A Room of My Own
Although I love to write, it takes very little to divert my attention from my work. There are days when I curse the makers of Bejeweled Blitz and Monopoly for existing within easy reach of my mouse. But the ability to be so easily distracted comes from being out of creative shape.
Since writing involves very little physical exertion, I turn to other things to keep my creative mind in shape. Part of this involves my writing routine. I write in my office—being lucky enough to have a room I can dedicate to this in my house. In said room hang a plethora of framed Pearl Jam tour posters (40, to be exact). The collective effect could be overwhelming but there is something in that that keeps me focused. I need a place to set my hot tea or pint glass of water. I also like having a lit candle in the room (although I find I prefer this during colder days). I have comfy area rugs under my feet and sit close enough to my iPod to be able to change the music when need be.
To that point, I find it nearly impossible to get anything written without music in the background. I have a number of albums that work well for writing. R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People is my number one. A lot work well though, and whenever I hear the opening song, my mind gets to work, as if its heard its cue.
An album works well if I know it, it’s not too aggressive (most of the Metallica in my library doesn’t work here), and it’s in general kinda mellow. There’s something about the familiarity that my mind allows my mind to let it play without trying to disengage in the work and instead focus on the songs. I save the middle of the road—most of Pearl Jam’s catalog or Radiohead’s—for my editing/revising.
I try and work during the morning or afternoon. I find that if I work at night—which can be productive—I will get my mind going to the point that makes switching it off in order to go to bed nearly impossible (which can be challenging if I have to be up early to teach in the morning).
I tend to do my revising in a different room, as I like to be in a different head space to get that part of the work done. (I’ll say what I have to say about revising at a later date.)
In the end, my most productive days—and most productive spurts—tend to be when I have given myself the opportunity to let the routine happen. When I don’t, I spend hours coming up with different things to do with my keyboard—always interesting things to consider on eBay, things to peruse on Amazon, people to catch up with on Facebook. All of these things get in the way of the work.
When I am working and feeling productive, I felt like I used to feel back in high school, when, in the best shape I’d ever been in—being on the track and cross country teams—I could run four, five miles and feel great afterwards. My best days writing are like that now. When I let my creative muscle slack it tends to feel like my body does now at the beginning of softball season—this used to be so much easier.