Concepts about Writing - Location and Writing Habit
Updated: Jun 14
I am sitting at the new(ish) location of my at-home work desk. I have a fancy expensive keyboard and curved monitor, and a switch to go back and forth between my work laptop and my Mac, which I write on.
I’m on coffee break, so I am grabbing some time.
My office is in the basement of my house, and doubles as my craft studio. It is slightly unkempt, the cacophony of fabric bins, bead bottles, tools, and paper lends it a rather burrow-like feel. My bookshelf along one wall is a medley of colours, my gardening books a burst of green and beige next to my more sedate books on medieval Britain. My saddle perches in one corner, covered to keep the expensive leather dust free.
In other words, it shouts my personality to all who enter. It is both my cozy place to be, and a cave I must endure for my day job, as the slip of sunlight through the blocked window teases me to ascend upstairs and take in the Vitamin D at the most inconvenient moment.
Despite the past year of working from home with a dedicated space to do it from, I have not spent a large amount of time in the space. I have both worked and written at the kitchen table, from my reading chair in the living room, and propped up in my bedroom, swathed in warm comforters, a steaming tea beside me. Partially because my husband’s office is right beside mine, and I do need quiet to focus (he’s loud on the phone) and because when I am down here, I am not as available to my children.
Since the beginning of the year, I have been struggling to be productive in my fiction writing, even when I have dedicated time. Pandemic fatigue, a health scare in January, and other projects have all vied for that brain space. I chalked it up to needing a break, which I took. Now I am back at it, thankfully!
With that, I’ve been experimenting with where I am most inspired to write to kickstart my engine. I’ve migrated all over the house, looking for that best, elusive spot. Where am I most inspired? Where am I most productive? Where am I the most comfortable? When I sit down, I want to immediately set to “writing mode”. Establishing ritual and habit to push that writing muscle to react when I am in that specific spot.
It hasn’t been easy.
Creating a Habit through Location
The concept I think I am looking for is to create a habit cue via a location.
When we have a specific spot for a certain activity, it helps to focus our mind on that specific thing. In one article by James Clear - a well-known expert on habits - he talks about going to the same spot in the gym each time he visits so that his mind is triggered to start his workout routine, and he is able to focus faster.
In another article specific for writers, the author talks about creating an environment that encourages you to write. A place in the house that is only for writing, no matter how small. There is a suggestion that it doesn’t need to be a space, it can even be a specific chair, or switching places at the dining room table!
Do a Google on “writing habits” and there are as many results and ideas as there are books in a book store. Writing is hard. Finding that special place to do it can be difficult, and experimenting is key to finding what works for you. Maybe location isn’t a problem, maybe it is time the day, or mood that is necessary.
For me, location makes a huge difference.
Making a Location Work
In that spirit of experimenting, I moved all the things in my burrow around. I separated my office desk from my craft table to face the door, and my back is now against the far wall. I dedicated a space to my day job that doesn’t have half-finished necklaces dangling above my monitor, and various pliers and cutters piled beside where I put my coffee in the morning.
Upon sitting down to log into work for the first time at my new desk, I had a sudden calm purpose. I was here to work. No distractions of dirty dishes to load into the washer, laundry piled up ready to fold, or floors that desperately need a mop. I didn’t want to get up and get a snack six times that morning, or have the clatter of my hands-on hobbies staring at me, breaking my focus.
I think this is what I was looking for with my writing.
So what does your writing location look like? Where do you write best? Do you have an ideal writing location that you can’t access right now, or want to curate a space but don’t know where to start? I’m curious to know!