I guess most authors have a fairly set routine for when they’re actually writing. I’ve certainly seen comments about how to set up to get the best results in terms of working. One of the most common guidelines is: “Have a clear workspace with no distractions”. If that’s essential, then I have to record myself as a total failure.
I have limited mobility so I tend to live most of the time in one location in the house – my sofa! To hand, is my computer and printer, set at my side with the screen angled towards me. The room, our lounge, is of course full of plenty of distractions, the television being the biggest. To avoid feeling entirely cut off from the world, I have the TV on pretty much continuously. A lot of the time, I select favourite programmes, which means endless cycles of repeats, but I’m also a fan of cricket and NFL (American football), and occasionally I have soccer on. So, I sit here with the computer and TV both on. The landline ‘phone is also in the room, along with my mobile ‘phone.
While I’m writing, then, the TV is happily keeping me company. Does it impact on my writing? I guess it does, but only when something new is happening on it, which is much rarer than you’d think. Many writers have music playing while they write, to keep them relaxed as much as anything. I regard having the TV on in much the same way. If the room was in total silence (actually unlikely as we live beside a major road), I would soon become depressed sufficiently for total lethargy to set in! I need to know that the world exists outside, even if I’ve become absorbed by what I’m writing, to a degree that makes me less than responsive to outside influences.
More, my workspace tends to be cluttered! That’s been true since I was 18 years old (several decades ago) and first started working in an office! I surround myself in the things I either need access to (my medications, for example) or which may act as temporary activities between writing sessions, plus any research materials that may prove useful. So, I definitely don’t have a clear, uncluttered, quiet, workspace!
One thing is good. We very rarely have visitors. While I generally don’t write while Jenny (my wife) is at home, regarding that as being rather rude, if I am driven to do so, I know that I can. The arrival of visitors would most definitely block any writing activity. Fortunately, I’ve never been overly sociable, loving the comfort of my own home and not needing more than my family, so I don’t actually feel as if I’m deprived by the lack of visitors.
To add to the scene, I will smoke my cigarettes while I write, consumption varying wildly according to the degree of concentration. If I’m able, I’ll also have a drink handy at times, usually a mug of tea or coffee. I don’t imbibe alcohol, partly because of the medications and partly because I have very little desire to do so. In the past, I enjoyed drinking wine, sherry and port, with a few odd drinks besides, but I can’t recall ever having drunk anything alcoholic while writing.
Of all these things, my medications have the biggest impact on my writing, other than periods when my health is particularly bad, by dulling my mind and making me sleepy. I may not have my workspace clear and carefully organised, but it works for me. I guess what I’m trying to convey is that aspiring writers should take all advice into consideration and then use or discard it as best fits them! They should, above all else, feel comfortable.