One of my majors in college was psychology. The two main interests for me in the field are learning and creativity. For our purposes here today we will focus on how to actually get things done. We will ignore the part about learning our craft where you should do it a lot and and have excellent instruction; indeed, I have heard a concert pianist once say that anyone can do what he does, you simply need to practice 8 hours per day every day for 20 years while getting regular expert instruction. That is learning your craft. Our concern here is how to make output happen. As writers we are not learning a performer’s art so much as we are focusing on being composers.
Whether we study the writings of Carlos Castaneda, books on occult meditation, the behavior of religious people and their prayer rituals, or even the harder science of psychology, it all comes down to the same basic principle to achieve focus and get things done: The main concept is like real estate value: location, location, location.
In each case above, there is an emphasis on location. Whether one is trying to sleep on a wooden porch and rolling about trying to find that magical place where one can sleep, whether one is always meditating in the same place in order to “polarize” that spot with mystical powers, whether one always prays on a certain rug at a specific location or in that special place in church, whether one only focuses on musical activity while sitting at a piano, whether one only has sex in a certain room on a certain bed, or whether one only writes while sitting at a special desk with a specific tool such as a computer, there is regularity of controlled location.
I’m talking about magical powers here.
Personally I’m doing some things right and some things wrong, but I recognize that and I know what to do about it to make it better. I have written a blog article between 500-1,000 words every day since November 10, 2012. I arbitrarily decided to do it. Every day, usually with no agenda or inspiration or any idea of what is going to come out I just do it. I have the magical powers of location and know how to make it work for me.
Time as location.
Every day when I wake up I make coffee and then sit down to write. Every day. Not always the same time of day but always right after waking up. I am smartest and freshest first thing in the morning once the drowse clears, hence making coffee while coming to the surface. Then I sit down and start typing.
Location as location.
Here I am imperfect. There should be an exclusive chair and table and spot where I write. The room can be used for other purposes but not the specific writing area. Instead I am using a computer on which I do many other things. On this super-powerful machine I do such varied things as surf the web, enjoy media (video, audio, comic books, etc.), compose music, play games, and on and on. The constant is that I open the WordPress window for “Add New Page” and that takes over the potentially noisy environment of my screen. All that is before me is a screen to write on and that is all there is. It is enough to get things done for me so I don’t try to improve on it.
Let’s clarify what would be better.
Ideally I would have a special table with a dedicated method of writing; say, a little table and chair with a laptop that I use exclusively for writing. That table also has space for a coffee cup, my electronic cigarette, and nothing else. Nothing else. I only sit there while I am writing. If I become distracted even for a moment then I must leave that exclusive space immediately. If the phone rings I must have to get up to answer it. If someone walks in and talks to me I must get up. When the distraction clears then I may sit down and only stay there while fingers are clacking on keys or while I am perfectly focused directly on what I am writing.
With that method of only being there while I am being productive and immediately leaving whenever the spell is broken, magical things happen. When I sit there I become a writer. Automatically. It will take time to make that specific location a place of perfect focus and productivity, but over repeated attempts over a number of days, weeks, and months the magic will indeed happen. Guaranteed.
Do this and you will cause things to happen: specific spot, specific tool, specific time, specific activity. Exclusive. Things that today break your focus will stop breaking your focus over time. The “field” that surrounds that space will cause you, will enable you to write. But you must keep it sacred.
Not everyone has writer’s block. Not everyone has to do this intentionally. I suspect most who can write at will and don’t know why are doing these things without knowing it.