GENREALITY


January 22nd, 2009 by Sasha White
Being a professional

I Feng Shui’d my home office yesterday – again. By again, I mean I did it less than a year ago too.

Why did I do this? Because I’m trying to find ways to streamline my focus and increase my creativity, and I believe in the energy we draw from the things, and people, around us.

Streamlining my focus is important because it’s all too easy to get distracted when I should be writing. And finding ways around these distractions is part of working from home, and being your own taskmaster. Increasing my creativity is important because, well…because I don’t think of myself as a particularly creative person. That’s another story though…today, I want to share some things I learned about creating my space.

Old DeskWhen I first set up my second bedroom as an office, I had my desk so I could look out the window. This worked for me, and for my cat, who was distracted enough by what was outside the window to not chase my typing fingers all the time.

I wasn’t distracted by what was outside because I was super focussed and determined…something that I’ve learned can change over time – but again, that’s a different story.

Two years later I quit my job to write full-time. It was a drastic change, that at first, was great. I was super productive for a while…then slowly other things started to creep in. After a while I was distracted by emails, instant messages, the doorbell, dirty dishes. I’ve always been a believer in the energy that we draw from each other, as well as the things that surround us, so when a friend suggested Feng Shui, I tried it.

I cheated though, I looked it up on the internet, and followed some tip sheets without really reading them. Sort of like This One , or This One.

Scarlet Desk3By not really reading it, I just followed the outlined parts. I positioned my desk so I was facing the door, I put a Red Candle on the corner of my desk that would encourage money to come to me, I put a plant on another area, …and on and on. And it felt good for a while.

Until my cat killed the plant by chewing on the leaves and I worried her tail would catch fire if I lit the candle.

Even though, that set up still worked pretty good for almost a year. However, I felt the need for a change yesterday -and no, it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I wasn’t ready to start my new story – so I googled ‘Home Office Feng Shui’ again, and got to work. And this time I actually read everything, not just the highlighted tips. *blush*

The key thing I missed before. You’re creative space has to work for YOU. My desk no longer faces the door, but my back isn’t to the door either. Instead, my desk is up against a wall. A wall that is a light grey (little did I know when I painted it in the summer that the color encouraged clarity and preciseness). Being against the wall works good for me, because then the only thing in front of me is my computer..this helps ME stay focussed.

Just out of my eye line are a couple of pieces of art, one of them a very brightly colored painting I brought home form Nepal a long time ago. I put my bulletin board on a smaller wall, with posters and promo items from my books on it, to create not only color and energy, but to remind me of my successes. And behind me, against the other wall, is a small bookshelf with a little rock garden and some candles on top of it. Pens, notebooks and other things that help me work are on the shelves, in brightly colored containers form the dollar store. Easy, cheap, bright, and yet, not distracting.

Desk3 BBoard

The room feels good, and even though that took me the better part of the day, I still managed to get a lot of actual work done. So I’m feeling the energy flow. *grin*

Now, after all that, if you don’t have an office, or a dedicated working space, don’t sweat it. When push comes to shove, and a deadline is looming, I usually just grab my Neo and sit where ever I can. You don’t have to have an office to be a professional writer. I went back to work several months ago because I was going a bit stir crazy turning into the crazy writer hermit, and I think that , more than anything, has added juice to my creativity. I work as a bartender/waitress, and a lot of my notes and best lines are written on napkins and shoved in my pocket in the middle of my shift.

The point is, you have to do what works for you. If you don’t believe in energy you can’t see, then Feng Shui won’t help you. If you can’t stand staring at a blank wall, then a desk against a wall won’t help you. One of the most important things a writer needs to learn in order to become a professional, is what works for them…for me, the blank wall works…as does serving food and drinks to people a couple of nights a week.

Being a professional is more about doing what you need to to get the job -no matter what the job is- done, than where you do it. For me, it means changing my office around fairly often, trying new things, and keeping an outside job to stay sane and focussed when I do sit down to write. What helps you stay focussed when you have a particular task to approach?

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33 comments to “Being a professional”

  1. Darlene Ryan
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 9:38 am · Link

    Sasha, your timing is great. I’ve just finished clearing almost everything out of my office that isn’t mine. (Does anyone want to buy a futon?) The room feels like it’s my space and only my space and the energy is different. Maybe I’ll Google Home Office Feng Shui myself. (Yes, I’ll actually read things first.)



  2. Jess
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 10:09 am · Link

    I totally need to clean my desk off. That helps.

    Except that now that I work full-time I’m never at my desk when I write, I’m in my cubicle. I have very little control over this – I’m sure my boss would love me putting up a cork board with my plot note cards, no? – so I’ve gotten fairly used to just writing where I can. For me it’s more about the timing than the space. I carve out the time by doing my work efficiently and quickly and then I have large swaths of time to write… (it helps the office isn’t very busy lately, too), and that way I don’t have anything to distract me because I got it all done.



