One of the complaints I often hear from clients is they find it hard to create the right environment and atmosphere to write.
I’ve been doing story coaching with a writer who is set to release her memoir based on her journals. She needs to finish the book so she could move on to other past due projects. Yet she was finding it hard to sit down and work through the edits sent by the editor. When asked why, she said that she felt that her environment was not one that she could be productive in.
After a talk over some coffee, we were able to get to the root of the problem. My writer client confessed that her partner was not supportive of her writing. She said that he became uneasy each time she picked up her tablet or went into her writing room. She also felt he became angry every time she powered up her computer to work on her book. She also thought he’d had been doing things to sabotage her creative process.
This inspired me to write this post. I want you to meet with your writing because it’s important. I’ve put together a few ideas for creating a supportive environment. You don’t have to be writing a book like my client is to appreciate this post. Anyone who values words and story, who feels at home with pen in hand and thoughts flowing from head and heart to paper will appreciate the tips below.
Write. Write what weighs on your heart, what inspires you, what troubles you, write the story within. Many times we procrastinate and self-sabotage. We do everything but write. This may be so for many reasons. Sometimes, depending on what’s happening with me, I don’t want to ‘go there’. Putting it on paper makes it so real. And there will be times when you’re not quite ready to address what you’re dealing with. That’s fine. Do it when you’re ready.
Some people overthink the writing process. Writing is simple as putting pen to paper, fingers on keyboards and unleashing the thoughts, emotions and ideas within. You don’t have to have survived abuse, a near fatal accident or something ‘grand’ to tell your story. Your story matters, if only to you. Too often we question our stories, we make light of them. We deem them unnecessary, not worth sharing, recording and investigating. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Don’t blame it on writers’ block or lack of inspiration. Our lives are made up of a collection of stories – mundane, exciting and somewhere in between. Tell those stories and when you do, don’t be surprised that they move you to write other stories that come easier.
Research and refine a routine that works for you. I’m working on a book 🙂 And I’d love to get up each morning and write 1,000 words before breakfast and before I do client work. But that rarely happens. It’s all well and good to have plans and schedules when it comes to writing time, but practicality must rule. If you’re not an early riser, don’t force yourself to get up early to write. Chances are, you’re not going to enjoy the process or get much out of it. Similarly, why set a writing schedule during the hours when your energy may be low or you have other things or people competing for your attention? Find the time and the space that supports you best and stick with it, refining along the way, as and if needed. My personal preference is to write first thing in the morning or when I’m already tucked into bed, just before I take the lights out.
Talk to those who put a demand on your time and energy. Have an open discussion with those you share a living space with. We often need the support of the people we live and share our lives with when we are committed to something. There’s so much benefit from developing a journaling practice. Talk to the people you live with and let them understand what you are tying to do. Let them know how they can support by giving you space and time to work on your writing. Let your spouse or partner know that your writing is important to you. Share with him that the time your’e working on your writing or you’re journaling is not the best time to discuss bills, child care or share some office and neighborhood gossip. Just as you respect their time when they are on the job, you need to convey that your writing is as equally important. You may need to repeat it often and enforce it by ignoring all attempts to distract you. You can put a ‘no disturb sign on the door’, refuse to take calls during your writing time, etc.
If you feel you are not getting the support as in the case of my client, you need to find ways to communicate this. It may be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but it needs to be done. Don’t make excuses. Make opportunities to meet with your words. Your writing is important to you. Treat it as the other important things in your life.
Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2017.