There are a number of factors that come into play when one undertakes writing. Anybody that has ever struggled to craft an essay or creative piece will know this. Writing is not something where you can just fire up the laptop and get on with it. It requires a particular mindset – and there are so many things that can deter that mindset. Deadlines. Hunger. Tiredness. Lack of motivation or inspiration. Loud sounds or unfinished jobs. I could easily go on.
Sure, these things can affect any type of work you do. But writing is different from most other endeavours because if just one of these factors are present in a writer’s consciousness at the time of execution, the overall quality of the final text can be jeopardised. Suddenly, what could have been a literary masterpiece could just as easily end up as a sodden, unfathomable mess. I speak from experience. But there is something you can do about this. No matter what else is going on in your life, you can always take necessary steps to ensure that one core feature is fit for purpose: your writing environment. It probably goes without saying, but if you want your work to be the best that it could be, the space in which you carry out your writing must be without fault.
Some writers can work more effectively under imperfect conditions than others; yet regardless of one’s personal levels of tolerance, everybody has their own vision of what the ideal writing environment consists of. And I’m guessing that in all those visions, a screaming baby (for instance) is nowhere to be seen. With this in mind, what does need to craft the best possible environment for writing? Below, I have outlined some suggestions on how to accomplish this. I strongly believe that if you can put these elements into practice during your next writing session, you’ll succeed in shaping your perfect work space.
1) Detach yourself from the outside world
I mean this in the most figurative sense; but at the same time, there’s also no harm in taking it literally. Especially when writing is involved. The truth of the matter is that the world is full of unwelcome distractions. When your writing duties call – unless you lock yourself in an empty room – it’s near impossible to physically remove yourself from all external irritations. So, what’s the solution? Shield yourself from distractions by creating your own invisible bubble. If you can find a way to drown out everything around you so that you’re focused solely on your writing, you can accomplish much more in a shorter space of time. I achieve this through the use of music. Whether I’m in a café, on the train from work or just at home, simply by popping in some earphones and listening to an album, I can effectively ignore the rest of the world. This technique doesn’t work for everyone, however – as for some of us, music itself can be a severe distraction. In this case, a basic pair of ear plugs would suffice. As long as you can remove fellow commuters from the equation, your bubble will remain intact.
2) Surround yourself with potential inspiration
Mood rooms are a weird concept on paper, but at its core lies an authentic way to aid your writing. Horror icon, Stephen King tells us that ‘good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky.’  When it comes to writing, it’s the most random of objects that can spark your creativity. So, while you may not have dedicated inspiration room at your disposal, you can still fill your immediate environment with items to help you generate ideas. If you own an intriguing object – or an image, a quote, anything loosely related to what you’re writing about – then bring it along to your workspace. You never know what it could bring to life.
3) Place temptation out of reach
If you know of anything that might hinder your writing progression, deal with it before you sit down. Put it out of sight and out of mind. This goes for everything from that last slice of carrot cake on the kitchen side to your attention-seeking housecat outside the door. Having said this, there’s one specific culprit you need to put to rest before everything else; something that can be both essential and deadly to a writer. The internet. For research purposes, it’s one of the best resources known to humanity. But as soon as your research is complete – and all that’s left to do is write the damn thing – the internet becomes your nemesis. These days, you can access the web through your PC, smartphone, tablet, watch, games console. And the digital world is full of temptations waiting to tear you away from your writing and turn you into a procrastination addict. Consequently, there’s only one thing you can do to prevent this. Turn it off. Don’t just close all your apps or put your phone in your pocket. If it won’t inconvenience anyone else, go to your router, press the power button and refuse to press it again until you’ve written everything you planned to write that day. As extreme as it sounds, it’s for the best. When you come to re-read your work and realise it’s not actually complete nonsense, you’ll be glad you practised this restraint.
4) Make sure you’re comfortable
Now before you jump to conclusions, this doesn’t mean climbing into bed, wrapping yourself in your duvet and remaining there all afternoon. It turns out there is such a thing as being too comfortable. Ideally, you should attempt to find a happy medium; a position which won’t result in aching limbs, but also won’t prompt you to stay put for too long. I’ve been able to carry out my writing in less than welcome circumstances in the past, yet I find I always produce my best work when I sit down and think, “You know what. I could get used to this.” However, your bodily comfort is just half the story. You should also make sure your brain is equally comfortable. If you take a break from your work every other minute, you won’t get much actual writing done. This is obvious. Yet staring at the computer screen or writing pad for hours on end isn’t going to aid your performance either. Therefore, when you reach a pivotal stage in your piece, don’t feel bad about taking a step back and having a five-minute breather. This could mean a quick toilet break, boiling the kettle, simply stretching your legs – whatever suits you best. But once those five minutes are up, get straight back to writing. The longer your break, the harder it will be to return to your desk.
That’s all there is to it. If you can apply this advice into your writing routine, you may just find that the next collection of words you create is better than anything that has come before it. This is no guarantee, of course. Only you have the power to transform that blank Word document on your screen into a flawless work of literature. These four steps, however, may just help you on your way. Good luck.
 King, Stephen (2000) On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, London: Hodder & Stoughton, pp. 29