by Will Viharo
If you’re an independent writer/publisher, most of your work life takes place in cyberspace. That’s where all your DIY tools are located, easily accessible and user-friendly.
But your actual workplace/office is just as crucial to your success, because it helps put you in the right mindset for whatever tasks are on your agenda, any given day.
Your immediate surroundings will impact your output. So customize them accordingly…
Choosing and creating inspirational surroundings for your writing workday may sound simple, and most of the time, it is.
In my case, I had to move from the Bay Area all the way to Seattle, because I actually prefer cool, cloudy weather to warm sunshine. I realize I’m in the minority, so I’m not recommending it. Just giving you an example of how individual this decision is, varying according to various moods, personalities and physical limitations.
Since most of your time as a writer is spent indoors, your outside environs may not seem like a significant factor when designating your perfect place to live and work. But speaking strictly for myself, I found this relocation extremely beneficial. Within a year and a half of the move north, I wrote and published two new novels, four anthologies of my older work, and several short stories.
Of course, many people are already happy where they live. Even if you’re not, you may not be able to just pack up and move to your dream city like I did (which wasn’t easy, trust me).
So meantime, focus on what is within your power to change: your home office, even if it’s in the kitchen.
Front Row Seat To Your Own Imagination
Besides a computer with Internet access, you need something to put it on, preferably a sturdy table, with a comfortable chair. I finally sprang for a plush swivel chair (which my cats have made their own, tearing up much of the leather, sigh) since I found spending hours typing away often resulted in sore shoulders and lower back cramps. So whatever you’re sitting in, make sure it won’t bend your spine or make you hunch over in painful, unnatural ways.
Maintaining your physical health is just as important as keeping your mental faculties sharp, even though writing is a sedentary occupation and not an athletic pursuit. Actually, that’s exactly why you need to force yourself to take breaks, get up and stretch, go for a walk, etc., to keep in good shape, inside and out.
“I’ve Gotta Be Me!”
If you work in an office for your day job, you’ve probably noticed co-workers decorating their desks and cubicles with various photos, knickknacks, souvenirs, etc., all of which helps them maintain a sense of themselves apart from their career.
In a writer’s case, your career and your personal lives are probably more closely intertwined, especially since many writers draw on their own experiences for creative inspiration.
So without cluttering up your work space too much (unless that’s just your personal style statement), you should ensconce yourself in items that influence your muse. This can mean action figures of your favorite super heroes, framed photos of your loved ones (even “the one that got away,” since great art often results from heartbreak), copies of your published books so you know your next one is feasible too – basically, anything that stirs your soul. And fits on your desk.
Music can be a powerful muse, too, so whether it’s your iTunes library or your old LP record player, give your work a “soundtrack” that echoes and augments your internal musings, even if you’re too busy to actually pay attention (which you should be).
Or you can just sit and stare into space listening to it when you hit a wall or just need to rest your brain and fingers a bit. If you’ve selected the right tunes, your artistic adrenalin will soon start pumping again.
Even your desktop screen saver should provide some kind of image that expresses “you.” As an example, this is mine:
In summation: when you’re sitting down in front of your computer, ready to write, you want to feel like you’re in control of your own world. This world. The one you create. And it should reflect everything about you that you want to share with the world outside your window.
Even if it’s raining.
Next: Monetizing your social platforms
PHOTO: KATE TER HAAR