Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday, February 04, 2013 - 3 comments

Crafting a Writing Habit

One of my New Year's resolutions was to create myself an official writing space in my room.  A contest on in which writers described what was on their writing desks gave me incentive to pull mine together in time to submit an entry.  So, here’s what I came up with.

Until recently, I’ve done most of my writing on my bed, laptop on my lap. But I’ve decided I’ll do better at focusing during my designated writing time if I have an “office” to go to – even if it’s only two feet from said bed.  I’m trying to train my brain to know that when I sit down in my “office,” it’s time to churn out artfully arranged words.  I don’t use that desk for anything but creative writing, and I even went as far as buying a new coffee mug to be used solely during writing sessions.

My freshly transformed desk (which, up until last month, had been mostly one more surface on which to pile my piles) is a wooden desk with a bookshelf attached to the top. I’ve fashioned a dry-erase board out of a large glass picture frame and scrapbook paper underneath to separate it into sections for writing down the names of projects I’m working on and blog posts I want to write, as well as freelance pieces I plan to submit. I’ve also written there the quote by W. Somerset Maugham – “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.” Beside that is a monthly calendar (clipped up with funky clips that I got on Granville Island this summer) on which to record my daily plan for which pieces I’ll work on and track my word count goals.
There are two little cork board squares stuck to the back wall of the bookshelf on which I’ve pinned pictures representing pieces I am working on – currently, a postcard from the eastern Turkish city of Mardin and a photo of a rainbow of French macarons. My pens (all Staedler fine point blue....that is, until I run out of my stash - my lifelong love of a pen has been discontinued!) and scissors sit in a chopped off Starbucks-Anniversary-Blend-bag-turned-pencil-holder. Beside that, I’ve got a colourful array of Sharpies and dry-erase markers in a mug bearing the signature of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, our national hero and founder of the Turkish republic. (Inspiration towards greatness, I suppose.) Next to that is a framed card from my dear friend Libby featuring a pair of legs in roller skates and striped knee-socks with the Oscar Wilde quote, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”
I’ve got a stack of notebooks in the corner of my desk – my ideas notebook, the little one I take with me to jot down notes as I travel, and the larger journal in which most rough drafts are born. My laptop – when it’s not on my lap on my bed – also lives on this desk. (And when I’m actually writing, beside it sits some good coffee in my new mug.) The upper bookshelf portion of the desk is filled with writing and photography-related books, my notebooks and journals, past and present, as well as travel paraphernalia I’ve collected from around the globe – a little wooden Kyrgyz yurt, a porcelain soup spoon from China, a cezve (Turkish coffee pot), a tiny Albanian bunker, and various other knick knacks that inspire me as I endeavour to grow as a travel writer.

I am happy to report that, so far, my plan of “carving out time in a specific place” is working nicely.  I really do feel more focused and “in the zone” when I’m at my desk, and having a system for tracking goals and projects is very motivating.  I’d set myself a goal of writing every day, and producing at least 2000 words a week in notes and drafts.  While I didn’t quite hit the “every day” target, my word count goal for January was 9000 words, and I exceeded it by 2,396, which was definitely satisfying.
Here’s to a year of crafting a writing habit that will help me reach my goal of finishing my writing course and being published in a travel magazine in 2013!


I have really enjoyed reading this from my office in Wakefield UK. My colleague also uses a Starbucks off-cut cup for a pen holder. Keep writing Jamie you've lots to give for us to read ;)

Yay, for 11,396 words and the inspiration that hits you every morning!
Güle güle yaz:)

Maybe you can teach me some about discipline? I just realized now when I was writing the other comment, that I took time out of my 'office' hours to read your blog:( (good that it was a shorter post)