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Your Workspace is All Wrong (And What's Essential to Boost Productivity)

The way we writers work is peculiar, and actually, particular. Though I've found that one method for one novels doesn't always suit another novel. Some of us are fully digitised, others still handwrite half of their work, and many of us are an amalgam in between. 

Me? I like to outline with tangible plot points, create and reshuffle, and I do this with post it notes on cork boards. I can keep track of pacing, interlocked story lines and character frequency. I can sketch landscapes and statues therein. But when it comes to writing, it has to be in Word.

But today, I want to talk about healthy creative environments.

So, at the moment, I'm on the floor in my living room, more from my uncanny ability to sit cross-legged for extended periods of time and the fact that I just spent the better part of a year extricated from my family in HSC mode (and I'm attempting to quash complaints that they never see me despite my nearly always being home). That, and the wifi conks out on my end of the house and it's infuriating.

I've never been one to work well outside my house. Seriously. I can't study in libraries, I can't write in coffee shops or at the beach. I don't even work that well on my balcony.

But now, I'm stuck here. To the right: 50-inch plasma TV with Blu-ray surround sound. To the left: parents who are slightly deaf and thus turn aforementioned TV up very loud. Behind those boards: the kitchen, where every appliance is like thunder and mortar rounds when anyone operates them.

Solution: move. But where?

So, what exactly are the essentials

You have to have physical comfort, namely a sitting positing that isn't distracting or painful or pins-and-needles-inducing, loose and preferably soft clothes, and temperature control. Not to mention light. I like a well-lit but not fluorescent room.

Noise within your threshold of background sound, which varies person to person. I actually like sound when I need to concentrate, and that's become more soundtracks than anything else lately. My most productive time is at night, when everyone's gone to bed, and I can leave the TV on at a normal volume, blend Hans Zimmer into it, and talk to myself and my proverbial brain beast that roams freely around the living room. 

Tools within reach or already set up, be it your laptop charger, hard drive, textbooks, folders of research and plotting. Could you imagine running out of battery in the middle of the Natasha/Loki interrogation of The Avengers

Sing it with me: SUUUUUUSTENANCE! Water or tea or coffee, jubes or crisps or apples. From many weeks of constant studying, I'll tell you this: above all, leaving your post in search of food or drink is THE ULTIMATE PROCRASTINATION TOOL. I don't know why that was capitalised. 

You know what I'm about to do?

Well, clean my room primarily (because clearly to show people my party tricks in the backyard, my room at the front of the house has to be impeccable), but also relocate myself to my larger-than-Hulk desk. I've already boxed all of my school work, so it's just a matter of setting up some cork boards and figuring out how to boost my wifi signal. 

But I'd like to hear from you guys. Where do you work best? Did it take you a while to find it, or was it somehow forced on you? Do you need your environment to tie directly to the environment you're writing about? Any tips for making a perfect workspace?


  1. My workspace is an absolute horrorshow. Manuscript piled in the center with various 'act on soon' pieces of mail on top of or on either side of it; old stuff to be filed or discarded stacked up on either end; notebook; other books, all kinds of junk scattered liberally across the top of it all. My chair's pneumatic cylinder that lets you raise and lower it to preferred height is (sometimes) broken, so it will occasionally sink as I sit (which has occasionally caused the arms of the chair to take out the pull out my keyboard rests on).

    Complete and utter catastrophe, yet I can work really well here.

    1. Oh my goodness, my desk chair does the exact same thing and it makes this noise like I'm about to get beamed onto the Starship Enterprise or something...

      But I digress.

      It's strange how seemingly uncomfortable and disastrous looking environments can boost productivity rather than inhibit it. My brother's been telling me for days that he couldn't imagine getting anything done sitting on the floor like that. We writers, we're tough huh? ;)

  2. Love your corkboards - I think I need something like that to bring some of my ideas a physical presence...

    I'm like you in that I work best at home. Even when working on assignments, they tried to force us in high school to do some research/planning/writing for our history essays in the library and those sessions would usually fail for me. I work at home, digitally. Whether I can write equally as well with my laptop set up on my desk with screen/keyboard/mouse or just on my lap somewhere in the house depends on my mood and what else is happening in the house, I think. I typically need music in the background to work as well.

    Currently I'm not sure if my desk space is as good as it could be (the set up, plus random items sitting around). Perhaps that will be one of my summer holiday projects now that uni is done for the year :D


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