#6 - The Right Place and The Right Tools - Jan. 15, 2017
One truth about writing that I discovered early on in my “creating” career, is that if you don’t have a great place to write and the proper equipment and software tools to write with in that place, it will affect your productivity and your output. If you have a great place to write and the proper equipment and software tools to write with, you are setting yourself up for success.
So what do I mean by the “right” place to write?
Do you have a place where you won’t be interrupted when you write? A chair that is comfortable to sit in. Or a standing desk? A place that can be your “creative cave?” A place where you can get lost in what you are doing? A place where the phone doesn’t ring, and text messages won’t ding? A place that is safe, your writing sanctuary?
Now a “writing sanctuary” doesn’t have to be an office, or a desk in your apartment. It can be your phone at Starbucks, if that works for you. But it needs to be a place where you can go where you are more or less distraction free, and where you have a tool or tools which you enjoy writing with.
I have an office in our apartment. I have an iMac and a nice comfy chair, and, like right now it is working. I can churn and create content. But sometimes my significant other is exceptionally talky in the other room, or my amazing dog, Roma, insists that I play ball with her, or the phone keeps ringing, and then my sanctuary disappears. So late at night, or early in the morning is my best time in this sanctuary.
My other sanctuary is in the office at our new theatre on 45th St. during the day, when no one is around. I have an old Mac Mini there and a Mac monitor from 2003, but man, I love it there! It is quiet, so quiet and with a good cup of Java, I create amazing work there. I have no distractions and the space is comfortable, clean and organized.
My last sanctuary are my “phone” places. I have a couple of “phone places” where I write. One is on the Spin bike in the gym. At the Gym I go to, in addition to their Spin Room, they have one spin bike out on the floor, and I go there to do my cardio, and many times, I write as I spin. Yes, I am not working all that hard, but there is something about “moving” while I am writing that puts me in a creative ZONE. I have written many a short play on that spin bike, and many blogposts too. It is absolutely great.
My second “phone” place is my 2010 Honda Fit. I do Yoga and I train individuals up in Westchester, a suburb of Manhattan, and I drive up there 4 days a week very early in the morning in my Honda Fit - some days I leave at 4:30 am. (I have been a Yogi/Trainer for over 30 years. Yes, over 30 years! Wild, huh? I keep wanting to retire for I often work late at Manhattan Rep, but I love these people I work with so much I just can’t do it.) Some mornings, I may have a half hour or an hour between clients. So I park somewhere, pull out my phone and often write. The car is so so quiet. It has amazing seats that fold back so you can literally lie down if you want, so it is so comfortable too. And no one bothers me. I have done some of my best work in the creative WOMB of my Honda Fit.
So where are your “Writing Sanctuaries?”
But a writing sanctuary is only as good as the tools you use. If you have tools which get in the way of your writing, you won’t get much work done.
Here are some of the software tools I work with.
What I like:
For long form writing (Full-Length plays, on-going blogs, and big writing projects.)
Scrivener on the Mac:
This is a great writing tool especially for the creation process. I use it all the time for it organizes my writing in a really unique and easy way. On the left, you have all the entries in your blog or scenes in your play or chapters in your novel. Each is its own separate file. You can label your scenes which then can turn into cork board posts so you can rearrange scenes and more. It compiles your manuscript really well and exports to Final Draft, Word, pdf and a myriad of other formats. It has a slight learning curve but once you learn Scrivener, you will use it all the time. It is such a great tool. You can download a free 30 time trial(you use it 30 times, not 30 days) at https://www.literatureandlatte.com. (Also there is a relatively new IOS version that is a bit kludgy but I can be useful on the iPad. The iPhone version is a bit too confusing, especially if you are working on a long, very layered work.)
For shorter form writing (short plays, essays, blog posts.)
Ulysses on IOS (IPHONE, IPAD):
Ulysses is my choice for short form writing on IOS. (I sometimes use the Mac version of Ulysses but I find the layout and the font size is annoying so I usually use Scrivener or a basic text file when writing short form on my mac.) Ulysses on the phone is great because it is easy to use. The syncing to iPad, iPhone and Mac works beautifully and the text editing features and keyboard on the iPhone work great. It has some interesting ways to organize your writing and it has a great interface. Most of my short plays that I have created recently have been written on my phone using Ulysses (often on that spin bike at the Gym.) For a great Iphone/Ipad writing tool, I recommend this app.
To get writing ideas and to begin a work.
A Pad and a Pen (or Pencil.)
Just for a change, break out paper and pen. Draw, scribble, write long hand and let your ideas fly! The next day, transcribe what you can to your computer, and see what happens. I have gotten my best ideas with paper and pen, and then improved on them by putting them into the computer! I find there is something magical about putting these two methods together. Handwriting and then computer imput. Try it. I think it is a really useful strategy for creating something new.
So find your “Writing Sanctuary” and use your BEST writing tools, and watch your creativity and productivity soar!