Writing is an activity that can be hard to start. Maybe the music isn’t right, or you can’t find the motivation. Social media itself can throw off a writing schedule by at least 30 minutes. When it’s hard to focus, you need all the help you can get. Having a good go-to spot for writing is a huge help. What makes a good writing spot? And how do you find one? If you are on a quest for a great spot to write, here are some tips to help point you in the right direction.
- Avoid any spot that you use for relaxing activities
This is something that I have learned more recently in my writing journey. You don’t need a desk to get things done. What matters is that you have a designated spot for your writing. If there is a chair that you use to be a human potato, avoid it at all costs when writing. If you can help it, do not write in bed either. Keep a notebook by your bed for middle-of-the-night inspiration, but do not write in the same place you sleep. It can mess up your sleep schedule and your focus. Instead, find a spot that you use for productive tasks. I have a chair in my living room that I use when I need to work from home, knit, write, or do anything else productive. I try to avoid watching things in that chair or mindlessly scroll through Tumblr. A chair with a barstool to place a laptop can work in a small space.
- Find someplace quiet, or quiet enough that it can be drowned out by music
This is an obvious one, but can be difficult for many people. If you have roommates, kids, or super loud neighbors, this feels impossible. The main goal is to make do with what you have. This is where music is your best friend. A good playlist and some decent earphones can block out most of the noise. If you prefer to work in silence, noise canceling headphones are great for blocking out some noise. It’s also a good option if you need to keep an ear out for kids in the next room. In this case, a separate room with the door closed is a great quiet place to choose. You can leave a note on the door asking for anyone who lives with you to not disturb you for a bit. Interruptions are a huge distraction even if they are brief, so preventing them is a great asset. This is easier said than done with kids, but hopefully it will bring down the number of interruptions a bit.
- Comfort is key, but not too comfy
There must be a careful balance when choosing your future writing spot. It must be comfortable enough to spend hours there, but not too comfy. If your sofa is a cozy black hole that makes you fall asleep, avoid it when writing. Also, your bed is not a good idea. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not a good idea to write in the same place you sleep. It confuses your brain and might make it harder to fall asleep in the future. The bed is also a comfy spot that can be hard to adapt to productive things like writing. Some people can work in bed without any issue, but many don’t have this acquired skill. If you don’t have any other options, try sitting sideways in your bed instead of flush against the pillows. It will help your brain switch from sleep and daydream time to writing time. The ideal would be a comfortable chair with enough room for your writing materials. If you don’t have a great variety of options, a throw pillow will make any chair more comfortable.
- If all else fails, face the wall
There are countless distractions that can make it impossible to start on a story. The biggest one is the world around you, followed by social media at a close second. I can’t stop you from getting on twitter for the 90th time, but I can help you avoid the first challenge. Avoid windows and areas where you can see people walking around. Even if you are in the middle of a focused writing session, you will eventually become distracted by the world around you. It’s too fun to people watch or stare at animals doing weird things. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost thirty minutes of my writing time by staring at a squirrel climbing up the side of my apartment building. There are active squirrels at my house and I have the attention span of one. It’s a dangerous game. That’s why, if all else fails, face a wall. A nice, boring wall. If you are near a library and can visit the library, park yourself in one of the desk cubes. When I was in college, I got my best studying and writing done at a desk cube right up against the most boring beige wall I could find. If you have access to one, they are the gold mine for focusing. Bonus points if the desk has sides that block your view as well.
- Space is key
It’s important to find an area with enough space to fit all the things you need for a writing session. If you are someone who keeps a stack of plot cards along with a laptop, make sure you have room to spread a few of them out nearby. If you like to work with a cup of coffee within reach, make sure you have space to keep said drink or snack away from your other writing tools. A full coffee cup cost me a laptop one day, so be careful. I understand if some of you are reading this thinking “I have zero square footage how do I make space”. If that’s the case, have designated surfaces! I will use a barstool for my laptop and keep my drinks and snacks on my tiny side table next to my chair. If you want to lay out your plot cards, the floor is your friend. If you have enough wall space near your work spot, designate a wall for your plot cards. Most importantly, give yourself enough space to stretch out a bit. If you are crammed in a corner with no feet space, you might be more preoccupied with being squished than storytelling.
Where do you write? Does it help or hinder your writing? Were any of these tips helpful for your current writing situation? Let me know in the comments below! There’s been a lot of trial and error for me when finding a good place to write, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t find one for yourself right away. Eventually you’ll find a great spot to write. Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing!