So you’re a writer. Perhaps you’re a staff writer like me, writing articles and copy to support a given company. Or perhaps you’re a storyteller, a weaver of tales, stimulating the mind and imagination with wondrous stories of character, drama, romance, and adventure.
No matter what area of writing you work in, there is an element of creativity involved, that inspirational muse that is so often elusive but that we must capture and wrestle with in order to produce really good material. Capturing that inspiration may prove problematic, and many times it involves finding the creative environment from which we are best able to work.
For me, I was given little choice. Working for a company means a certain number of hours per day, and being there during a given time. Trying to produce a good work between 9AM and 5PM when your daily creative peak is typically between 10PM and 2AM often leaves me in somewhat of a literary pickle.
Fortunately, I found a good compromise, as my employer was very flexible on when we worked our hours. Gradually, I became a morning person, usually arriving at the office very early, 2 or 3 hours before anybody else starts showing up. I rapidly discovered that I was able to get a lot done during that time. Once other bodies began inhabiting the premises, it is far easier to be distracted and jolted out of your creative zone.
You may not be confined by an offsite office….you may have the luxury of working from your home, on your own terms. I did this for over twenty years, and I discovered that it is still important to maintain some level of isolation from various distractions. My then-wife would often ask me to come help with the kids or laundry or some other household chore during my work hours. I had to remind her that I was working and request that interruptions cease unless somebody had an artery bleeding out or something generally as urgent.
If I am away from work and working on my own material, I like to find a good, inviting area to work. I particularly enjoy coffee shops, even though I don’t drink coffee, the atmosphere is usually agreeably subdued, and the surroundings lend themselves to inspiration.
Okay, now you have your space….so what do you do with it? Fortunately, my co-workers and I agree on one thing….keeping the office dark. There are no lights except for what comes in through the windows, creating a subdued and relaxed atmosphere that I find very easy to work in. You on the other hand, may want your space lit up like the midday sun. It’s whatever trips your creative trigger, my friend.
I know plenty of writers who enjoy listening to music when they write. I’m a big music lover, heck it’s what I spent twenty years on the road doing, but I cannot listen to music when I’m trying to be creative. That which I love so much becomes a distraction. I prefer to work in silence, while I know of others who like the stereo up, the TV in the background, basically as much sensory overload as possible.
On the other hand, I do enjoy music when I am concentrating on the more technical end of things, such as editing a piece or posting links. That’s when I’m likely to put on the earphones and tune out the world.
Is there a set amount to write every day? I try to do around 3000 to 4000 words a day, but then I’m on a salary and I have to give the company something for what they are paying me. You may not be so encumbered with such matters. I personally suggest trying to write something every day, even if it’s only a story or article idea, a line of dialogue, something. Many times, just writing a little snippet is enough to get you into a creative groove, which you should ride for as long as it lasts, for you never know when it’s going to come again.
So where are we going with this? I’m trying to say that there is no set in stone rule as to how you should write, or when, or where. Writing is not like an assembly line where you can go into a productive trance at 9 and snap out of it at 5 and go home. No, writing is a strange, wonderful, mystical, inspiring, infuriating, encouraging, frustrating process that requires all of the “write elements” for you to be successful. Find that magical combination of elements that work for you, that bring out the best you have to offer creatively. The world is waiting to see what wondrous works will be produced as a result.
Now go therefore and write well….