This is the third of three posts focusing on 8 tips for the writing environment. In order to help you do your best writing, you have to know what it is that helps you focus on the writing.
Temperature, Snacks, & Clutter
Temperature: Pay attention to the temperature of your writing area. If it is too cold, or you get too hot, you will start thinking about your comfort, which interrupts your writing process. I usually need to cool my writing area down or at least get some air flowing. I’m super sensitive to a stuffy atmosphere, and sweat easily. And trust me, when sweat is dripping in your eyes and stinging the heck out of them, you won’t be accomplishing any word counts. I have been called a polar bear by some (yes, I’m looking at you, Hope Collier) because I’m comfortable at temps where others are thinking about putting on a jacket. But an environment that is too cold is just as bad as one that is too hot. If you’re shivering and blowing on your hands and your toes are so cold you can’t think straight — again your word count suffers. What is the right temperature? The one that feels the best to YOU.
Do what you need to, to make your environment comfortable. While most of me is hot most of the time, my toes and fingers easily get cold, so I make sure I have something soft and fuzzy for my feet and in the winter, I use fingerless convertible gloves to keep my hands from getting too chilly.
Snacks: Do you write better with things to eat close to hand or not? Writers on deadline have notoriously bad eating habits because they are working furiously to get the current task done. So often times healthy eating goes by the wayside to be replaced with junk food like Cheetos, chocolate, chips, candy — sweet and salty items that don’t have to be refrigerated, can be kept on hand by the bagful to allow the butt to stay in the chair long enough to accomplish what needs to be done. A friend of mine, Branli Caidryn, shared the neat little trick of eating cheesy snacks with chopsticks to keep the cheese dust off the fingers and keyboard.
I am definitely not recommending the above snacks as normal fare. It is much better to keep some healthy snacks on hand, or maybe even better yet, take snack breaks to get up and stretch and get away for a moment to rejuvenate and refresh. I like to write with a big mug of tea to the right of my keyboard, within easy reach, so I don’t have to think about where the mug is, but can just grab it while I am thinking. And in my office, I keep a small refrigerator, a portable kitchen island, and a tea kettle.
Clutter: Is your writing area well organized? Some people believe an uncluttered leads to an uncluttered mind, but I have always liked this quote by Albert Einstein: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Some people like to have toys around to help them in the creative process. I like to have a few familiar things around me as a stark writing area for me creates a blank mind rather than an uncluttered one. And while I start with a neat desk, throughout the writing process, more clutter accumulates, and then I purge once again. It’s cyclical. (And no, that is not a picture of my desk.) 😀
By the way, all of the these tips are also good for creating a good environment for doing homework as well.