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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Is Your Workspace Killing Your Creativity? Eight Tips to Get the Muse Back

When I was a little girl, I wrote anywhere I could. I lived back in the dark ages, so there was no computer with which to create my stories on and the only typewriter was in my dad’s home office where we weren’t allowed unless something was on fire or bleeding. A notebook and pencil were my faithful tools. I wrote when commuting to elementary school on the train, wrote at the kitchen table while Mom made dinner, and on nice days, wrote outside underneath the trellis in our back yard.

Now, a full-time author and workshop instructor, I have my own laptop. I also have a work space set up in the home office. Well, I did, up until three months ago when my eldest came back to live and gained my office (her old bedroom) once again. After this change, I had to set up on the end of the dining room table. While that was an adjustment due to having to move a lot of my writing gear (desk calendar, notebooks, notes, etc.) down stairs, the experience has taught me a lot.

At first having a new work place increased my writing. I chalk that up to the view from the dining room windows. Who wouldn’t be inspired by a butterfly bush with delicate purple blooms and a colorful butterfly stopping by every hour?

But after a month I was back to spending more time on Facebook than actually writing. Writers block? No, because I don’t believe in that. However, I do believe there are things that keep us from productivity and steps that we can take to avoid or deal with any form of lack of creativity that can come our way.

1) First, make sure your desk is in a comfortable location. This doesn’t mean it has to be in a posh office, it just has to be accommodating to you. The chair has to feel right and the desk able to hold your computer or stack of books, resources and other paraphernalia.

2) Think about clutter and distractions. Everyone is different. Sometimes the messiest desks belong to the most prolific. However, if your desk is piled too high and it takes you twenty minutes to find anything, then the clutter distracts from your work. Spend a day cleaning up to create a workable environment. Place necessary items needed every day like a desk calendar to your left or right.

3) Take a walk. Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Wallace Stevens, walked over two miles to his office each day. During that time he composed poetry, claiming, "I write best when I can concentrate, and do that best while walking."

4) Put on music. I like Celtic music without words so as not to distract me when I write my novels. But on bleak days when I need energy, U2 gets me going. With or Without You.

5) Head out to a coffee shop. Get there before the lunch crowd so that you can chose a table removed from a busy counter.

6) Find a secluded park bench. This works best when the weather is ideal, like a day in the spring or fall. Don’t neglect what the outdoors can do for your writing. D. H. Lawrence called trees “living company” and preferred to write beneath their shade.

7) Mix it up a bit. If you normally use a computer, spend some time writing by hand and vice versa.

8) Know thyself! Know when it is time to get up and get moving to a different room, a new view or a new place. Ask yourself the important questions: Am I too distracted or lacking when I sit here? What can I do differently so that I can be productive? Know what you need and make sure you get the most out of your writing hours.

Try these tips to enhance your work space and watch how that demon known as writers block is erased like an over-used adjective.

Alice J. Wisler dreams of writing in a woodsy cabin with multiple windows. She is the author of five novels with a new one on the way next year, and the grief and loss devotional, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache. She teaches writing workshops both online and at conferences. Read more about her workshops here:


Bisi said...

Thanks for the reminder!!

alice wisler said...

Welcome! Keep writing!

Marjorie Hill said...

Thanks for the tips.
Marge Hill

alice wisler said...

Thank you for reading, Marge!

Jane Foard Thompson said...

I'm a piler, so I'm still trying to figure out how to keep the clutter down. When I stop and take the time to organize and file everything, I forget where it is, or that I even have it! Perhaps I should just bring in the recycling tub and clear it all out?

alice wisler said...

I, too, am guilty of creating paper piles here and there. I feel your pain, Jane! :-)