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Monday, December 9, 2013

Location, Location, Location by T. L. Sumner

We often focus much of our attention on the setting of our stories and finding the right words to describe the places in which our characters exist.  But what about our personal writing space?  The location in which we write can play a very important role in our stories. 

I love my office and it’s just about the perfect writing space for me.  But lately, when I sit in my office, fingers on the keyboard ready to work on my WIP, I don’t have one ounce of creative energy.  Some nights I pass by the office with a feeling of dread.  I just don’t want to set foot in there.  Now this feeling is different from not wanting to write.  I want to write.  I just don’t want to write in That Room.  It took me a little while to figure it out why I just couldn’t get motivated.  Then it hit me – I use That Room for my day job.  Which has been extremely stressful and quite frankly no fun as of late.  My creative spirit is blocked in That Room. 
A fresh outlook is like a fresh coat of paint. It doesn't cost much, but sometimes it makes a huge difference. – Susan Gale
When you find your creative energy waning in your usual writing space, try a change of venue.  It could be another room your house.  It could be a nearby coffee shop, a library, a park, or any of a multitude of other places you can camp out for a few minutes or a few hours. 

But a change of venue does more than just help our psyche and creative energy.   Changing location gives our subconscious mind a chance to absorb new stimuli.  It can change our mood and help us find a specific voice for our work; like how writers use setting to change the mood in a story.  For those visual learners out there (and everyone else too), take a look at these photos. 

While these are all photos of libraries, each one evokes a different mood.  Can you visualize yourself in each environment and how what you might see or hear would be different in each location? 

When we venture out and about, we’ll find real life examples of body language, ways of speaking (dialogue cues) and can observe people interacting in real situations.  These details help add authenticity to our characters. 

Public places are also full of unexpected human behavior, if you look or listen closely.  I remember hearing the unmistakable click of nail clippers during a sermon at church.  Not just one snip.  It sounded like a self-manicure.  Ick!!  Now that’s something unexpected (and memorable).  The unexpected can be layered into a story, ultimately providing a richer experience for the reader. 

So get out and about, your stories, characters and readers will love you for it. Peace

Forever optimistic and easily amused, TL Sumner writes young adult romance with athletic heroines chasing their dreams on and off the playing field.  She lives outside of Atlanta with her husband and their two children.  Aside from writing and a day job working in the information technology sector, she enjoys running and being the number one fan for her kids’ sporting events.  Her first novel, Forbidden Secrets won the 2012 Gateway to the Best.  You can find her on Twitter, Facebook and at TLSumner.com.  


Nancy Lee Badger said...

My desk is a mess! I should visit my local library more often. It is not as nice as those pictured, but still a quiet place to work. Thanks for sharing!

TL Sumner said...

@NLB - We have a county-wide library system, so I have four libraries within 15-20 minutes of my house. It's not as cool as having a massive library to hide away in, but they certainly are convenient to get to and most of all - perfect for writing or research. :)

Unknown said...

Well said, T.L. You’re talking neuro-architecture! I’ve heard changing just one aspect of your day can increase the dendrite connections in our brains. A change of setting is certain to stimulate those neurons and get us thinking in other directions. I think it’s time I move my laptop. 