Creativity is funny, in that it gets influenced by everything. We writers and artists of all types get ideas and draw new connections between things we take in all the time. But right now, I’m talking about the actual creative environment, what it’s like around you when you’re drawing, painting, writing, or whatever you do.
Some writers prefer to work in complete silence. Some can work just fine in a busy café, which is why so many of us do that. (And you thought it was just to look pretentious… no, there’s something stimulating about that atmosphere, beyond just the coffee.) Some can listen to music which becomes their own personal soundtrack for a creative project.
Honestly, speaking strictly about my writing, all of those work for me at different times. The trick is shifting your mind into a different space where writing becomes easy. It’s about moving out of our usual thinking mode into a higher, focused thinking that allows the writing to flow. Some techniques that have worked well for me include writing in vi, the Unix “visual editor” text program that allows you to easily jump from one section of a file to another, move around chunks of text, and generally feel like you have wizard-level powers over whatever you’re typing. Writing in different fonts can shift the mind, too. I sometimes like writing using the Royal Pain font, which looks like you’re using a faulty typewriter.
What I like most about Royal Pain is that its typography screams “first draft!” It’s a visual reminder as you work that what you’re typing doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it can be rough and crappy, because there will always be time to revise and turn it into Times New Roman later.
What got me thinking about all this was finding a link to Qwerky Toys yesterday. (I would have called the company Qwerty Toys, but that’s just me.) I learned to type on both mechanical and electronic typewriters, right around when the early home computer, the Coleco Adam, came out. That was in 1983. Yes, I’m dating myself, and I don’t care. Don’t you want your writers to have some life experience?
Starting on those old typewriters, I got used to the distinct click of keys. The look and feel of working on a typewriter is different. Writing on one seems to give weight to every letter. Honestly, I think it would be fun to use one again, even with the pain (the royal pain?) of getting to the end of a line, hearing the “ding,” then sending the carriage to the beginning of the next.
The Querky Keyboard simulates the look and feel of a mechanical keyboard (I assume the feel, anyway, as I haven’t actually used this keyboard). If you’ve got the money and the retro sensibilities, you might want to check it out. You can use it with PC, Mac, and Android devices. I thought it was for USB, but it looks like it uses Bluetooth.
The thing is, it’s really expensive. I usually get my keyboards for between $10 and $15. This baby will lower your bank account by $309. If it came down in price by quite a bit, I’d likely get one. Honestly, I was hoping for different colors, and maybe one with a wooden exterior, something with a killer steampunk look.
Typing sounds though! Those clicks and dings are still fun. They can get your mind into a new space and shake up your writing. I tried a couple of programs that will play typewriter sounds while you’re writing on your computer. The one that worked for me, and that I quite like, is Qwertick. I’m using it now, and it is pretty nice. I won’t use it all the time, but I think that the next time I work on Bodacious Creed, I’ll give it a try.
I hope this blog entry gave you some ideas on getting your mind into a different, perhaps more productive, space for your writing. Go have fun with these suggestions!
“Actual conversation is still okay… to a writer who types all day, texting is like never leaving work.”