  3. Alison Kent
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 11:18 am · Link

    I write best when sitting outside beneath blue skies and bright sunshine, whether it’s using my Dana or pen and paper. I love to write at the park and watch the ducks swim. It’s so tranquil, and there’s no external writing noise, i.e., the call of the Internet, email, etc. (Though I will say that adding a data plan to my Blackberry was probably not a smart thing to do!) If I can’t get to the park, I write in my backyard, which I love doing, though it has more distractions. Cars, dogs, cats, neighbors. To kill that, I’ll listen to Brain Sync recordings.



  4. Scarlet Y Wharton
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 11:26 am · Link

    Hey Sahsa! Got your email and decided to come over and check this out before class. I am very proud of you, you have found your niche…I’m still working on mine, and on me but things are coming together nicely. As soon as I get past this little encounter with chemistry in two classes they’ll be a whole heck of a lot better! I like your office and if it helps you write..well..hell, I’m definately all for that! Take care and be good….LOL



  5. Marissa
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 12:18 pm · Link

    I’m a big fan of the whole writing on the couch thing. I load up with coffee, blanket, pillow, and the dog, and camp out on the sofa to write.



  6. Laurie K
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 1:59 pm · Link

    Hey Sasha –
    I tried to feng shui my house, both offices at home and work, but now it’s a mess again and like you need to redo it all. Typically I write outside on the pool deck, just to get out, since I’m in an office all day. When it’s too cold to go out, I find I have a hard time concentrating on getting anything done. I’m a huge believer in energy, red tape is my friend. Glad this is working for you.



  7. Charlene Teglia
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 2:19 pm · Link

    My favorite focusing trick: get a timer and do a “brain dump” before I start writing. No phone/internet, no interruptions. Write out whatever is cluttering up my brain. I usually spend 10-15 minutes doing this, nonstop. The nonstop writing is a good warmup and gets me into the flow of not overthinking. Then I do another 10-15 minutes nonstop with the current project open. If a book is very hard going, doing 10-15 minute segments makes it feel doable. And you can reward yourself for making it through. “15 minutes and I can go look at Lolcats.” The timer can keep me focused on the work when nothing else will.



  8. Sasha White
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 2:32 pm · Link

    Darlene, it was fun, and farily easy. This time I mostly focussed on bringing more into the room, as in bright color around me. Simple things like draping a colorful sarong over my chair. LOL

    Clearing out is a Huge part of it though. They say clutter sucks the energy out you. ANd the good thing is, that by clutter they mean things that are hanging around that you haven;t used in a long time. SO it’s not necessarily the clutter on your desk sort of thing. (Cuz my desk always has things on it like sticky notes, pens, notebooks) but they are things I use..so they’re not clutter. Make sense?



  9. Sasha White
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 2:40 pm · Link

    Jess, it sounds like you’ve got something going that works for you. Since you can’t put up a corkboard, what about a plant, and some color (Maybe with candles or something as simple as a cup full of colorful highlighters?)

    My corkboard isn’t for plotting, (I don’t really do that) but it has some photos form fun times on it, a motivational saying mini-poster, and a couple of flyers form my books. Not only are these things colorful, but they make me happy and proud when I look at them. That brings in good energy.

    Something like that might be worth a try. Then again if what you have is working, don’t mess with it. LOL



  10. Sasha White
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 2:43 pm · Link

    Alison, someone else mentioned those types of recordings to me once. They don’t work for me, though. Neither does working outside, but I live right on a main street, and across from a hugh school. LOL I wish I could though, because I’ve read your posts about it before and it sounds fantastic. For now, me, I tend to be pretty scattered at times, so sort of cocooning myself works best.



  11. Sasha White
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 2:45 pm · Link

    Hey Scarlet! Glad to hear classes are mostly going well. I know you work very hard. BTW, chemistry wasn’t my thing either. LOL



  12. Sasha White
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 2:46 pm · Link

    Marissa, that sounds great!

    There are definitely times when I move to the sofa, but I tend to snooze when I get in that position, unless I’m in a deadline panic. LOL



  13. Sasha White
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 2:50 pm · Link

    Laurie, when you can’t get out to get things done, maybe surround yourself with outside elements. Like a few plants, and maybe a small rock garden thing or water fountain. (You know how Bamboo stalks are in vases with rocks, and water? that sort of thing) Bringing those natural outside elements inside with you might help you feel that energy, when it’s too cold to be outside.



  14. Sasha White
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 2:52 pm · Link

    Ohhh, Charlene. I love that trick!
    I have an egg timer and do that sometimes. PLus I have another write friend who likes to do timed writing and we sort of race each other. That can help when I need to get a lot done fast. Great tip!!



  15. Karin
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 3:28 pm · Link

    Your post was inspiring. I’ve been putting off organizing my space and I really need to get on it. Now I have some ideas of how I want to do that.

    Thanks for sharing the pictures, too.



  16. Vicki
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 3:28 pm · Link

    When I finished ATB, my office was a wreck. Papers everywhere, along with some Christmas stuff still needing to be put away.

