Environmental Motivation

Like it or not, serious writing involves some amount of routine (a taboo word in my vocabulary, too).  If you write only when you feel like writing or only when you have the time to dedicate to it, you’ll never get closer to that best-selling novel you’ve been dreaming about since the third grade.  You know you have to buckle down every day, give yourself a goal word count, and actually stick to it, but it’s difficult to do, right?

Not with the right environment.  If I settled down to write the next great American novel in my room with fluorescent lighting, piles of unfolded laundry, and a radio screaming U2’s Joshua Tree, I wouldn’t last a minute (c’mon, who can write when belting out lyrics with Bono?).  And I’d never get anything written.

I need a quiet place.  A room with soft lighting.  Candles.  My favorite books at hand.  The largest mug of coffee known to humanity.  CHOCOLATE.  This sounds like an oasis to me.  It will undoubtedly be cluttered and messy, but it will be my space.  If you can’t bring yourself to write everyday, make your writing environment an oasis where you’ll want to escape.  Whatever that looks like to you.  Wherever you find inspiration.  Although the image of the poet scratching away with quill and ink in a dusty attic or dank dungeon sounds romantic, I’d probably spend more time shivering than writing.  Find that atmosphere that works for you, and write.

Check out The Guardian‘s series: Writer’s Rooms.


6 Responses to “Environmental Motivation”

  1. I know how you feel. My room is on the first floor. Below it is a frequently used drum set; next to it is a creaky wooden staircase and an acoustic hallway that acts like a horrible auditory duct that delivers all the sounds of the house to my room; and above it I hear nothing but the shuffling of feet on my ceiling—until 1 or 2 in the morning. Besides this, we have two dogs whose main hobby is barking.

    It’s hard to write here.

    • Kevin, yeah, I can imagine! I tend to be a glutton for punishment, and my main hobby includes welcoming all sorts of distractions. I need to be locked away in a tower to get anything done.

      • At this point I think my only choice is to be self-destructive and welcome distractions like you do. I can’t help it—it’s like looking at a sinking ship. I’ll throw on some headphones to drown out the dog, but every now and again I’ll pause the music to see if the dog is still barking. This is ridiculous and counterproductive.

  2. I like the oasis-idea. I used to write at the smoky bar at Medport (classically-mediocre Medford diner), in a park, in class…lots of writing in class when I “should have” been paying attention to the teacher. Lots of sketching, too. What happened to that, I wonder.

    It sounds like you’re working on your Great American Novel, but do you ever just journal? And if so, do you ever do both writing & drawing on the same page? I find that my creativity often flows in those directions, even if not as often as I’d like.

    Perhaps we have a bestseller in our midst. 🙂

    • I do journal . . . but not as often as I’d like. Sometimes I just open my laptop and type away. Then I reread it all after a half hour or so and promptly delete it all. Sometimes one small detail will lead to a story. I doodle only when on the phone or in class, and I stay away from it because my best friend is an artist and she could show me up in an instant. I might give it another go though . . .

  3. I can just say thank you for this wonderful post!

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