How to set up the perfect writing conditions, to maximize your potential and creativity.
This is a joke. Not a ha-ha lol kind of joke. More of a wry, sophisticated, “Oh, Noel, you’re such a cad” kind of joke.
That was a joke too.
The point is (I usually have a point, but I’ll be the first to admit I don’t get there in a straight line) that the perfect writing conditions DON’T EXIST and WILL NEVER EXIST.
See that? I’m shouting at you. That’s what those capitals are there for. I am shouting at you to make sure you’re listening. Are you listening?
Would-be writers say stuff like this: “My parents have a little cottage near a lake in Vermont, and at some point, I’m going to take a leave of absence from work and go stay there, all by myself, and write like a fiend.”
Published writers say this: “I got up at five in the morning for two years so I could squeeze in a couple of hours of writing before I had to go to work.”
Would-be writers say this: “I have a great idea, but I need to know I’m going to have a lot of time to really focus on it before I can get started.”
Published writers say stuff like this: “I wrote when the older kids were at school and my youngest kid was taking a nap.”
Would-be writers say this: “I need a quiet office all to myself, with a clean desk to work on.”
Published writers say this: “I have a laptop and I’ll work wherever there’s space and whenever I get a free minute.” Or sometimes simply: “Where’s the closest Starbucks?”
I’m generalizing here, of course. (It’s what I do best.) There are probably tons of published authors who did clear a lot of time and space to work and a bunch of never published writers who frantically worked whenever they could. But still . . .
Published author #2 in the above scraps of dialogue was me, by the way. I wrote my first published novel, Same As It Never Was, when I had no daytime babysitting help, my two oldest kids were in elementary school, my daughter was in preschool, and my youngest son was six months old. I wrote most of it when he took his mid-morning nap because the others were all out of the house then. And I’ve never enjoyed writing more. I’d think about what I wanted to write when I was driving or rocking a kid to sleep or doing the dishes or whatever task allowed my brain to roam freely, and then as soon as I had an hour to myself, I dashed over to the computer and wrote it down. It was so much fun.
Best of all, there was no emotional burden on me to be productive. I mean, if you take three weeks off from work to go stay in some desolate country estate somewhere, you’re going to be paralyzed with the need to churn out a bestseller. Ever seen The Shining? That’s what happens to authors who try to create the perfect writing conditions. It’s too much pressure.
So don’t wait for the stars to align. If you have an idea and a free minute or two, try to dash something off. If you get interrupted, don’t sweat it: the words will still be there when you come back (so long as you hit save of course). And don’t forget that Jane Austen supposedly wrote at a tiny little high desk in the corner of the living room of a very busy household. And I’ve been told her books aren’t half bad.