“Organize Your Writing Space Before the New Year!” Love, Mom
This isn’t just another nagging mom monologue. Check out the hidden writer’s meditation below.
Just kidding, I’m not your mom. But I will yell at you to do one chore. And one chore only before the new year.
But relax. (I hate it when people tell me to relax. Are you sufficiently keyed up now?) I’m not going to give you a bunch of organizing that’ll need constant upkeep. Not now. Not ever.
What I’m requesting is for you to take a trip with me. A journey into fantasyland. Close your eyes (no don’t or you’ll stop reading). Just snuggle up and open your imagination. Let my words lead you inward to a place where all your writing dreams come true.
You’re on the fanciest writing retreat of your life. This isn’t for one weekend only. Oh, no! You get a whole month to write all day and all night, uninterrupted. Envision yourself at an open-air bungalow in a tropical paradise. Or curled up next to a fireplace at a log cabin in a snowy forest. Visualize that ideal destination. Make sure you’ve pictured the perfect retreat house. Got it?
Yes. Now consider the amenities. You’re in a remote, month-long writing retreat of your choice. No husband. No kids. No job. No housework. No bills.
You’ll have someone to provide all your meals. (No, cooking. Unless cooking helps you think.) You’ll never see the chef. But you will find all your favorite foods in a fully stocked kitchen. Didn’t plan for a kitchen? Revise now. You’ll need a space large enough to accommodate a refrigerator filled with all your specialty drinks like champagne, soda, sparkling water, vodka on tap, and a countertop big enough to provide cheese, wine, cupcakes, cookies, (none of this has any calories, btw) candy, and coffee. With full meals served in an immaculate dining room under a dripping crystal chandelier.
Need a massage after dinner?
Don’t forget about the bathroom—I mean, the lounging restroom. You’ll have a huge garden tub or a clawfoot one, if you prefer. Marble countertops with crystal fixtures surround the sinks. Enormous closets open up to a sea of high-end luxury clothing and shoes you’ll never wear. Low lighting always highlights your best angles. And a massage table with a nameless masseur available 24/7 stands at the ready. Plus, don’t forget the hot tub. The sauna. And the steam room.
Use these spaces at your leisure, but don’t forget you’ve also gotta write. That means you’ll need a workspace. Will you work from your plump, pillow-like bed? Or will you have a desk in a separate room? Will you work from your laptop on the sofa?
Designate this space. Make it pristine and perfectly organized. Decide the colors and the fabrics that will surround the walls and what the furniture will look like.
What kinds of things might you need to access while you’re writing? Drinks? Snacks? Extra pens? Your laptop? Add those into your area.
What kind of desk? A large, flat brown and green top from the turn of last century? A tiny IKEA computer desk that doesn’t take up much room? A bed with your notebook and a pen?
If you can pull off the luxury of your writing retreat’s kitchen and bathroom, you can also dream up the most tempting writing nook. Envision it crystal clear in your mind. Create a space that’s relaxing, but not so relaxing that you fall asleep—rethink that bed if you need to. Mostly, you need this space to be beautiful, but functional.
Writing a novel on a typewriter and want to have enough floorspace to spread out the individual sheets of paper so you can more easily edit them?
Handwriting a first draft in a notebook? Maybe you need a chaise lounge. But a comfy one, not some old Hollywood crick in your neck kind of lounge. One that’s got lots of pillows and blankets to prop up your arms, so your wrists don’t go numb.
Typing your memoir using a laptop? You may want to kick back in a lazy boy as long as your legs are propped up and you’ve got an end table that’ll accommodate an adult beverage, some inspirational books, and a power outlet.
Needing a large desk to handle double computer screens, so you can visually see the designs for your book, workbooks, and website?
Have you clearly envisioned your fantasy writing space yet?
“Now snap out of your damn daydream and get to work!” sincerely, your mother. (I keep telling you, I’m not your mom. Why are you projecting?) Some things just feel too good to be true, eh?
So, why in the hell did I land you in this perfect writing place only to rip you out of it?
To show you that your imagination is powerful. It can take you places in your dreams and in your writing. But before you ever start your writing, I want you to take time to consider the physical needs you’ll require to accommodate your writing practice in 2019.
