As I was staring at a blank page, my cursor blinking at me with a mocking, incessant rhythm, I began thinking about how I pull myself out of a writing slump. Apart from banging my head against the wrist pad in front of my keyboard, how do I set myself up for success?

My desk is a mess, but it’s my mess. I know immediately if an item has been moved. I have preferences for where I write, how I write, and things to inspire me back into a creative mood.

Today, I’m going to discuss how to harmonize with your space, make it work for you instead of against you.

Setting a mood

You can create a writing mood by tacking up art that inspires you or creating a playlist in your preferred music program. Music helps center me, so I always have music playing every single time I write. Some people prefer to write to soundtracks or music with no lyrics. Other people, like myself, find that listening to the same ten songs on repeat, despite the lyrics, can create a positive, writer-friendly atmosphere. Either way, find a system that inspires you.

Also, invest in a comfortable pair of headphones, ones you could wear for hours. This helps if you have other people in your house. Playing background music to drown out any distracting noises helps create a specific mood.

Using a writing program (or paper)

We have our own styles of working. I alter mine quite frequently. Some days, I use Scrivener’s plain white space with black text. My full screen version of Scrivener is blue with white text. I grew up on an MS Dos writer, one with a similar screen and text. Writing this way is nostalgic for me and provides a different atmosphere, depending on what I need in that moment.

I have also used quite a bit in my writing. I kept the black background with green text and use the typewriter sound. Pending on my mood, hearing the tapping keys can help focus me. I get into a steady rhythm, along with the music. This writing program is also relatively mobile friendly, so I can log in on my phone if need be.

Something I wish would work better for me is paper. I’ve tried, numerous times. I know plenty of authors who write entire manuscripts by hand. I marvel at these authors, because my brain travels too far ahead for my hands to catch up. I write 60-80 wpm on the keyboard, which allows quick and free writing. If I attempt to write that fast by hand, I end up with terrible, messy handwriting that I cannot decipher. But this method does work for writers, so find one that works for you.

If you are distracted easily by the internet, find a way to disconnect yourself. I have a typewriter for such an occasion.

Keeping it stress-free

Stress can kill any creative atmosphere. Maintaining a stress-free environment might be one of the hardest tasks, but it’s vital to writing. I use my computer as my financial tracker as well as my writing machine. Finances stress a lot of people out, myself included. If I have to balance my bank account, I write either before or hours after I’ve done this task. Doing anything creative after dealing with stress typically makes my words strained. Maybe I’m writing a romantic creative scene, but why are the characters getting into an argument? That’s not supposed to happen! Well, if I’m in a terrible mood, it will come across in my writing.

If I have no choice and I have to write close to a stressful situation, I’ll focus on a dramatic scene. Then, if my frustration comes out in my writing, it helps instead of hinders the scene. Use your situation to your advantage. You can write non-chronologically.

And, of course, you should have some item in your writing space that makes you insanely happy. I have this cat watercolor print by Laura DeVito called “Miffed.” This cat makes me ridiculously happy. I’m still not sure why it invokes a good mood, but it does. The print hangs above my computer, watching over me whenever I need a good smile.

Your writing space, wherever you choose to write, should work for you, not against you. So next time you find yourself in a writing slump, try changing something in your environment. Maybe you need a piece of paper instead of a keyboard, or a soundtrack instead of ambient noise.

Good luck, fellow writers. And keep writing! NaNoWriMo is still in full swing, and I am participating (messy desk and all). Feel free to add me: radesilets.

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