MAKE YOUR LIFE CONDUCIVE TO WRITING
Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” For him, this meant writing the truest thing you know as simply as possible. Hemingway truly revolutionized the way we think of prose. His style is so minimal that every word deals a blow, making the writing that much more meaningful.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? 99% of writing is just doing it—whether it’s smooth sailing or coming up with almost nothing. All of us can attest to the fact that writer’s block is very real! Sometimes just the act of writing (or typing) anything is enough to conjure inspiration: it lies in the repetition and muscle memory.
Arrange Your Surroundings
Did you know that Hemingway wrote while standing at his typewriter? Many people work best standing up straight rather than sitting all day at a desk. Think about how much better this is for your posture! And, for someone like Hemingway writing early on during the first half of the Twentieth Century, the physicality of banging on a cumbersome, clunky, heavy typewriter was, by today’s thinking, almost inconceivable. Today people take their Mac Air to a coffee shop, and it’s light enough to tote under their arm, almost unnoticed. The common denominator now—regardless of new technology that’s made word processing easier—is creativity and hard work. It’s the writing: no matter how you get it done, just do it. This is the most important thing. If you have talent, something interesting to say (and a fresh way in which to say it), and work hard, it really doesn’t matter what sort of pen and paper or computer you use.
It does matter, however, if you have good light, etc. Do you work in the morning when light is streaming through the windows? Natural light is, obviously, better for us: it lifts our mood and improves our Vitamin D levels. If your creative juices flow better at night, be glad you don’t have only candlelight at your disposal! Writing all those years by candlelight must have been what destroyed John Milton’s eyes! His daughter wrote for him as he dictated after he lost his sight. And can you imagine writing with a quill pen and a pot of ink?
Get a good lamp! Let’s face it: staring at a screen for hours is no good. It puts lots of strain on your eyes, but since that’s the world we live in—where screens are ubiquitous—best to get used to it. Take breaks from screen-viewing. If you’ve been writing for hours and your eyes feel fatigued, take a half hour to look simply at nothing. Go outside for a breath of air and a short walk to clear your head, look out at your surroundings where you don’t have to really focus on any minute details, and avoid scrolling on your phone.
Everyone is different…
Some writers like a lot of inspirational décor while others find it distracting. For instance, Bret Easton Ellis (who, luckily for us, just published his first novel in 13 years) has been quoted as saying that he needs completely blank white walls so that he can think. Paintings and photographs are just too distracting!
A lot of writers find that facing the wall to write is helpful. Charles Dickens’ writing habits included a desk facing a window so he could look out, a vase of fresh flowers, books, and complete silence. An extra door was added in one of his offices so he was ensured peace and quiet. That’s the thing about writing: it’s a solitary profession.
Do you prefer to write long hand? Find pens that you like and get lots of them. The same goes for paper. No writer can ever have too many notebooks or reams of parchment. Make sure to always have a pen and piece of paper handy, especially on walks and wherever you get ideas. If you’re into apps, try the Writing app on your phone.
In his book “On Writing,” Henry Miller gave lots of good advice that is extremely helpful such as “Work on one thing at a time until finished” and “Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.”
For more tips from Miller, consult the link below:
For more information on other topics mentioned in the blog along with tips on writing and what you should be reading, check out the following:
(Writers pictured above at their desks include Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King.)
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