Today’s post is an excerpt from Cate Russell-Cole’s book (which she offered as her guest post): “Phoenix Rising: Conquering the Stresses of the Writer’s Life” which is available from Amazon Kindle worldwide.
Take it away Cate!
I love design and the impact it has on people’s psyche. A few years ago, I took a basic interior design course just for the fun of it. I learnt that without pleasing colors and visual balance, rooms run the risk of becoming abandoned dust bunny habitats. So what’s that got to do with writing? Essentially, every writer needs a writing space that isn’t a deterrent to working, or your writing life can become a dust bunny habitat too! If you put the time into organizing an energizing writing area, your writing output will most likely increase. My own experience stands as a sad testimony to this.
For a long time I used my environment as an excuse not to write. I wasn’t comfortable. My desk lives in a corner of a room that is dark, noisy and cramped. I was always putting off writing as I just couldn’t think there. I’d do anything to avoid the area and not write. But I needed that space. My books, records and equipment were all there. I had to find an answer that would prompt me to create.
When I teach creativity, one of the exercises we do is: picture yourself in an empty white room. Now, if you were to create your ideal writing space, what would you fill it with? What color would you paint it? What do you need in there you can’t work happily without? Answers generally vary between a simple, uncluttered desk; to paradises with garden vistas, fireplaces and antique writing desks. Oh, if only! I then go home from my inspirational class, to my five feet square desk and cupboard. So realistically, for me at least, what was the point of that exercise?
Even if I can’t create paradise, identifying what I want makes me think. If I want a garden view, I can add a few plants and a floral picture or calendar. I know I need my books around me, as my ideal room had floor to ceiling bookcases. A log fire is a no go, but I can make sure I have appropriate lighting, a fan for summer and a heater for winter. I don’t need to renovate, I just need to tune into what I need.
The other essential element is color. For anyone creative, you know the power this has to make you feel great, or feel blah. We once stayed in an ultra modern hotel that was all black, brown and grey surfaces. I have never felt so cold anywhere. The stone and concrete depressed me. I feel the same way about writing on a piece of white paper with a blue or black pen. It is cold. It doesn’t inspire me.
Colors have been scientifically found to affect your blood pressure and neurological functions. If they affect your body so profoundly, no wonder they greatly impact your mood! Blue is supposed to be the best color for creative people to be surrounded by. Red encourages risk-taking behavior; green soothes and so on. Statistically, people have more fights in yellow rooms. However, if you are writing a crime novel, maybe yellow would be a productive color to surround yourself with? It could put you in the right frame of mind! It’s up to you to discover what works for you as an individual. If you see yellow as positive, sunny and cheerful, which is the atmosphere you want, it may be your perfect choice rather than blue. If you can’t paint the room your desired color, buy a yellow print, have yellow flowers in a vase, get yellow stationary items. Any way you can introduce it, bring it in to heighten your mood and your enjoyment of your work area.
If you really want to write, you will find a way. If you’re blocked or not so confident as a writer, you can find any excuse not to be productive. It comes down to your dedication to your goals. But, as with every area of life, if you take the time to care for your needs and improve what you have, it will pay off for you.
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