What comes to mind when someone asks your go-to writing spot? How about your ideal writing environment? Do you thrive beneath the flow of conversation, or alone in a noiseless room? Do you have a designated table? Perhaps a favorite room?
I’m lucky enough to have an office with a door that I can close in the evenings and on Saturdays. It’s a lot easier to separate work from play when there’s a physical threshold to step over. But even then, I need my phone on silent and flipped facedown. I either need complete silence or a podcast, depending on the type of writing I’m doing. I need my cat to be fed and a mug of coffee next to me. Maybe a snack.
This is my bubble. Only writing can happen here. I don’t text or read, I (usually) don’t check Facebook. Whether there’s quiet or background noise, once I’m in that zone, there’s no coming out of it until I’ve completed my designated task (usually writing).
Maybe for you it’s a specific location. Or with a specific laptop or writing utensil. Maybe your writing bubble can only be summoned on Sunday afternoons when you’re ready to tackle the week ahead and the only thing left to do is tell stories to yourself.
It doesn’t matter who is or isn’t with you, whether or not you have to wear noise-canceling headphones, what you have to be wearing (e.g., fuzzy slippers). What matters most is that you not only create a specific compartment in your life designated specifically for writing, but that you use it regularly. Keep it literally or figuratively organized (even if your definition of “organized” is a mess). Wear down the furniture. Leave empty coffee cups or candy wrappers around not to make it look used, but as proof that it’s actively yours.
Some writers feel most at home in coffee shops. Some, on bedroom floors. But it’s not the space itself that makes them a writer — it’s what they do when they’re in it.
Do what you must to make your space usable, not just comfortable. Make sure that when you enter your bubble, you’re prepared to work. And follow through with what you have planned, whether you’re outlining or emailing, writing or revising. Always be doing something, no matter how big or small, in the place meant for these things to be done.
And don’t be afraid to expose your bubble to subtle or drastic changes every now and then. Sometimes, a break in your routine — a new table, a different room — can also break you out of a seemingly endless cycle of non-productivity.
Regardless of any advice I can give, your own personal writing bubble is yours to do with what you please. It’s up to you to build and rearrange it in any way that promotes creativity, structure, and productivity for you. It’s no one else’s space to claim. Here, it’s only you, and your words, and the thoughts and ideas that come before them.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.