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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Writing in the right atmosphere

This is what happens sometimes. I'm learning to be okay with that.

Today I set myself a goal -I wanted to write 5 articles and complete a useful blog entry. So I sat down at my desk with a cup of coffee, a bottle of water and the Intertubes...and absolutely nothing happened. Normally, sitting at my desk in my room is the absolute best way for me to write. There are no distractions that I can't control (although honestly, Tweetdeck is a little bit ridiculous sometimes), it's guaranteed to be quiet and I can get up to make more coffee any time I want to. My desk is also conveniently right next to my bed, in which I have spent an inordinate amount of time sleeping lately (I blame laryngitis. And laziness).

Ordinarily, my room is the best place for me to work.

And yet today, when I opened up all of my little research windows and the form in which I write my articles, nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. There was no speedy tapping of keys, and I was listlessly looking through the tabs of research I had open. My eyes had glazed over and I knew that I was absorbing less information than I normally do.

This is a rare occurrence for me (like I said, I really like working in my room. It's like the batcave, only less technological and filled with posters of Audrey Hepburn).

After about half an hour of sitting in front of my computer and accomplishing absolutely nothing, I finally gave up. Not on writing, just on writing in my room. I had to admit that I needed a change of pace, and some new scenery.

I came to the student center here on campus (despite the bomb threats that keep popping up here, I feel pretty comfortable coming to Baker. The dogs didn't find anything, so I'm okay with spending a couple hours here if it lets me get some work done). Things began looking up immediately -I have become aware of the fact that I will not be able to write unless I have ample access to caffeine. I got a hazelnut latte from the coffeeshop, and the girl accidentally put an extra shot of espresso in it. Woe is me.

So with that jolt of energy coursing through my veins, I came up to the 5th floor and sat back in a corner. Plopped down, plugged in and caffeinated, I pounded out 3 articles in about an hour (and the only reason it took that long was because of research for one of them). Bam, said the lady.

I'm trying to be more attentive to my writing needs -I think it's important to know what factors influence the Muse and get my energy up.

For instance, after some experimentation I know that:

  • I write better and more quickly if I am listening to something like Antonin Dvorak or Andrew WK than something like Owl City or Jack's Mannequin
  • I have to have adequate back support. If I can't lean back in the chair, I'm not going to get along with it.
  • Putting my feet up is awesome (although my knees get stiff pretty quickly -does that mean I'm getting old?)
  • Caffeine, obviously, is required for the writing process
  • I work best in spurts -write one article, then catch up with Tweetdeck updates and read some other articles, check Facebook, then write another article. Lather, rinse, repeat
  • If I don't feel my best, I don't write my best. I can't write before I've had a shower and eaten breakfast. I don't write well in pajamas or sweatpants -I have to feel like I'm presenting my best face to the world in order to present my best writing to the world. Sloppy me = sloppy writing.
  • Other people are a distraction. Distractions are not always bad. Texting while writing does not break my focus (if it does, the text can wait). People-watching is fun (although I'm starting to think fashion-impaired androids are taking over the world. Put on some pants, please. Leggings + Ugg boots + short t-shirts = BAD. If I can see your cellulite or your lady bits, your outfit should never have left the house).
  • Driving in a car with the windows down and the music up is usually the only inspiration I need.
  • Sometimes, I just can't write as much as I want to, and I need to get over myself. I'm not all-powerful (but don't tell anyone else I said that). Sometimes I just need a break.

What atmosphere do you write in? How do you deal with changes in your writing space? What do you do to shake things up when you're feeling stagnant? Do you ever feel stagnant, and if not, how do you avoid it?

1 comment:

  1. Your tweetdeck annoys me when I'm writing ;)
    Your blog was the breath of fresh air I needed to take a break from my own writing. Thanks.

    I like to write in quiet - people around me don't bother me too much unless they are talking TO me while I'm trying to write.

    The level of my frustration is usually directly proportionate to the amount of caffeine I have consumed or sleep I have lacked.

    I have also learned to write with the background music of iCarly or Brainsurge - but only sometimes. There are days when I look like the picture at the beginning of this blog.