I'm a firm believer in setting the stage for success. I teach junior and senior ELA at a nearby high school, and I work hard to make sure my students do not enter a cold, sterile classroom to learn. The room is bathed in warm reds, yellows and browns, sunlight pours into our reading corner anchored by two cozy chairs that belonged to the grandmother of my co-teacher, and soft lighting illuminates the room. My co-teacher and I used a blend of textures (and the illusion of some) to add depth and warmth to the space as well. Patterned fabrics, burlap, and woodgrains enhance the casual feel. Sure, there are thirty-five student desks in the room, but the space is inviting & comfortable. Many students share that they love being in my classroom because of the environment. This is especially true for my Young Authors Club. Our young writers need a writing environment that gives a sense of comfort and security, one where they can sink into their laptops and notebooks and dive into whatever story is begging to break free on the page.
It comes with no surprise that I function this way as well. Do all writers seek these things when writing? Did I self-impose what I love in a writing environment to the young writers I sponsor? Does it matter? I suppose it might if I had objections, but the goal is to encourage them to seek out places and carve out chunks of time to experience the joy of writing.
But herein lies the challenge... it isn't just the environment that gets a writer going. It isn't the magical cup of caffeine that sits by my side, or the smooth wood of a writing desk, or the straight back of well-worn wooden chair. It isn't the quiet of the morning or the beats of a playlist streaming through headphones. It turns out, it's the focus of the writer. All of these other external tools can help, but they are just tools. If the writer isn't driven in their own mind, if they don't project goals, and take steps to meet them, then the task doesn't get done; and a pit of self-doubt swallows up whatever minuscule amount of motivation one started the day with.
I had the recent pleasure of spending a weekend at a writing conference with my writing bestie, and many good writing friends. I took steps this year to be involved with the planning of the conference, hoping it would add to my "writing tool box", and it surely did. But at the same time I was surrounded by so many writers who have experienced success, publication, and awards, and I found it hard not to slip into that "imposter syndrome" writers are all plagued with. Is my writing good enough? I've edited more times than I can count; am I taking just another trip around the globe, or will these edits finally be the ones to catch the eye of an agent? The truth is, I will never know unless I query, unless I put the writing out there over and over. That sucks. It's a process in which a writer must remain hopeful, but also know that rejection is part of the deal. Not everyone gets noticed the first time they query, in fact--it's highly unlikely. But my skin grows thicker with each attempt. I have to remember that I still love my story, and I have to believe someone else out there will love it too. I'm not ready to move on to new writing projects yet, but when I am, I hope I can say I tried hard with my first whether it's published or not.
Go forth and write,