Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NaNo Preparations: Your Environment

An original writing desk from Old Faithful Inn

That feeling when you’re immersed in your book...the words are flowing so smoothly you’re barely conscious of typing. You don’t have to figure out what your MC is going to do next because you see it as clearly as if you’re watching a movie. The perfect comeback is rising to your MC’s lips when...

The political pollster calls, the kids ask for a snack, your husband asks, “Are you done yet?” in That Tone of Voice, or the dog needs to go out. It’s going to happen.

I can’t do anything about the unexpected, or even the expected interruptions to my writing. I can’t change my work schedule, my kids’ homework, or all the tiny obligations of daily life. And some of those obligations happen to be the joy of my life, even when they conflict with my writing.

Having a good environment in which to write is important. Although I can’t fix everything, there are three major environmental pitfalls that I want to try to manage this year. If you’re anything like me, it can’t hurt to try.

1. Enlist allies now. Tell everyone who needs your time and attention what you’re going to be doing this November, and what it means to you personally. Hopefully they will encourage you. It will be even better if you both remember what they said when November comes. If they don’t encourage you, well, that’s something to consider. Better yet, write about it.

2. Clean. I clean best when I’m procrastinating, and so I’m going to get on top of it now to eliminate that temptation. Besides the usual mop-scrub-wipe, the plan is to spend fifteen minutes at a time this week on a few projects, including my dreaded, paper-covered desk. If you try to get some extra cleaning done don’t seek perfection, just knock down the big stuff that could demand your attention later on. I know this isn’t true for everyone, but for me chaos stifles creativity.

3. Pick a retreat. Getting “in the mood” to write is something you can cultivate. Besides scheduling writing time, it can help to have a spot dedicated to your novel. Where do you write best? Do you like the white noise of a coffee shop, or silence in a dark corner of your bedroom? Choose the place you will go to write, and plan to go there every day. My writing spot is in my dining room, surrounded by bookkeeping work and energetic, loud family members, and that’s just the way it is. But I put on my favorite fluffy socks and pick certain songs I only listen to while writing. I even have a certain scented candle. I’m going for a Pavlovian response, and sometimes it works.

What do you do to make a place and time for your writing?

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