I read it somewhere that when people compare artists and their way of creating a work of art they most often use the analogy with the two composers, Mozart and Beethoven and create the two categories. The first are like Mozart, a wunderkind, that was able to write music anywhere, from a ballroom to the back of a carriage and when he wrote it down he had no need to make many changes. We, who lack this inherent ability, are more often than not faced with an empty page that stares at us like an abyss that needs to be filled somehow. We scribble, cross out, rewrite for hours or days until we get it right, as Beethoven did (if we are to believe the gossips), and wait for that one moment of inspiration and creativity that will make the difference. Here are a couple of ways how to turn the fickle muses to your favor.

 

Make sure you are comfortable

 

A silly advice really, but we have to start from something and this seems a good place as any. Most people forget how important the right back support is, especially if prolonged sitting is involved. With an ergonomic chair or a height adjustable desk you will have to worry less about the back pain and more about the job at hand. If you prefer a combination of sitting and standing while you work get yourself a height adjustable table. It gives you a chance to quickly switch from one position to another and gives the possibility for two people to work simultaneously. Also always make sure that you have all the necessary literature and files visible and close to hand. I recommend a shelf either above or right next to the desk. You can find cheap models that you can assemble yourself.

 

An example of a height adjustable desk from Rockdale Office Furnishers:

 

 

Clean out your workspace

 

I am easily distracted, especially when tasked to write something I find boring or I know very little about. In such cases everything and anything on the desk might turn into an opportunity to waste time. I start sharpening pencils although I won’t be using all of them (I usually write everything on a computer), playing with notebooks and suddenly developing a strange attraction to origami. Therefore I keep my room well decorated but my desk only holds the essentials.

 

Lights and decorations

 

A good and even light is important if you are planning to write for a long time. Make sure you position your desk in a way that the natural light coming from the windows doesn’t interfere with the visibility of the screen. Also make sure that you have a desk lamp in addition to your ceiling or standing lights (in case you need a brighter view). Also decorate the walls near your work space with things that give you a kind of motivation. I used to keep a painting based on one of Tolkien‘s books on the wall next to my desk.

 

Strange traditions you get used to

 

Many modern writers (Auster and Barnes) claim that they prefer writing on a typewriter, although the technology is long surpassed. I am not sure whether it is superstition, tradition, habit or they just like the sound of it, but it seems to be working. Although I often preach the quality of modern chairs, I have to be honest and say that I still have the same chair (sturdy old thing) from when I was in school. Call it a sentiment of sorts, but I can’t seem to write anything or show much creativity while sitting somewhere else and I need hours to get things adjusted.

 

Task switching

 

Maintaining concentration and focus throughout a prolonged period of time is a very difficult and tiresome feat. A good way to balance this out is to make a pause from your current task and try doing some task completely different. Counter writing with design or drawing, for example. In this way you will manage to get both tasks done in less time and with less effort. Make sure your “writing space” can be used for different tasks, though and that you have all the equipment nearby.

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