Finding a space to write that works often depends on who you are. I find that as a somewhat introverted person with ADD, I need a place where I won’t be distracted. If there are people around me talking, I’ll end up listening to them talk even if I have no interest in what they’re talking about. Most of the time I can’t listen to music while writing either for much the same reason, I’ll focus on the music rather than what I’m trying to do with the written word. One exception to this is when I’m writing about the recording I’m listening to or the genre in general because then the split focus serves the purpose of the written piece. Ironically enough noise in and of itself doesn’t necessarily distract my thought process.
For the past three months the street that runs past the front of our house has been under construction with all sorts of heavy digging equipment creating a cacophony that has even shaken the house from the impacts of some of the equipment. Despite this I’ve been able to focus on my work. Granted, some of the repetitive noises, like the jackhammer, do disrupt my train of thought but for the most part I’ve been able to ignore those sounds and maintain my focus. I think part of this is due to the lack of language, whether it is actual human language, musical or otherwise. My optimal environment for writing, however, is a quiet house when I am alone. This permits me to maintain my focus and get things rolling.
As my readers know, I periodically do self-challenges where I set a daily word count target and commit to writing every day for a set number of days. In the past this has been in one-month blocks. Currently I am working through a two-month block. When I’ve done these challenges I have ended up learning and expanding upon what I find possible. For instance I never thought that I’d be able to write essays as a passenger in a car during a road trip, particularly with a kid in the car as well, however I found out that I can two years ago when we traveled from Illinois to the Black Hills of South Dakota by car when I did my first month long writing challenge. During that trip I also learned that my assumptions about my prime writing times, mornings, was really a myth; I could write just as well in the afternoons. I’d always thought that by the afternoon my ideas and thought process were too polluted by my day to be productive, but I was wrong. I also learned that I could write in the evenings as well, but there fatigue definitely plays a role that makes it much more difficult for me.
Overall I’ve found that the most difficult thing about writing is actually sitting down and doing it. Once I’m in the chair and I have committed to focusing on the task at hand I’m good. Even on a bad day I can fill the page with something that might be of use at some other time as long as I actually get myself into the chair in front of the computer and start setting my brain free. Most of the time I do fart around a bit before I get down to the nuts and bolts of it. I’ll look over my social media account, check my email, run through a mahjong board or two and then get to it. Sometimes things I see on social media boards will influence me to write something that has a definite political slant but I’ve found that doing a puzzle or two clears my head and then I can get moving with my actual purpose in sitting down to begin with.
Currently I’m sitting on a folding chair, feet propped up on another to support my laptop, in a shaded portion of the front driveway of my in-laws’ place in Palm Beach Gardens. The rest of the extended family is inside or outback, talking, eating breakfast, playing games, and catching up with each other. There was absolutely too much going on for me to focus on what I needed to do, so I had to find my “room with a view.” Who would have thought it would be tucked in a shady spot under the live oaks and palms between a big old Mercury Grand Marquis and the garage? Finding that space is something that we all do when we sit down to write and what might be distracting for me might be fertile ground for another. Some folks go to coffee shops to find their muse. It all comes down to where we can be productive.