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Bob Nailor

Beyond Writing

There is more to writing than placing a stream of conscious thought to paper. I mean there is more than just putting a bunch of typed words together and making sure an editor has blessed it. In fact, it goes even deeper than that!

Writing has many percentages:

The list can go on and on but these particular three caught my attention. Why? Simple.

Writing is NOT 90% procrastination, 30% panic, 10% vision, 90% revision, 20% inspiration and most definitely, 80% perspiration.

Writing is 100% procrastination, 100% panic, 100% vision, 100% revision, 100% inspiration and yes, most definitely 100% perspiration. Just ask any writer.

There is a way to address each of these issues but, truth be told, one solution will address ALL these issues.

Like a realtor mantra - Location! Location! Location!

If your writing space is some common, temporary set up like the kitchen table. Procrastination is most definitely 100%. Think about it — You have to get everything to the table and spread it out and then — Oops! It is time for the next meal. Time to cram all of this writing stuff off to some corner until the next time you finally get up the gumption to write.

Panic works the same way. You've established yourself in the kitchen and you suddenly notice it is almost time for you — I stand corrected, it is now past the time you should have the meal almost ready to feed the family. PANIC!

Perspiration will raise its ugly head. All that work putting out everything so you can write, sweating about what to write and of course, with the above panic, putting everything away. Somehow, 'in an orderly manner' just doesn't seem to fit the description of shoving it onto a shelf so you can feed the family.

Inspiration is realizing the idea. Vision is having the ability to grasp the idea and place it to paper. Revision is taking the time to make sure it is stated in the best way possible. IF any of the three is not done with 100% involvement, then they are not given the due respect needed.

So, what is the solution? I stated Location.

Create an area where you can have your WIP (Work In Progress) spread out with notes, pictures, whatever at your fingertips. Yes, the kitchen table could be considered 'an area' but the table is also used for meals, crafts, homework, and a myriad of other activities. Having your writing area there means it is of a temporary measure with the possibility of more time spent setting up and tearing down. Hence, procrastination raises it ugly head to deter your goal — Do you really want to take the time to get it all out on the table just to put it back?

Here are some possible solutions to "Location" choices.

With one of the above, you can go from lavish with a nice desk, comfortable chair that leans back and has wheels to just a simple four-foot wide area with a drop-down front. Or anywhere in between. Remember, writing is about being comfortable with your surroundings.

Why is that? Your surroundings will induce your imagination and with that, your productivity will increase. Also, by creating a full-time work place, you are able to walk away and come back — your ideas, notes, pictures will all be waiting for you.

You want to make sure your work space has a few simple items to make your writing easier. Sure, everyone remembers their laptop or computer, and of course, the printer. But there are a couple of other things that you'll want. Strangely enough, one will be pencils and erasers. Even if you use a computer, laptop or even a typewriter, you will still want to make notes, hence a pencil. You'll make corrections so you'll want an eraser. Of course, you'll also need scratchpads. I use the back of printouts for this since my printer is not a duplex printer to use both sides. Another item you might want to consider - a cork board and thumbtacks. Some sticky pads, cellophane tape and paper clips will be nice, too.

All the above are nice things to have but here's a few that will help with inspiration. Music - either via a tape recorder, CD player or online. I use headphones which also eliminates a lot of extraneous sounds. Dependent upon my writing, I listen to ambient sounds like the ocean to regular music covering many different styles like rock, underground, classical and musicals. Also consider a candle or some form of air freshener. I enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the morning but too much caffeine late in the day keeps me up at night. Ah-ha! I have a scented candle (Hazelnut Cafe) which every so often gives me a rush of fresh coffee smell without the caffeine overdose.

What other items do you feel are needed for work space?

  Click to add a comment - say something!


Kenna McKinnon
Nice, Bob, I'm fortunate to have a home office as that's what I do for my day job (I work at home). Also use a yellow lined pad of what we used to call foolscap, or a writing paper that's quite inexpensive. I would add to your list a window to gaze out of (hard to do if you write in a closet!), perhaps a box of index cards, and a couple of file folders or a computer subfolder that's labeled "cheat sheets". Virginia Woolf wrote a book of essays entitled "A Room of One's Own"...especially for women but very apropos for a man, as well, and I agree, the kitchen table is not a desk.

Bob Nailor
Thank, Kenna, for the great idea. Folders and index cards are definitely a plus!

Bob Nailor
Thank, Kenna, for the great idea. Folders and index cards are definitely a plus!

Tara Fairfield
Environment is so important and for me, I have to be comfortable and free from interruptions. People who have never been through the process don't realize how much time and effort go into the finished product. Appreciate your wisdom Bob!

Onisha Ellis
I like the colors on thsi page! Easy for me to read.

Bob Nailor
Trying to make it easier for everyone.

Diane Rapp
Needed: a lock on the door to keep distractions (family) out while concentrating. I don't use the lock but I do shut the door and hope nobody starts bleeding while I'm in the zone.

I use the pile method of organizing. Never disturb my piles! I'm in a separate room with a nice view of the lake and music available. My dog sits at my feet guarding against those who might disturb me. My hubby has learned to sneak in and stand quietly until I reach a spot where I can look up to find out what he desperately needs. Lunch? Well he knows how to spread peanut butter on bread...most of the time.

Scott Bury
Great analysis. I think, however, that it all comes down to delaying tactics. Writing is hard work, and it's so easy to find a reason not to do it.
Setting up a consistent writing space removes so many of those reasons not to write, so you have to admit that you're just being lazy by not writing.
Thanks for the tips - although I have my doubts about the tent in warm weather.

Diane Rapp
I work in a guest room so I don't need to put stuff away when I need to get up and take care of meals. When I'm really in the zone, I close the door and my hubby is told not to interrupt me unless he's bleeding. He believes bleeding is a relative term meant to encompass any stress he's having that day. Oh well. I get back in the zone pretty fast.

Charles Dougherty
Until recently, I wrote at the chart table on our sailboat. It wasn't ideal, but it was the place that I had.

I wrote my first book there inspiration, on looseleaf paper; it took me over a year. Over the course of several books, I moved to a paper-free process. All I need is my laptop and an iPad, and I can knock out a couple of thousand words a day almost anywhere now.

The iPad lets me doodle, sketch ideas, mark-up proof pages in PDF with a stylus, and even write. I've written a couple of my books on just the iPad. The beauty of it is that I never lose those little scraps of paper any more.

I agree with all your other comments, though - procrastination, frustration, panic, perspiration, and persistence -- gotta have all those.

Diane Rapp
You should see my desk right now! No, you couldn't possibly see it with all the stacks of tax stuff spread out. I really need my space back, so getting those dreaded taxes done is high priority. I procrastinate by working on a blog. LOL