“Alligators in the moat” — that’s how my dear friend Linda, who has a wonderful way with words, once described what I needed to get my writing in gear. She meant that I had to insulate myself so I could focus on my work without interruption. Her image has a Renaissance feel to it: I can almost see myself in some high tower, my moat seething below me, writing page after page of magical prose. Ah, the joy of it!
We all need a metaphorical moat — a way to guard our creative time. After all, it’s a noisy world out there, not just physically, but emotionally. When we lack boundaries, it’s hard to nurture a quiet place within where we can be alone with our thoughts and free to see where they take us. Here are a few helpful ideas to foster nourishing creative opportunities:
Make your work space cozy and inviting: and use it only for your writing, not for bill paying or planning dinner or any other daily tasks that have nothing to do with the creative work you want to do. My office is my haven: it’s filled with uplifting quotes and little gifts that inspire me and keep me company as I work.
Make your writing time your time for writing: Period. Hold off on phone calls or doing your laundry while you’re working. Make it a point not to get up from your chair (except for a few quick stretches and computer breaks) until you’ve put in some serious work time. The more you focus, the more focused you’ll be.
Let your work style evolve: come up with a writing approach that makes sense in terms of your goals and natural energy flow. I tend to write my blog posts late at night — it’s working for me, so I’m sticking with it. Resist comparing your work style with your friends’ or even successful authors you read about. Sure, borrow their strategies if they seem useful, but don’t give yourself a hard time if your work mode is different from everyone else’s. If it works, it works!