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Finding your ideal writing spot

carolinedonahue.com |

 

Has this ever happened to you?

You’ve scheduled in a block of time to write, explained to your family that you’ll be unavailable for the next several hours, made deals and swapped responsibilities to get this precious time with your book only to sit down in your writing spot and realize you can’t concentrate. At all.

Where you write is just as important as making the time.

One of the essentials I work on with clients when we begin our process together is figuring out where they can get the most writing done. Finding a good writing spot is necessary before you can make progress on your project.

Setting aside time to write is a waste if you don’t have the right place to work.

Even trickier? Not everyone has the same needs when it comes to writing. So let’s go through the process together to ensure that when you take those hours (or minutes) to yourself, you’re certain that it will be time well spent.

Step 1: Write a job description for your writing spot.

This may sound a bit odd, but it’s an assignment I give nearly all my new clients. Imagine you are hiring the ideal place to write in, and you’re placing a classified ad. What qualities and amenities are you looking for in a writing spot? If you’re not sure, consider the following questions:

  • Does background noise soothe you or make you crazy?
  • Do you like to stare out a window at a nice view or does that slow you down?
  • Do you like other people around you, or do you prefer to be entirely alone?
  • Is food (or a particular beverage, say coffee?) a part of your ritual, or do you set these things aside when writing?
  • Can you unplug completely or do you need to be accessible to your partner, children or work?
  • How close does this place need to be from your home or work?
  • Do you need several hours to write, or are you better while snatching scraps of time here and there?

Take a little time to journal on these points. Many people don’t think about these things directly when deciding where to write and end up wasting precious minutes in spots that don’t suit them. Someone who needs others around them and the num of background noise will suffer in a library, whereas someone who needs total silence is never going to get anything done on the train or in a cafe.

Step 2: Create a list of places that you can interview as writing spots and interview them.

You don’t have to hire the first writing spot you interview. Just like if you were choosing a new employee, make sure you have a decent pool of candidates. Come up with a list of at least five options if you can, and begin trying them out for your writing sessions. If you haven’t started one already, keep a writing process journal and make notes about where you wrote, for how long, and how productive the session was. If it didn’t work out as expected, note down why and adjust your job description and list of other candidates as needed.

Love everything about the place, except it was too busy and impossible to get a seat? Modify your description to look for places that are less hip and trendy.

Did you realize that making yourself accessible by phone meant you were interrupted so much you didn’t write a word? Try going offline for longer and longer increments to get comfortable being away. Let those who need to find you in an emergency where you are and what you’re up to.

Keep interviewing your writing spot candidates until you have a solid list.

Make sure to note the type of work you did in each one and how it went- different spots may be better for different tasks. For example, when drafting new scenes or material I prefer to be in a dead silent library where I feel silly doing anything but writing. When editing or revising, I prefer to be in a cafe, and often buy myself a treat I’m only allowed to ask for if I reach my writing goal.

Step 3: Going forward, consider where you will write as much as when.

When you schedule time to write in your calendar, consider your list of writing spot candidates and the type of writing you plan to do in that session before planning where you’ll write. With your new tailored writing spots, the word count will soon be adding up like crazy.

What spots work best for you for writing? I’ve seen everything from cafes to libraries to sneaking time on a phone before work to a gorgeous writing shed in the garden work for me and my clients. I’d love to know where you are writing – share your favorite spots in the comments below!

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