So you sit down to write, you really want to write but you look around. Your Mom is making coffee in the kitchen or cooking, the PS3 or Xbox is sitting there waiting for you, and the bills need to be paid. It’s hard to get comfortable and then you think about all the things you need to do that are more important. So you either wind up play the game systems or doing the bills, how do you get any writing done with all the things we need to get done in today’s world?
I have heard the advice, they say you should get a quiet area that you designate a work only area with no distractions and make it clear to other people in your house that this is the area that you work in and during certain hours they should try not to disturb you, to make sure you get other things done first and plan your writing time so you have a worry free window of time to get things done. I think this is great advice for people who have extra room in their house, are great with planning and getting stuff done, and who even have time and are lucky enough to know when they will have time free, and even when you know you have free time you can’t just turn on inspiration. Even if you know what you are going to write about, sometimes you just aren’t in the mood, and now that worry free window of time for writing turns into you feelings pressured to write because you did so much to create this time.
So here is how I get my writing done and my advice to other young adults who live in small apartments, with their parents, or perhaps, like me with their Mom and boyfriend. Here is how I get my writing done when my only real writing space is a tiny desk in a tiny kitchen that constantly has people going in and out of it, for people who have lots of things to do, bills to pay, and places to be, or for people who don’t really have a lot to do, but lot’s of distractions and nowhere to go to really get away from them. I know you can go to your local coffee shop and other great atmospheres to write, but for the purpose of this article I am going to focus on writing around the house (or apartment) for those of us who feel more comfortable writing at home, or just have kids to watch, or things to do.
My number one thing that frustrated me when I looked up writing habits is a lot of them mention that you should create a space designated for work and only work. You know what, that is a great idea and I’m sure would work for a lot of people, but for people in less than ideal situations there isn’t always such a clear cut option for designating a distraction free workplace. I live in a one bedroom apartment with my Mom and boyfriend, my only desk is a tiny on in a tiny kitchen that is constantly being used to get water, getting snacks, washing dishes, cooking, and making coffee, and even if I could tell everyone to stay out of the kitchen the living room where my boyfriend does is chess and listens to videos on the kings gambit or whatever it is he is working on that day is just a peek around a corner away, as well as my Xbox 360 PS3 and other gaming systems that are beckoning me to play. So that’s the living room and kitchen crossed off, that leaves the dinning room that is attached to the living room, the bathroom and my Mom’s bedroom. The dinning room is too close to the living room, and I get distracted my his chess and often he takes breaks to play video games, and that’s distraction number one, bathroom, well no thank you so my solution is my Mom’s bedroom.
Yeap, my Mom’s room, which is where I am writing this write now. I wake up pretty early every second day or so, put on a pot of coffee, at this point either my Mom is awake or is going to wake up soon, so I got make me and her a coffee, either check my Facebook, or news or just random Internet searches, or I go in and tell her coffee is on her desk and wait till she gets up. Once she is up she gets on her computer and I sit on her bed, we talk for a while, and she goes on Facebook, turns on the radio, and does her make-up, for me this is the perfect environment for writing. My boyfriend usually isn’t awake yet, and me and my Mom have conversations here and there, but we mostly sit listening to the radio and it works.
My advice for finding the perfect space for yourself is this: Find a time when you’re not doing anything, for some people they wake up have a coffee and just relax, for others it’s before bed, and yet for others it’s lunch, or any other time that works for your work, school, or life schedule. This should be a time where ideally even when you know you have stuff to do that day, or the next day, you’re still relaxing. Make that your time for writing. This time doesn’t have to be the same time every day, nor does it have to be every day at all. It can be every second or third day, or just once a week or once a month, depending on your schedule and your preferences. Also it doesn’t even have to be scheduled at all, this sounds very loose, but for some people it’s what works best. Pretty much the point I am trying to make is at the very least, try to figure out in your head when you will have time. For example, I get ready for bed and think to myself, okay tomorrow morning when I wake up I have some time to write, I have acknowledged that and when I wake up in the morning, if I am in the mood for writing, I know I have time for it and I can enjoy it, or if I wake up and I don’t feel like it, then I can sip on a cup of coffee, pay some bills, or just brainstorm for next time I want to write.
As for the actual location, it’s nice to have somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed but for people living with their partners, parents, or children, it’s not always easy or even realistic. What I did was chose the most quiet time in my house, that was in the morning when my boyfriend was still sleeping, and my Mom is just waking up, my Mom has her coffee and listens to the radio and we keep each other company with the odd conversation, but for the most part we just enjoy sitting together. So find a time when its as quiet and relaxing as possible for your situation. If you have children maybe that is early in the morning before they wake up, or if you’re not a morning person, perhaps, after they go to bed at night. You’re in a house like me with someone always around, pick the least busy time of day. Maybe the morning is the slowest with people just relaxing and having coffee, or maybe it’s at night when people are winding down from the day and relaxing.
Find a spot such as your desk in your room, or favorite comfy chair, and curl up with your laptop, or pen and paper. Or be creative if you need to, maybe your house is really busy all day, try asking your Mom or Dad to let you sit in the car in the garage or driveway. Just lay your legs out in the back seat with your back against the door and your computer or notebook on your lap and go to town, you even have the option of some music on the radio for background noise if that helps. For me I find sitting on a comfy bed to be really relaxing, with the radio on in the background. Just make sure your gaming systems, are out of reach and earshot if anyone else is playing them, and if your working on your laptop try not to fall into a rabbit hole, where you Google something and one thing leads to another and next thing you know its six hours later.
So plan a time to write as many, or as few times as you would like, that week or month, or just acknowledge that those are times that your are able to get writing done if you are in the mood, that way by thinking about it and telling yourself, hey I could get some writing done at that time on that day, then you are not forcing yourself to stick to a schedule (having a schedule doesn’t work for everything) but at the same time your telling yourself that this is a time that is available to write, and that way when that time rolls around and you feel like writing you know it was already set aside for writing and you don’t feel pressured to get other tasks done because writing is what you intended to do during this time if the mood struck you.
This fits it with what I said above but not everyone can have a space that is designated for work only, so just shut down game systems, if your have a phone that you don’t need at that hour then turn it off, and keep any bills, tax returns job/school applications and such out of site. That way you don’t have stuff nagging at you, because yes those things are important, but as they say all work and no play makes jack a dull boy, and writing is a fun way to take a break from those things and I think everyone needs a break from their day to day responsibilities.
In the next post I will talk about how I got back into writing after stopping for years, trying to write again but it feeling forced, and finally waking up excited to writing a Blog post, I encourage you to share your tips on how you make time to write and/or Blog in your busy life.