Wednesday, April 19, 2017

# On Writing # Post

Setting the Stage: Feng Shui Tips for Your Writing Space

On Select Wednesdays, I post tips and strategies for writers. 

by J. Rose Allister

Setting the stage for your next book begins before you ever sit down to outline a character, setting, or plot. Writers  often hear talk about the right "mindset," that elusive state of thought that plunges one into a world where creativity and productivity soar. One of the best ways to set the stage for a writing mindset is to surround yourself with a writing space that is conducive to workflow. Let's consider two scenarios to demonstrate.

Scenario 1: A mystery writer is eager to work on their first book. They have pages of notes that they wrote while making dinner the night before. They sit down, ready to work...but first they have to move stacks of mail to make room for their coffee. On top of the pile they see the gas bill and remember that today is the deadline to pay it. Now for those plot notes...where are they again? Oh right, they're in the other room. The writing area is a nook without any dedicated "business" space. The writer hops up and grabs them from the kitchen table, spotting the unwashed dishes on the way back. The space where the laptop is set up at needs dusting, but it's only somewhat noticeable because the light bulb in the nearby lamp is burned out. They set their notes on top of Junior's baby toys and start organizing their thoughts. The cluttered space and all the things that need doing vie for attention. Two halted paragraphs into the writing session, the baby wakes up from his nap and starts crying. The writer sighs and heads off, thinking, "Maybe tomorrow."
Let's consider another scenario.  A writer is tackling a romantic suspense novel. Coffee in hand, they wander to their writing space. The area is dusted, brightly lit, and already set up as a dedicated writing zone. There's a corkboard on the wall with story cards and representative photos of the main characters. An inspirational quote for writers hangs nearby. A scented citrus-scented candle, meant to awaken and sharpen the mind, wafts a nice fragrance in the air. Nothing in the "zone" diverts attention from the work at hand. The writer sits down and brushes off a casual thought about the errands that need to be done later. It's writing time. They get an entire scene hammered out before the baby wakes up.

Thinking of these examples, which writing space would you prefer to tackle your next project in? Having a set space you not only write in, but have set up as a zone conducive to the creative mindset can help immensely. Does this mean a corkboard and aromatherapy guarantees a book finished in thirty days? No. Does this mean you can't finish a book while surrounded by household distractions? No again. (I've done it myself--many times over.) But taking a little time in advance of your next writing project to give your spot a "feng shui" makeover can help put you in a more writerly frame of mind. Even the action of setting up the space is important. You're demonstrating how serious you take your commitment to the craft.

There are many factors that go into feng shui philosophy, but here I'm just going to give you some basic makeover advice. 

Feng Shui Tips for Your Writing Space:

1. Make sure your area is brightly lit with no burned out bulbs.
2. Clear all clutter.
3. Dust/mop/vacuum whatever is in your view from the space.
4. Place writing items in this space-neatly.
5. A writing "inspiration" piece or two can help you mentally "purpose" the space for writing. This could be a mug with a writer quote, a wall hanging, your lucky writing hat. Just don't overdo it. Clutter is Enemy #1 for a feng-shui-friendly, mentally enriching environment.
6. Engage the senses-lightly. Include a scented candle or diffuser with a light, pleasant scent (avoid those that are meant for relaxation and sleep, though).
7. Add music or a water feature as pleasant white noise. Music, either themed to the genre of your book or a generic instrumental, can help stimulate the creative side of your brain. Alternatively, you can add a small fountain to the area 
8. Real plants produce brain-stimulating oxygen. A healthy living plant is nice to look at, but also helps clean the air and releases oxygen, so consider adding one to your space. (If you have a brown thumb, however, you might want to skip this. Stressing out over yellowing leaves and watering schedules isn't going to be conducive to writing.

By setting up your writing area like this, even if it's just a tiny corner of a bedroom, you may find you get an immediate mental lift. I hope you find it useful!

What tips do you have for setting up a writing area?
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J. Rose Allister is the author of more than thirty books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night.

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