This is a post by Novel Publicity President, Emlyn Chand/ Some writers can make magic happen anywhere and under almost any condition. Others must meticulously set the perfect scene before they can produce even a single line of prose. With time, you will learn exactly what works for you and what doesn’t. Just remember, everyone is different, and your tastes and preferences are likely to change depending on what you’re writing, how you’re feeling, or even what the weather is like outside.
Here are some environmental elements that, when accounted for, may help you maximize your writing productivity:
Location: You will need to find a place that allows for maximum focus. This may be locked away in your home office, at work after hours, on your front porch — basically anywhere that works for you. Perhaps you will prefer to write at one location during the day and another during the night. I, personally, like to hole up in Borders for hours at a time. While the come-and-go of other patrons and grinding of blended coffees might be distracting in a smaller shop, I find that it all combines nicely into a sort of motivational white noise.
Time of day: Some of us are morning people, others not so much. For writing, it’s important to find a time of day when you have enough energy to sit and get some work done, but not so much energy that your mind is racing and you can’t stay on task. You may have to adjust your schedule to accommodate your energy levels. If you find yourself the most vital in the wee hours of the morning, wake up an hour earlier. If this simply isn’t possible, consider waking up early on the weekends and getting some longer sessions in before the rest of your household awakens. My preference is for writing in the afternoon, but I’ve found I can write any time as long as I have the rest of my environmental factors in line.
Duration: We’re all busy — some of us more so than others. Other life demands may push writing into the “like to” rather than the “need to” category. The truth is even a few minutes per day, if industrious, can suffice. Once you get into a comfortable routine, you may relegate other tasks to “like to” status in order to squeeze in slightly longer writing sessions. Duration should be determined by how much time you have and how much time you can realistically focus before mental exhaustion starts to interfere with the quality of your output. When I first started novel writing, I found it difficult to write more than three pages at a stretch. After having built up my stamina for a few months, it became possible for me to write thirty reasonably well-crafted pages at a stretch.
Company: Are you easily distracted by the company of others, or does a fellow writer sitting next to you manically clacking away at the keyboard serve to motivate you? Writing can be done in complete solitude or while keeping company with others — whatever helps to get it done. I have a hard time keeping quiet if I’m with a friend, even if we’re supposed to be working. Since this interrupts both parties’ productivity, I prefer to write alone. If you are able to control your urge to chat, a companion can assist in ensuring that you meet a time or output goal before ending your writing session. You will also have a readily available proofreader—another plus.
Comforts: Talismans, fuel and creature comforts cannot be ignored. Do you have a lucky sweater or a favored fountain pen? Do you find that your prose is more polished if you secure the leather club chair in the far Northwest corner of the coffeehouse? I, personally, cannot write without a caffeine source of some sort. For longer sessions, sugary baked goods help give me a quick energy boost (writing is not diet-friendly for me, I’m afraid). I also tend to be far more productive if I work on my laptop rather than my PC— this is still true even when I decide to write at home. If you don’t have quirky writing traditions yet, just give it some time.
Emlyn Chand was born with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Novel Publicity’s mascot is a Sun Conure, thanks to her obsession with birds–and she gets to decide anyway since she is the company’s founder and president. Although her first novel Farsighted won the prestigious Writer’s Digest Self-Published Novel of the Year award in 2012 for the YA category, she now writes most of her fiction under her “real” name, Melissa Storm. Learn more or connect with her (or her Sun Conure, Ducky!) on either of her author websites: www.emlynchand.com or www.melstorm.com. You can also friend her on Facebook, tweet with her @novelpublicity, or send her an email via email@example.com.