This post is #5 of a 10 part series in the lead up to a writing conference being hosted by Fiona McIntosh (October 2019). Please follow along with my weekly posts as I share some writing tips and experiences I’ve gained while writing my manuscript and preparing for this wonderful opportunity.

Who loves to travel? Me! I’ve always had aspirations of travelling and writing — I can see myself sitting on a romantic Juliet-style balcony above the glassy blue ocean of Positano, Italy, a warm breeze curling around me as a story just unfurls from my fingertips. This. Is. Not. My. Current. Reality!

Truth bomb: I have an old dining table-turned-desk tucked into a small room at home. There are stacks of my kids’ artwork spilling off of shelves, my husband has a corner for his work gear and I also keep a chaotic system of admin in there. I have, however, managed to shuffle the mess aside and carve out a cute little work space. The more I’ve been writing in there, the more I have created a ‘routine’ that I do before I sit down at the keyboard. 

My writing environment

I have found it helpful to have a dedicated writing space, especially with young kids in the house! I believe having a dedicated space to work from can set the mood to be productive and can help put boundaries in place for others around you too. When it’s my writing time I go to my home office and do a couple of things as part of my writing routine: 

  • Tidy away any mess on my desk — Chefs prep first and clean as they go and I feel like this process helps me too.
  • Set up my laptop and charger — There’s nothing worse than when the battery is low and you have to scramble for the charger!
  • Do a quick read of my whiteboard — This is where I have my goals and word count written (I like to update this like a progress tally).
  • Light a candle — Sounds silly but I adore the warm scent of flowers and spices, and lighting the same candle every writing session sets the mood and triggers my mind into ‘work mode’.
  • Click on some music — Depending on my mood or what I’m writing I’ll set a playlist that runs softly in the background. I’m just one of those people who needs a little background noise. 

The external writing environment

There are plenty of people who like to write outside of their home and I’ve done it a few times too… ah, yes, the cliché writer with the laptop in the local café!

There are some great benefits to getting out and writing in the expected and unexpected places:

  • Story locations — I’ve written a few times from the exact location that my characters live in. Almost always I’ll find little details to include like the smells, sounds or feel.
  • Outdoors — Who doesn’t benefit from a good dose of nature? Sitting in the sun, with a waft of fresh air, is sure to sweep away the cobwebs!
  • Shared workspaces — This concept has really taken off and it’s relatively east to find a hot desk zone or shared work space that allows for any type of freelance worker to drop in and out of. A co-work space is a great way to feel a bit more social and find people to bounce ideas off of — if you trust them!

No environment at all

At the end of the day all that matters is getting the words out. One of the teachers I had at a workshop told us how she doesn’t care where she writes and never needs a fancy spot for inspiration. A deadline or word count goal is enough of a drive to get the writing done. I can appreciate this, after all it’s the actual discipline of sitting down and writing consistently that gets the story moving.

Do you have a favourite place to work from or a little ritual that helps put you in the mood to write? I’d love to know!

J x

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