    It took me the better part of day to get it mostly in order, but it was well worth it. I have two windows in the office, one behind me, which I never open and one to the side, which is nice. It doesn’t distract me, but it does give me a sense of the outside.

    And I use my headphones. Alot. :)



  17. R.J. Mangahas
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 3:35 pm · Link

    Great Post Sasha. I tend to write best either outdoors or where there are people. I need that stimulus going on around me. It helps keep me focused. If it’s too quiet, I tend to let my mind wander.

    By the way, a cat is very important to the creative flow. Good to know you have that. :)



  18. Sasha White
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    18
     · January 22nd, 2009 at 3:47 pm · Link

    HI Karin, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and hope it helps you create the space you need.



  19. Estella
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 3:49 pm · Link

    I need to clean up my space so I can find things. I think that would work for me. My sewing room has the piles.



  20. Sasha White
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 3:50 pm · Link

    Vicki, Natural light is a great thing for energy flow as well, so two windows would be awesome. The other thing that I learned this time around that made me feel good was that clutter, in Feng Shui, is stuff you don’t sue piling up. So when you’re working on a big project, and things pile up, it’s not considered an energy blocker, as long as it’s tuff you’re using or you need. And of course, if it doesn’t bother you personally. *grin*



  21. Sasha White
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 3:55 pm · Link

    Thanks R.J. I know exactly what you mean about the outside stimulus. I think that’s why I’m more productive when I’m also waitressing. The people give me energy and inspire me. Mind you, writing when surrounded by them woudl probably drive me nuts, simply becasue I tend to talk to much, and never shut up. LOL Hense, the aloneness being good when it’s time to actually write.

    And cats, yep. They are important. Strange that you mention it about them helpign with the creativity thing. I got a big cat tree for them for Christmas, and I chose to put it in my office too. RIght in front of the window where my desk used to be years ago, because I like having them near. Never really thought about it, but that makes sense.

    When I first started writing I only had one, now I have two. They take turns sitting on my desk, and helping me. LOL



  22. Sasha White
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 3:57 pm · Link

    Sewing is very creative, Estella. If the piles work for you, leave them.

    On the other hand, if you like organization, I’d try to find a bookshelf or closet organizer type thing to put them on/in. (Maybe even some of those wire boxes that stack or something?), so the colors and patterns were still visible and sparking energy.



  23. Marissa
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 5:43 pm · Link

    My trick to staying awake is having a large dog. She takes up 2/3 of the sofa, leaving me just enough space to curl up. Comfortable to writing, not comfortable for sleeping.



  24. Sasha White
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 6:04 pm · Link

    LOL. A dog would do that.



  25. Karen W.
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 6:13 pm · Link

    Hi, Sasha,
    I love your picture of David Boreanaz! He definitely inspires ME ;-)



  26. Vicki
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     · January 22nd, 2009 at 7:39 pm · Link

    That must be why it doesn’t bother me while I’m working on my book. But as soon as I’m through with it, I need the office clean before I can really start the next one.



  27. Beth Williamson
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    27
     · January 22nd, 2009 at 8:13 pm · Link

    I want to do that! I’d love to have a room that was “my space” that I could Feng Shui. Perhaps when my 17 YO goes off to college… Ah the possibilities. I think I’d have to have a super sexy cowboy pic or two in mine. Inspirational!



  28. vanessa jaye
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    28
     · January 22nd, 2009 at 9:29 pm · Link

    Lately the most productive place for me to write is on the subway train. I just tune everyone/everything out for 20 minutes and write. No dithering. I just need to apply that same focus at home. The problem is by the time I get home in the evenings I’m completely knackered.



  29. Sasha White
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     · January 23rd, 2009 at 3:22 am · Link

    Karen, Yeah, I’m a David Fan. :D He’s helped with a story or two. LOL



  30. Sasha White
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     · January 23rd, 2009 at 3:23 am · Link

    There you go, Vivki. Now, no more feeling guilty for the stuff piling up while you’re writing. It’s part of your creative energy.
    ;)



  31. Sasha White
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     · January 23rd, 2009 at 3:24 am · Link

    Hi Beth!!

    WHy wait until the 17 YO goes away? Can you claim a corner of a room? A desk? I’ll have to look for them, but there was stuff about that, if you just have a desk, or corner, or even if you use the kitchen table. I remember passing over it.



  32. Sasha White
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     · January 23rd, 2009 at 3:28 am · Link

    Hey Vanessa! Sounds like the subway acts as your personal egg timer. LOL Why not accept that you use that 20 minutes a day on days when you work, and it;s enough. Don;t feel guilty about it, because the negative feelings can then effect how you feel when you do sit down with more time.

    I’ve started to accept that I really only write new stuff on my days off. Since there is so much more to writing that just the actual writing, The days I work at the pub, I do website stuff, promotions, blog posts, mental plotting… that sort of thing. But it’s rare for me to actually get any pages done. Once I accepted that, it’s become easier…if that makes sense.



  33. Chi
    Comment
    33
     · January 24th, 2009 at 3:31 am · Link

    The conclusion is that no matter what the price, professional is better.



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