As an aspiring author you’re going to be chained to your desk a veeery long time. Owning a laptop might give you some flexibility, but it’s important either way to have a place to work where you feel comfortable and focused. The following aspects are the ones I find most important.
Your main workplace
Owning a desk or at least some space that you dedicate solely for your work helps immensely. You’ll be less inclined to be distracted, which improves your concentration and focus. Another important aspect to consider is your preferred desk arrangements. Do you like a clear and organized workspace or do you prefer some level of creative chaos? If you prefer the latter, which I can fully understand, then you still want to keep in mind that searching for a lost pen or dying for some space to put a paper hurts your productivity. Just make sure you have a little empty space to actually work.
Now create some dedicated space for your work and organize it to your preferred work style if you haven’t done that already.
I’m not talking about complete and utter silence, more about peace and quiet. There is nothing more annoying than a well thought out sentence lost, because of some kind of interruption. Thoughts are fickle and easily fade away when not put on paper (or computer) on time.
If you live together with other people, be it spouse or children or siblings or whoever, make sure you get uninterrupted writing time. Sometimes this means writing when there simply are no other people around or it means communicating your need for some quiet time. Maybe you can find some time when noone is awake yet or everyone is asleep already or when the kids are at school or outside to play. Otherwise you may need to talk to them or make some form of „appointment“ to get your special time. As the owner of a laptop you’re privileged, because you can just grab it and go somewhere else: the balcony, garden or maybe a nearby park or forest.
Another source of interruption is, you guessed it, your smartphone. Turn it off, put it away or at least turn it to silent (or air plane!) mode. Just be aware that silent mode doesn’t help much if you, like me, tend to look at it every few minutes. Try to put it out of sight.
For someone who loves working with music, I recommend to prepare your playlists ahead of time. Otherwise you may use your precious working time in search of fitting music. If you want sounds that fit different moods, you can create different lists, like something romantic for those love scenes, epic sounds for fights and emotional ones for sad moments.
Instrumental music doesn’t distract you like music with lyrics do.
If you don’t like working with music, but you can’t stand the silence either, you can use Websites like noisli or ambient-mixer who produce a wide range of environmental noises, or you can search youtube for ambiences in a huge variety of scenes. You can even ‘visit’ fictional places of novels and movies like Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings.
You like the song of birds? No problem. You prefer the sound of rain and thunder? Just search for it and you’ll find something you like. Try it 🙂
Prepare your materials
There is nothing worse than interrupted flow and not getting back into it. To minimize distractions I like to prepare all the things that I might need when working on my project. Some of them are:
Notepad/ empty paper: just to jot down some notes or thoughts.
Writing material: maps, characteristics, plot summary or whatever else you may need to look up.
Pens and other writing material: just make sure they all work and write properly…
Snacks: I’m someone who loses concentration when I get hungry. A bowl of trail mix or some fresh fruits or vegetable sticks go a long way.
Drinks: Prepare your drink of choice: Coffee, tea or water. Drinking enough aids your concentration much more than you might think.
One thing to mention here is good lighting. You’ll be able to work better and you’ll stay alert and concentrated. And it helps to protect your eyes. Ideally you’ll have a place in the sun, though this is probably not very feasible, both time and weather-wise. Though I highly recommend getting a daylight lamp that you can get in a big variety of sizes and prices. If you get a lamp with enough brightness like this one, you can even reap the benefits of a hightened mood.
The last tip I have is actually a ritual of a dear friend who lights a fragrance lamp with essential oils each time she sits down to work. There is an enourmous selection of essential oils on the market, but rosemary, lemon, lavender and peppermint have a positive effect on your concentration.
I hope you got some useful information and actually take these things to heart. Most of the time we already know what we should be doing, but need a reminder to actually take action. Let this be your gentle nudge in the right direction. Also let us know what you think. Are there some tips you can share to make your work life easier? We’re looking forward to hearing from you.
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