I have lived in many homes and had a variety of writing places. I have found that those which seemed least pleasant often led to me being more creative and productive. I wrote my first collection of short stories crammed into a tiny dark place beneath stairs, my first novel hunched over a table in a dark corner of a room. When I set up my study to perfection I found myself perversely seeking out other places to write. Perhaps I know sub-consciously that that my work sometimes suffered in too perfect a setting.
I studied Neuro-Linguistic Processing, NLP, under Robert Dilts in California and he has a theory which perhaps explains this. He suggests that the best way to be creative is to use what he has termed The Disney Strategy.
There are three stages to the Disney Strategy. 1. Dreaming up ideas. 2. Turning the dream into reality. 3. Sternly evaluating and criticising what you have produced. You then go through the cycle again until you are happy with what you’ve produced.
Sounds familiar? Writers might call it Planning, Writing and Editing.
Dilts further suggests that different settings are best for each stage in the process.
- Dreaming up ideas. An open, playful space is best. Look up and allow yourself time and space to dream with a child-like sense of the possible.
- Turning the dream into reality. A well equipped space where you can really focus on the work with the best of equipment and without distraction. Lean forward to the task and get on with it.
- Evaluating and criticising. As uncomfortable space as you can find. Make yourself miserable and you’ll be more likely to discover your mistakes.
So here’s my current writing space. Or rather spaces.
I get my best ideas when I’m outside, on the terrace which overlooks the town and sea or, better still, in a café with the buzz of the world swirling past but leaving me undisturbed. My favourite place currently is the Cocoon Café where the owner and his waitress are welcoming and friendly.
As people walk past I scan their faces, conjuring up minor characters from their appearance and the things which appear to be concerning them. I also dream my best dreams when I’m lying down, in bed or in a reclining chair on the terrace. I look up at the skies and nothing can stop the ideas from flowing across me.
I turn my ideas into reality by working in the apartment. I use a good PC and have started to use some excellent writing software called Scrivener. I also have access to the finest research tool any writer could need, the world wide web. More than that, I have a circle of friends and colleagues from across the world, courtesy of this blog, Twitter and other social media.
The view looks over the town of Menton and Mediterranean Sea but I rarely find I am distracted by this. But to make sure I’m not I turn myself to the blank wall. The only thing I can see is a poster of a horseman from Siena on a mission from one town to another.
I evaluate and criticise by reading my work late at night. I would do it somewhere uncomfortable if I could but we live in a two room apartment and space is limited. Late at night when I’m tired and grumpy is about as good, or should I say bad, as I can find.
So there we have it. My work space. Or rather my working spaces.
I’m starting a series of author’s Work Spaces on this blog in a couple of weeks. I hope you enjoy reading about other author’s workspaces. I’m looking forward to it.