Energy Hacks: Creating A Writing Atmosphere
One of the reasons writing first attracted me as a teen was how minimalistic it is. You don’t need any expensive tools, training, or an elaborate setup. You can write on a computer, tablet, phone, or a pen-and-paper notebook--there are no rules, and the flexibility is boundless. This means that little to no setup is actually needed to get the full writing experience.
But what if writing is more than a hobby to you? If you're writing long-term, especially if you want to earn a full-time profit from self-publishing your own books, there are things you need to look out for. Sitting at a desk typing for hours is not exactly good for your health. You'll probably experience mental fatigue as well. The more you try to focus, the more you’ll have to deal with mounting distractions and restlessness, and before you know it, you’ll be less productive than the days when you struggled to find the time to write at all.
It’s a good question to ask: why is writing as a hobby easier than writing full time for so many people? And what can be done about it?
Emphasis on Ambience
First is creating an emphasis on the atmosphere in your workplace--beating distraction and fatigue of the mind. Even if you love what you do, it's hard to stay focused over a prolonged period of time. That gets worse when you're doing the same thing every single day. You start to feel the repetition. Your mind starts to wander, and before you know it, you'll find yourself staring into space and wondering whether cats ever get bored. At the end of the day, you'll realize that you've hardly completed any work and only written a few hundred words, even if you usually consider yourself a fast writer.
This is a troubling conundrum and one that pretty much all full-time writers face sooner or later. One way to fix it is to treat your work more like, well, a job. Set up an office space. Get dressed up. Drop the illusion that you'd be just as productive in your pajamas as you would in casual work clothes. The truth is that if you take your writing seriously, you need to show it. That will trick your mind into prioritizing your writing as important work instead of like an ongoing vacation.
But what if turning your writing career into a standard office job really isn't your style? Well, there's still a lot you can do to help set up an ambient and productive atmosphere. Listening to a groovy soundtrack can do wonders to keep some minds focused. If music distracts you more than it helps, then try listening to an online noise generator. There are noise generators for everything, from busy cafes to nature sounds to rhythmic drumming to cats purring, and often these background noises can relax the atmosphere while keeping you focused by blocking out other distracting sounds. I use mynoise.net myself when I work so that my own office space feels less claustrophobic and more relaxed. I've learned that listening to calming outdoor sounds is often more helpful than favorite songs when I'm trying to focus.
Emphasis on Health
Health also becomes a big deal if you're looking into writing long-term. Too much typing can lead to repetitive strain injuries or carpal tunnel, not to mention the ongoing back and neck pain that can easily crop up. For that reason, you should make sure that you have a keyboard that you're comfortable typing on and an appropriate setup for your computer and mouse as well. Make sure your neck is that a good angle and not constantly bent down by looking at the screen.
Some writers like to dictate their work. Dictation technology has come a long way in recent years, and even free dictation software (like Google’s Voice Typing) is accurate enough to allow you to step back and take your fingers from the keyboard almost entirely. Speaking also much faster than standard typing and can save you a lot of time if you’re trying to meet a quota. I use dictation if my wrists need a break, but if I use it too often, I start to miss the ability to listen to music or nature sounds while I work.
As with any desk job, it's important to remember to get up and move around every so often while you work. I space out a few short workouts through my work day, but it's possible to get more creative than that. One writer I know uses a stand-up walking desk so that she can get her work out while writing. These desks cost a bit and don't go more than one or two miles an hour (a bit slower than your standard walking speed), but getting a walking desk a good way to keep your blood flowing while you work.
Other touches you might want to consider are a yoga ball chair, a natural sunlight lamp (especially if your office is as dark as mine), or even turning on the blue light filter of your computer. Many desktops and laptops now have this option.
Your Own Setup
Everyone has different needs when it comes to a productive writing atmosphere. Whether you prefer the look and feel of a clean-cut office space or a relaxed natural ambiance, take note of what helps you feel more relaxed, energized, and focused for long term work. Mix and match some of the strategies above or read up on others to get your perfect mix.
How do you like to write? Have you discovered a key aspect of creating a writing atmosphere I haven’t mentioned? Please share in the comments below and keep the discussion going.