The environment I like to write in in 2020.
TL; DR : Music with a beat, a timer, plain text editor, notebook, closed door, and a desk in the fucking corner of the room.
It is nice to have light, but I have tried it, and face that desk in a fucking corner...There is too much going on out there. Squirrels, rabbits, cardinals, once I saw a turkey in the lot behind the house, so I ran upstairs and got my turkey call...In short, put the desk in a fucking corner.
Who I am
I am a writer. If you want to write, well, here is what works for me.
Hey man, if you're writing, I think environment is key.
I mean you can write pretty much anywhere, and there are stories we have of people writing in all kinds of environments (crowded trains, late at night waiting for their children to return home from curfew, in 1 hr bursts once a week), but those systems worked for those people.
For me, my goal this year is to establish a consistent writing schedule.
And a consistent publishing schedule.
I have a widely read and profitable blog that I like writing in and gives me enough time to live my own life.
Consistency is the first thing for me. If you can put regular time on something, you can accomplish anything. I think even effort, skill, and right practice are important as well, but regular time is the limiting reagent for me.
You need other things for sure.
Correct practice, and effort, etc. But like, I have all that kind of built-in if that makes sense. You have to figure out what is necessary for the job, and then what you need to do to get it done.
When I was looking at medical school, it took me a long time to realize that I did not like studying biology and that, for me, I needed to like what I was studying.
Now, had I figured out that well more that they way of teaching biology was at odds with how I wanted to learn.
And that there were other ways of learning biology.
That would have worked for me, maybe. Like going and studying on his own for months out of the year and coming back just to take exams, and working in other countries.
But, I also did not have that kind of self-conviction. Well, or maybe I just had too much pressure the other way. Or maybe I cared more about having friends in college, I was not unhappy enough for that.
And that is fine.
There is nothing saying that he was happy doing that. It is lauded as an interesting and radical thing to do. But was he happy? Or was he working out his true self?
I mean I spent a year in the Philippines in medical school and it was not really a fun time, but I had moments of happiness, and I am glad I did it.
Because I needed to do something.
Everything becomes part of your story, eventually.
What I do know is that if I can write one article, just one, in the morning, my mind feels clear and I can breathe.
Music playing - something without lyrics or in a foreign language. I like Jay Z or Kanye instrumentals or Daddy Yankee and Juanes. It has got to be something upbeat, and it has got to be something with a rhythmic beat.
Chair - I like plain chairs. Like non-adjustable just normal chairs.
Standing desk - maybe this is why I like normal chairs. I often switch between standing and sitting. I love my desk. It is a workbench. It was $200.
Plant - ideally, it is nice to have a plant
Screen - get that shit adjusted to the right height. The top of the screen should be about at eye level. An adjustable height arm works great for this. There are many sales on them. Just look for something that works with VESA mounts because those are the most common screen mounts.
Windows - it is nice to have light, but I have tried it, and face that desk in a fucking corner. When I had a desk positioned at the window, it looked damn beautiful. I'm sure I looked great, but all I did was stare out the damn window. There is too much going on out there. Squirrels, rabbits, cardinals, once I saw a turkey in the lot behind the house, so I ran upstairs and got my turkey call. I called lightly of and on and 20 minutes later, the turkey comes walking into the yard, and I lost an hour of writing. In short, put the desk in a fucking corner.
You need to feel safe when writing because what you are about to do can potentially be cancerous. It is uplifting, it can yield so much insight, but it is like it is voiding the warranty. Sometimes you need to do it to get performance, but sometimes you go too far. And really, that is a lie, because you do not need to do anything to get performance. You get performance by being happy. That is hoenst. The most high-output people I have seen are happy. It seems weird and impossible and it is work and it is true. You can outwork someone on grit and caffiene and anger for a few weeks, maybe even a few years, but you end up destroying your life. And it is not worth it. Because you are actually just being lazy. You are ignoring the real work that needs to get done. If you doubt me, try it yourself. See how depressed you are after you get yourself to run 3 miles every morning before doing anything. every morning. every day. start there. it might not be perfect, but you have no excuse about not having gear or a gym. start with 30 minutes of 70% exertion if you can't run a mile in under 10 minutes. you need to sweat, and it needs to be hard, and you realize you can't just sprint and destroy yourself at the beginning because you'll think you have been running forever and it will have been six minutes. you learn to manage your energy. after you have done that for a minimum of 6 months, then tell me that you did not need that. tell me that your work has not improved. and your mood. and your health. and your life. build a better life, don't waste your energy trying to burn yourself out, when what you need is more body or spirit. then again, sometimes, you have not been doing any work and you need to work hard to get something done.
Keyboard and mouse - like to write on a keyboard. I started using wireless and they are nice when they work. They can move. I like wired because they always work. It does not make much of a difference, but wireless is nicer aesthetically.
Notebook - I have my big planning notebook next to me and it always has a pen in it. I can write to do stuff if it comes into my head. That way it is out of my head and I can go back to writing.
Typing environment - text editor. everything should be done in text editor. occassionally, i will write in the blogging program so i can see formatting, but it ultimately distracting. it is better to edit for formatting after. a plain text editor. did I say text editor? microsoft word and other programs are a waste of time and space and attention when it comes to writing like i do. you can use markdown if you want to put in formatting. way faster. bold - done. I learned this from eric kim.
Closed door - you have to close your door because you have to feel safe again. and it helps get your brain into that mode of working. if you cannot close your door, then put on over ear headphones. those are the unstated equivalent. it is uninterruption. then again, you need to be social and go outside and eat and drink water and have a life.
I almost forgot - the timer. I put at 25 minute timer on. I follow it more than I don't, but it absolutely saves me when it goes off. Because often, I will be in some daze or trance and going down a rabbit hole, and the quiet ring from the timer brings me back. Pomodoro timer is the one I use. It has a 5 minute break built in after every 25 minute session. Then I think a 10 minute break every 50 minutes. I usually need at least 15, if not 30.