Anyone who has ever attempted to write anything, whether it is a paper for class, a poem, or a full-length novel, has experienced the blankness of page (or screen) that stubbornly will not go away. The day’s troubles continually slam into our minds, the temperature is just not right, your gamer husband is whispering expletives at a zombie, or like my experience at this very moment—my always loud, probably intoxicated, neighbors are fighting each other in the front yard. As I type, I can hear his truck start and her voice accelerate. This is definitely jiving with my mood.
Each weekday, my time is filled by 8.5 hours staring at a computer screen working for a government agency. Although I am super grateful for my job, it is not my preferred-- or in my opinion -- a fruitful way to spend my time. As soon as I walk in the door of my home, the demands of my personal life hit me in the face. The newest competition is my awesome treadmill equipped with mechanical incline and quick buttons. Who would’ve thought that the burden of keeping myself healthy would get in the way of my writing?
It did not take me long to realize that if I was going to become successful as a writer, I needed to rapidly put steps in place that would help me switch my mind from the world of bureaucracy to the fantastical arenas in my stories. After some successes and failures, I found that by altering my environment in ways that appealed to my senses, switching from wife to writer became less like forcing myself to pay attention in a work meeting and more like putting on a pair of warm, fuzzy socks.
1) Music, anyone? I’m generally pretty distractible, and at work, I keep things as quiet as possible. With writing however, music has almost single handedly allowed me to put my mind into my story in just a few moments. By selecting music that goes along with the theme of my material, my mind immediately breaks away from the mundane and opens my imagination to the fantastical. Music with words can occasionally be distracting, but generally, once I get in the groove, it just fades into the background…and drowns out my neighbors.
2) Writing space: Until a month ago, I had the most uninspiring writing space anyone could imagine. I really didn’t put much weight on the issue; I just figured as long as I had a place to be alone, that was all I needed. After visiting an artist friend’s house and seeing her super inventive space: pastel colors, bookshelves lining the walls, her favorite art and all the tools of her trade, I decided it was time for a change. I needed a space that would call to me during the day when I was away, a place that would bring me back to my story world in a flash, as if I’d never stopped writing. After searching the internet for inspiration, I found a cozy, affordable, cherry writer’s desk that fit perfectly in my upstairs room. I gave away some old furniture that I did not like anyway, and put the fantasy art pictures representing my characters on the wall. Now, there is no doubt remaining when entering this room that this space is meant for creativity and comfort.
3) Scent Rescue: My Jack Russell loves to curl up under my feet when I’m writing, but unfortunately, after having played in the backyard during a scorching Louisiana summer, she does not smell so fresh. I threw myself into the smell-o-rama that is the Yankee Candle store and tried to find something inspirational. On a bottom shelf I discovered a scent from my high school days. Patchouli. The scent that is often detested by many, but grounding and stabilizing to those that love it.
I still have those days when writing is difficult. Days when too much to do at work has forced me to stay late, my head hurts, or for some reason, I suddenly become popular and everyone I know wants to call or text. However, the factors that I cannot control have less of an impact now. Once I walk up the 12 steps to my writing room, the faint smell of patchouli, ambient electronic music, and my pretty desk remind me that I am a writer and that in a matter of moments, I’ll be doing just that.