All of us have our own rituals and specifications to help us tap into our creative selves and maximize our productivity. Type in “how to make a writing space” into Google and you’ll get almost three hundred million results on creating your dream environment, and that’s great. An ideal writing space is a wonderful, precious thing. But, what about writing under less-than-idyllic conditions?
Let me offer an example. I work in a warehouse during the day, and our break room is tiny, cramped, and very noisy. People enter and exit, microwaves go off, phones ring, and conversations transpire in a variety of languages. Seating is limited, so having a table to myself is a rare occurrence, and my co-workers like to ask about what I’m writing. Some occasionally try to sneak a peak.
It’s far from my ideal writing environment, yet I take a notebook to work and write in there every day during my lunch break. It’s a balancing act between chatting with my co-workers, preparing my food, and putting pen to paper, but over the course of this year I’ve gotten better and better at making those precious minutes count.
Sound impossible? Not at all! Here are some tips and tricks for writing in difficult spaces:
- Be prepared for a transitional period.
Adjusting to a new environment takes time. False starts will happen, and that’s okay. The key is to dust yourself off, trust in your skill, and keep trying.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up.
Courtesy is important in any workplace, particularly when space is limited. If someone is being too loud, politely ask them to moderate their volume, or to listen to their music with headphones instead of playing it out in the open. Likewise, if anyone gets pushy about trying to see your work, stand your ground. Just because you’re writing in a public space doesn’t make your work public domain. Of course, if you’re comfortable sharing with the person inquiring, go ahead!
- Create your own space.
If you like listening to music when you write, bring headphones to work. It’s a great way to bring a little bit of your writing environment with you.
- Don’t think you have to choose between writing and camaraderie.
In most workplaces, lunchtime is social time. It’s a time to recharge your batteries, get the latest gossip, and indulge in a good old-fashioned rant about management’s latest antics. Afraid of missing out or appearing aloof? Fear not! It is possible to be sociable and get some writing done at the same time. Again, this will take some getting used to if you’re used to writing in an isolated environment. Balance and practice will help you make the adjustment.
- Remember, every word matters.
Some days you might write a sentence, while other days you might whip up a soliloquy. Either way, give yourself a pat on the back! You wrote something, and that’s what counts.
What do you do to make the most out of difficult writing conditions? Share your stories and suggestions in the comments below!
Meredith Foster currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her flash fiction and short stories have been published in numerous literary magazines. She shares her home with a vampire-fanged rescue cat and a plush dragon collection, and can be found at @fosterwrites on Twitter.