“Oh, I would totally write if I ever had the time,” said many non-writers.
That’s why I call them non-writers.
“Ho hum, I have nothing else to do with my life so I’ll write a book,” said no writer ever. In fact, some writers find this excuse insulting to the sacrifices they made to accomplish their writing goals.
Here’s the hard truth: Nobody has time for writing. We all have jobs, hobbies (which don’t include writing), families, friends, social engagements, and life requirements like sleep, food, doctor appointments, and carpools. So how are books written?
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” said Ernest Hemingway.
A book is not something you begin “whenever you have the time.”
Writing is hard. Plotting stories is hard. Creating a plausible world and characters is hard. It’s a long-term commitment. And guess what? Long-term commitments are hard too. If you are serious about writing, welcome to the club. And I am so sorry.
How to Write a Book
Here’s how you write a book, blog, poem, play, or whatever your goal is:
You sit down and write. There’s no cheat code, no easy way out, and no shortcuts. You set a time from your busy life and work around it. I’d recommend you to set a daily writing goal, as in 20 minutes as soon as you wake up, an hour before you go to bed, at 7pm until 10pm, or whatever works for you. I admit that daily goals are hard to keep and I speak from experience.
Weekly goals are also pragmatic. You can choose to focus on writing over the weekends or for a few hours twice a week, again, whatever works for you. However, you must be extra strict about your writing days. Missing one day when you write daily is not a huge setback to your goals, but missing a few weeks in a row will ruin your writing flow. Again, I speak from experience.
Whatever you do, do not wait until you “have time.” You will never have time. While you can accomplish extra writing whenever the opportunity arises, do not rely on that. I have done my share of writing on bouncing schoolbuses, staff rooms, airports, and road trips. Yet my best work is usually done in my writing space, which brings me to the main point of this article.
What is a Writing Space?
This is where a writer can create an optimally productive environment. Although a perfect atmosphere won’t do the work for you, it may help increase your focus and stamina.
How to Create Your Writing Space
There are many elements to consider:
1. Personal Space
Do you write better alone or with people around you? Some writers prefer stillness and serenity; some writers find that chaos helps them concentrate. The latter might prefer coffee shops and libraries as opposed to a private office, bedroom, or backyard.
Do you need silence or sound while you write? Whether you are in a library or a bedroom, you might prefer to listen to music or ambient soundtracks. Some writers enjoy their favorite albums, while some find words distracting and prefer instrumental music to focus. For ambiance, some might like alpha/beta waves, while others like coffee shop sounds, rain, or settings that match the scene they are writing.
3. Comfort and Position
Do you write better in pajamas in bed, or dressed and sitting at a desk? Maybe a blend of both? Some writers are more productive while dressed properly, while others can’t write until they are completely comfortable. Play around with your position. Do you like to sit with your feet up? Legs crossed? Sitting on your legs? You might like lying on your bed or on your elbows on the floor. (Except if you are in public; then please stay on a chair or couch.)
4. Food and Drink
Some writers like to drink coffee, tea, juice, or wine (I won’t judge) as they work. You might feel the need to snack as you work, while others forget to eat entirely. Whichever kind of snacker you are, consider your health. It’s easy to fall prey to bad eating habits, but don’t fall into that trap. If you burn yourself out now, you won’t be able to write better in the future.
What does the rest of your environment look like? Do you need a clear space or do you think better with clutter? Here are some examples of individual writing needs that you might relate to:
- at night
- in the morning
- near a mirror
- near a wall
- in front of a window
- light scented candles
- a motivational quote next to the screen
- a pet playing in the room
- a timer tracking the writing
As you can see, a writing space completely depends on your individual needs. The best way to find your best space is through trial and error. Don’t fool yourself though. A stack of your favorite books on your desk can be inspiring for some, but if you find yourself reading instead of writing, put them away.
Some of you might be new to ambient sounds, but I highly recommend you give them a try. Many channels on Youtube or Spotify are dedicated to these sounds, but here are some of my favorite websites:
If you love the atmosphere of a coffee shop, but don’t want to leave your home, Coffivity is perfect for you. You can pick between a morning cafe, a college cafeteria, other surroundings. https://www.coffitivity.com/
Rain sounds are very relaxing and My Noise provides an easy-to-use website where you can tailor a rainstorm to your preference. You can also try their Rain on a Tent, Distant Thunder, and other sounds on their platform. https://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/rainNoiseGenerator.php
Here’s a tool I use often. Timers are a great motivational tool but this website has the ambiance options of rain, aquarium, and my favorite, fireplace sounds to play as you write. http://timer.onlineclock.net/