Some authors have their own set way of “getting in the mood” when working on their craft. Some people need absolute silence while others blare heavy metal. Some writers are comfortable sitting in a coffee shop while others lock themselves in a basement closet whose only source of light is the computer screen. Some scribes mandate their desk set a certain way (pencil here, phone here, large receptacle of legalized speed here, and so on).
Regardless of the state of one’s workstation, another requirement for some writers is a warm up session before diving into whatever work in progress that’s currently on the agenda. John Steinbeck used to write letters to friends before he began his work, at least he did for “East of Eden” hence the “Journal of a Novel.” Lawrence Block has said to write stream of conscious, similar to Kerouac’s notorious writing habits, in order to get his creative juices flowing. Block, however, says he rarely uses what he writes and, if I remember correctly, treats the exercise as a means of getting out the bad before continuing on with his work.
Personally, I am not a fan of writing something else before devoting time to a current work in progress. I find it takes away from my creative process (God that sounds pretentious). In short it doesn’t work for me. I’m the sort who reads a little of the previous submission to make sure where I left off and get a feel for the tone where I left off while I attempt not to edit. Next, I realize it’s been anywhere from half an hour to an hour and I stop myself from editing any further so I can move the story along and write new content. I know I’m not supposed to edit. I have to remind myself this almost every time, but see my previous post and maybe you will understand.
I am also not confined to writing in one place. I don’t have a certain spot in the house I must sit at a certain degree temperature with my keyboard placed just so in order to get stuff done. I do not prefer a busy environment like a coffee house or bookstore. Instead of writing I end up watching people while my writer brain starts thinking about their backstory instead of focusing on my work. People watching can be helpful in discovering quirks of others that can be given to your own characters. Even if your writing spot is in a dungeon it’s good to get out from time to time and mingle with the mortals. But, I do know I like to be in an environment where there isn’t much to distract me. I normally write at the house with the occasional disruption from kids. I can tune out some noises in the background and normally don’t listen to music while I write. If I do listen to music then I stay away from anything with lyrics since I find them distracting. So, if I listen to music it’s normally classical, preferably Rachmaninoff. Why Rachmaninoff? I don’t know. I prefer sitting in a chair than lying in a bed, and, even though I have done it, I prefer to have my computer on a table, not my lap, while I write. In a perfect world I would have a dedicated writing space like Chuck Wendig, for now I’m good with the wherever. One day, maybe.
But, that’s just me. What does your writing space look like?