Fireside Chat: A Formula for Finding Your Ideal Writing Environment

Posted by in Writing

We spoke a while back about the need for a space to write. A dedicated area, be it an entire room, a corner, a chair, even a stair on the back porch, to write. A place you can always return to to get yourself in the right mindset. I have not yet pinned down that space for myself.. though visions of it haunt me daily. Instead, I’ve simply been going outdoors. First, it was a cozy space in the back yard… but facing the back fence got old very fast. Then it was a chair in the front yard, but that scenery gets old quickly too. Now Ive taken to walking down to the university and relaxing (or trying to) in the grass. In search of the perfect space Ive ran into hornet infested areas, far too-frequented quasi gardens, and now a space where the ants think I’m part of the scenery. Needless to say, I haven’t been entirely successful yet. I probably spend more time trying to find a space to get comfortable than I do actually writing… and that is not a win.

So my instincts are telling me I may need to retreat to my home again. A place that is hardly conducive to order, let alone peace. But I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday, in discussing the issue with my husband… it may be as much the space as it is the time.

In a recent video post I discussed finding your writing sweet spot… which is basically, finding the optimum time of day to write. In the video, I focused on the internal… when are you most inspired, etc. But in reflecting upon my own struggles to find balance and a time and a space to write, suddenly the idea came full circle. And it’s so obvious, you’ll laugh. The formula is simple:

Comfortable, Dedicated Space + Optimal Time for Inspiration + Optimal Time for No Distractions = The Ideal Writing Environment

I know, it’s silly right? Of course that’s the ideal formula! You already knew that. But for me, it was so simple, it went right over my head. I have been struggling to find a space… and I realize now that I’ll need at least one indoors, considering weather conditions, and one outdoors, considering… well, life conditions, but I also need to find the best *time* both for ME and for my FAMILY for me to write. That’s right, their needs matter too. Sometimes. Haha!

To be clear, my needs as a writer come first… what that means is: the hour of inspiration is non-negotiable. Every writer has an internal sweet spot… an optimum time to write, when they feel most inspired. And for the vast majority of us, there’s little you can do about that. On the other hand, we all have family obligations of one kind of another… kids to tend to, jobs to get to, spouses to accommodate, parents to assist. Very few of us are so unlucky (?) as to be all alone. If you’re blessed these times complement one another. If you’re not, you may need to make adjustments. In my case, I’m not so lucky and I need to make a few adjustments.

My most inspired time to write is in the wee hours of the morning. I write well, and with more passion and focus, when it’s 3am, than I ever could at 12 in the afternoon. Sadly, I also have a toddler who likes to stay awake til 3am, who gets sudden bouts of voracious hunger and demands peanut butter and jelly, over and over, until she’s stuffed fat, full and totally satisfied. Quite the conundrum and a serious inconvenience.

For the last couple weeks, I have been trying to write in the mornings, usually from 9am to 12pm or later, and avoided waking the kids up til then (to keep the house quiet). Oh, it’s somewhat effective, I write, though not especially well, but the kids’ schedules are totally jacked! The change I need to make is obvious and simple: I have to change my writing schedule to work earlier, this will accommodate the kids needs and my own needs, while allowing me to embrace my natural sweet spot!

So the plan is to start working from 4am to 8am each morning, allowing me to finish up and start the kids’ days at a reasonable hour. Hopefully, this will take care of two elements of that formula: Optimal Time for Inspiration + Optimal Time for No Distractions. So for now, the main challenge will be adjusting my toddler’s schedule… *queue ominous music* pray for me, ya’ll.

{This is a part of the fireside chat series. Casual conversations amongst writers about writing.}

Have you found your writing sweet spot? Do you know your optimal time to reflect and write? Do your internal needs as a writer conflict with your external needs as a parent, spouse, employee, student, etc? Have you begun your quest to find a balance? Looking forward to hearing from you all, can’t wait to see how the schedule shift works out. Til then… thanks, as always, for reading, folks. See you by the fireside.