Writing a novel is hard, even for people who love writing. But there are ways to make it easier and one of the most important ones is creating the right environment. You might think a dedicated writing space is a luxury but over the years, I’ve come to realise that it’s a necessity - your own space to create is a powerful signal to your brain to get to work. So whether it’s a small cupboard under the stairs or you’re lucky enough to have your own study, here are five tips for setting up a writing space for success.
1. Invest in a Good Chair
You’re going to be spending a lot of time in it, so make sure you get the best you can afford. Many people make the mistake of focusing on their dream desk but if you’re not sitting comfortably, it’s a major disruption to the writing process and can have a negative impact on your health. I bought the Diffrient World by Humanscale chair and have never looked back. I also invested in a second, larger screen which connects to my laptop and prevents eye strain.
2. Update and Safeguard Your Technology
Good Wi-Fi is a must of course but make sure your computer has an anti-virus software. There’s nothing more terrifying than the loss of an 80,000-word document and no back up! Also, have a think about the types of systems you will use to create your book. Google Docs or Scrivener? How will you plan your chapters and record your research? Will you have a notebook and pen or will you use something like Evernote? The good news is that there are lots of options – it’s a case of trial and error to find the right one for you.
3. Set The Scene
Make your space a place where you actually want to be. Decorate it as you see fit and have your favourite things around you. On my desk, I have a candle, hand cream, and a lamp and I have placed my desk near the window so the room is flooded with natural light. I also have a mini-fridge (a girl has to have snacks!), a few pictures, and copies of my book The Good Mother. Pintrest has lots of ideas on work space interiors, from small touches to complete redesigns.
4. Reduce Distractions
Social media, your phone, the cat…it’s amazing how easy it is to get derailed by the smallest of things. To combat this, I set a timer for 90 minutes and I don’t let myself focus on anything but my book during that time. Then I have a 15-minute break where I do what I want and then do another 90 minutes. I aim for three 90 minute sessions a day. It might not work for everyone, but it keeps me focused. I also limit the amount of clutter on my desk, make sure the door is closed, and put my phone on do not disturb.
5. Declutter Regularly
Once you've established your space, guard it with your life! Don't let it become a dumping ground for paperwork, sports gear, toys and so on. Once a month, have a clear out and get rid of anything that's no longer useful or helpful, making sure you're surrounded by objects that inspire creativity.
What's on your writing desk?