in writer’s limbo as I work to resolve the issue.
For me, writer’s block has come at each of the stages in writing – outline, writing, revisions. It’s felt more strongly in the first two stages, while in the third it seems to pass more quickly.
While there’s no cure for the block, cue applause for catchy new name, there are a number of ways to combat it.
Combating the Block
- Walk Away, Literally – For me one of the best things I can do is get up from my computer and leave it alone. Take my dog for a walk or play a little basketball. Anything to get my mind off of the writing and whatever problem I’m having. Tumblr and StumbleUpon are amazing websites for this. Little do you realize but your subconscious is still working on the problem and whether if it’s when you sit back down to write, or in the midst of your brain recharge, the answer will flow a lot more smoothly.
- Research – Sometimes, depending on the source of the block, I found that doing research will not only help fight against the block, it can also help spawn a whole host of new ideas. If a particular point in your worldbuilding is giving you trouble, switch over to google or wikipedia and do a quick search. I once spent two hours rolling around researching ancient forms of currency and the economic switches to banks and bank notes. Not only did it help solve my initial problem but I learned so many new tidbits of information that I had a host of new worldbuilding ideas to help combat further cases of the block.
- Skip It – This method doesn’t apply to every writer. For me it isn’t so much of a big deal. If a particular scene or chapter is giving you issues just go on past it. Due to the fact that I outline so much of my book in advance, I don’t really have an issue going ahead to some other point in the book and writing that while I think about the problem that made me switch in the first place. “Gardeners” won’t really be able to take advantage of this method as much as “Architects” but it can still be a viable option if your willing to try.
There are a lot of perks to being a writer. Our work environment being one of those that stands at the top of the list. Being a creative person professionally affords us a lot of allowances in exchange for the humdrum of cubicle life. This is only a short list that barely manages to touch the surface of the world of a writer. I may expand on these topics and more in the upcoming weeks but this should be a satisfying start to a look in the life of a writer.