Do yourself (and your mom) a favor. Before you plow into 2019 with all your fancy ideas about writing the latest and the greatest. Please, please, please for the love of Presecco + back rubs that don’t accidentally turn into more children, please, organize your writing space. I’m begging you. Pretty, please!
Really consider where you work each and every day. Think through all the tiny details. Consider all the interruptions that may happen if you don’t get your shit together in your writing nook. Because at this point in the season we all ignore the truth.
Every one of us starts the new year all sparkly like we’re gonna crank out the most amazing work of our lives. Like our fingertips are dipped in the gold dust of literary magic. And within the first 5 seconds of using that magic, our homes mysteriously fill up with strange people who start yelling our name. Who let these people into our writing retreat? Or we need to use the bathroom. Why in the world must we negotiate the needs of a real body while we’re trying to use our minds? Or we pick up a pen that doesn’t write. It’s your only jooooooooobbbbb, Ink Master!
Why is this happening?!!!
At this point, you know everyone has been filling your life with lies, lies, and more lies about the writing process. Advice that may work for them but will never work for you. It’s not at all possible to produce content on the naked page in your home environment. So, you give up.
Before you move into meltdown city, let’s consider some ways to make your day-to-day life more writer friendly.
Check out this checklist I’ve created for you. Take an inventory of what you currently have in place for your writing practice. Change anything to better meet your writing needs moving forward.
Get yourself a small plan together.
Do NOT rent a handyman and remodel your kiddo’s treehouse into that perfect writing retreat (That sounds amazing, but don’t do it). Just carve out an hour before 2019 (or early into 2019, if you’re running behind) and arrange your space. Consider how you will respond to each interruption without ruining your writing practice or the lives of every other member in your household who doesn’t write.
Reflect on the following questions:
What does my real writing space look like? How would I prefer it to look?
What’s the best time of day to write? How will I schedule my day to write regularly?
How can I best accommodate my writing with accessories? As my environment changes? With people around?
Use this checklist as a template:
[ ] I have a space that is just for my writing
[ ] My space is quiet and private or uses the natural noises of my surroundings to help me write
[ ] My seat is ergonomic or at least comfortable enough for long periods of sitting
[ ] I don’t write seated, I have a standing desk or I type while on the move
[ ] I have a desk that’s big enough to turn into a boat if the next flood hits and I need to keep writing
[ ] I like to lay on the floor surrounded by all the pages of my work
[ ] My space accommodates other things like drinks, snacks, paperclips, pens, books, etc.
[ ] My writing time is something I can schedule in daily or weekly
[ ] I write best in the mornings/afternoons/evenings/middle of the night/while the baby naps
[ ] I can chunk time into 15-minute sections
[ ] I have a plan in place for when I get bigger chunks of time available
[ ] I need time before I write to get into the flow of writing
[ ] I have an office or room of my own
[ ] I have a shared space, but know when I can use it without the TV on or other interruptions
[ ] The kitchen, where I write in my head while I do laundry, cook, etc.
[ ] I write in my head while on the treadmill or elliptical
[ ] On the toilet works for me (it’s all I’ve got)
[ ] I have motivation for writing regularly so I can work on a project
[ ] Good ideas are my kickstart to write something right now
[ ] I want to be consistent for the entire year of 2019
[ ] What’s my biggest goal for my upcoming writing projects?
Who? *Do these people help or hinder your writing?
[ ] Me, of course
[ ] Significant other(s)
[ ] The kids
[ ] Neighbors
[ ] Writing group buddies
[ ] Online group buddies
[ ] Reading groups
[ ] How will I physically get words out of my head and into the world?
[ ] How will I write without forgetting to eat, drink, exercise, dress my children?
[ ] How will I be consistent with my writing?
Did you get your perfect writing space arranged? Are you going to do it? (I gotta do a little mom nagging)
I won’t bug you to keep a well-organized space throughout the year. Nor will I convince you to write as the dirty dishes stack up. Your comfort level on cleanliness is all your own. But I do want you to consider what that ideal space should look and feel like. And if you lose your place somewhere in 2019, come back to this list you’ve created. And reflect.
That is all.
Not your mom, but an actual mom who wants you to enjoy the writing process not waste time struggling to find a pen, running out of laptop juice, or having your kids interrupt your masterpiece.
What other ways can you ensure that your writing is productive this year? Not just dabbling in a little journaling until mid-January, but really finding productive ways to reach your writing goals?