My work space has evolved recently due to the need to spread out at this rewrite stage and the desire to keep a computer out of my 15 year olds room. He’s using the desk in the living room and I was turfed out. It’s actually turned out well. I’ve taken over the dining room and we still have a bit of room to eat if we squish up at the end. This is also a great wall for my outline. This board is a simple bit of lightweight MDF that I painted with blackboard paint and hung it like a regular painting.
I’d love to see your workspace. I’m a huge voyeur of desks. I even watch youtube videos of desk set ups for fun.
In an effort to streamline and get some writing on the page, I’ve looked at parts of my day that can be devoted to fingers on keyboard in a positive way. Looking at catalogues that come into my email is a total time waster. I counted how many came in over just a few days and it was 27 of those little distracting pests. I’m not sure how I collected so many but they seem to find me in this wintery corner of the world. They worm their way and set comfy in my inbox and before I know it, I’m overrun.
It’s amazingly hard to unsubscribe. Have you noticed that? The unsubscribe link is always hidden away in – 4 font down the bottom of the email. Sometimes it’s so stealthy it doesn’t say unsubscribe. It requires a magnifying glass and a safari suit to find the secret passageway to unsubscribe land. Livingstone and sherpers couldn’t find some of them. When finally it is trapped and the link is clicked it took me to a site where a sad little message will greeted me.
Really! You’re leaving me? Why? I’ve been so good to you. I’ve given you hours of browsing pleasure looking at things you don’t need so you don’t have to write. Isn’t this a little harsh? At least take me out to dinner.
Just when I thought the relationship was over, a few of the more persistent – dare I say stalkerish sites – came back with a message.
We miss you. It’s not the same with out you. Here are a few deals to tempt you back.
Restraining order anyone!
I was ruthless. I even broke up with Booktopia – a bookstore in Australia. That one was hard. There is regret over that one.
My email looks less cluttered and I’m a minimalist at heart. My time is not spent on looking through online stores for things I have no need of but look pretty. Breaking up was worthwhile, even if my eyes did take a beating from looking for that tiny link.
No, not that kind, though the flying nun is habit-forming.
At the beginning of the year I wanted to turn some so-so habits that were kind of working into habits that helped me breeze through the day. There were things I was good at and some I was haphazardly hit and miss with. Writing every day was unfortunately falling into the latter category.
A book that helped me turn this around was Lifelong writing habits by Chris Fox. It’s a quick little book, it took me no more than an hour to read through the entire thing and there are some pointers in there that where easy to implement. After about a month I found they were real habits and if I didn’t do them I felt something in my day was off. That’s the feeling I wanted. I wanted to notice if I didn’t write.
Chris breaks down what a habit is.
The trigger, i.e. an alarm in the morning that wakes you up
The Routine, i.e. brushing your teeth and making a cup of coffee
And The Reward, i.e. clean teeth and a shot of caffeine.
I needed sitting down at my writing place to be as necessary as brushing my teeth in the morning. After a month or so – it took longer than I imagined it would – if I don’t park myself in that seat I feel something was off about my day. I felt not quite right in my world.
There are loads of books on the market about habits, I think any of them could deliver the same message. This one did so in a compact way that didn’t take a great deal of time and didn’t necessitate any grand plan. It was also under $5 aus.
It spoke about something I found to be true. That willpower doesn’t work. I don’t mean the racing car driver, I am sure he works very well. I mean that thing we are all suppose to have that pushes us to do something. For a few days, sure, but over and over again, not so much. By hard wiring writing into my brain I created an addiction to this activity.
My trigger: Alerts I set on every device I could get my hands on. My phone, iPad, laptop and desktop all chime one minute after each other telling me to Write, Write, Write, Write. It’s worse than an toddler in a toy story for nagging.
My routine: Grab a cup of coffee, sit on the chair, read over yesterdays quick notes ( I’ll blog about quick notes) and then put fingers on keys and press them in an order that makes sense. It’s important not to open up anything but scrivener.
My reward: Words on the page. Pages turning into chapters. Chapters turning into a book!
The same place, the same time, the same thing = habit.
How do we get anything done when the call of tweets, grams and posts are all around us? My phone beeps at me telling me someone liked a picture I posted to Instagram and my iPad buzzes if Idris Elba posts absolutely anything on twitter.
Shhh I say; I’m writing, Idris, I’ll get to you in a minute – said no woman ever.
There had to be a solution. In January I resolved to fix all the holes in my WIP and that wasn’t going to happen if I was reading Stephen King’s tweets, even if they are brilliant. Can he write a boring shopping list, I wonder? No probably not.
De-socialising my computer was the answer.
This little zone is social free. To prevent any penetration of the online world I do not log into Twitter, Instagram or WordPress on this computer. If I want to check these sites I have to go through the process of putting in my email and remembering the various passwords I used on each. Who wants to do that? There is no quick bookmarks for these sites like there is on my lap top, there is no easy way to get social on this monster. It’s a working beast. It’s my zone. It has Scrivener and Spotify and that’s about it. As soon as my writer self sits down it thinks write, not social. The brain really is trainable.
AND IT WORKS!!
It’s a cute little zone.
It usually has a cup of coffee but I drank it 🙂
The social side, which I enjoy very much is no longer holding me back. That’s on all the other devices. Phone, iPad and laptop are very social.
Here is the social zone hanging out around the lounge. The addictive bullet journal (bujo for the initiates) is waiting for me to finish my writing. My lap top is the fun online space. It has none of the responsibility of the desk top. I think the big one resents its fun little cousin so I keep them apart.
And there you have it. My solution to getting work done. It took some will power but now it’s habit and I will do a post on the book I read that helped me implement habits soon, but now it’s time to write.
Just before Christmas, my friend and colleague Ashley Stokes was interviewed by Cheryl Whittaker at Mash Stories. The title of the article was ‘Can You Really Teach Me how to Write?’ This is a good piece on writing and teaching and well worth checking out. To give Cheryl her due, she was taking the counter position – as, obviously, was Ashley – and arguing affirmatively against the common barrier statement that ‘You can’t teach a person how to write; they either have it, or they don’t.’ This she ascribed to ‘those possessive over their field, wanting to maintain a certain elitism.’ While I applaud Cheryl’s commitment to Michel Foucault’s theory of power and discourse, it seemed to me that this misconception is actually much more widespread and commonplace than that (while allowing that she’s spot on about elitism in some quarters, naming no names). Every time the subject…