Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Creating Your Perfect Speechwriting Environment

photo by Reg Saddler

Ahhhhhh. Do you hear that? It's the sound of quiet. The quiet that comes after 18 days of Winter Break. 18 days filled with anywhere from 6 to 20 kids in the house, and the cacophony of screams, whines, cries, yelling, and thankfully, a lot of laughter that accompany them. At last it is over, the kids are in school, and I can write again.

Well, that is, if I can ignore Facebook and Twitter long enough to type something. If I can turn off Pandora so I don't start typing the lyrics to whatever song is on instead of the thoughts I'm formulating. If I can focus on actually writing instead of the dozens of projects I have to work on.

Internal noise can be a lot harder to block out than external noise.


I have attempted, over the years, to create a perfect writing environment. I like to surround myself with books, artwork and toys - as many creative-types do. My toys tend to either be super-hero related or Star Trek themed, though I also have a Jack-in-the-Box bobblehead. The toys bring me joy, and transports me, subconsciously, I suppose, back to more innocent times, when I had less to worry about.

The books make me feel secure, in an odd way. I grew up always wanting a den with a big library - both of grandfathers had offices lined with books. Captain Kirk was always fond of 'real books', and of course, every motivational speaker I've ever heard talks about the importance of a personal library. While I probably have 10x as many books on my computer as I have as hardcopies, my external hard drive doesn't bring me quite the same joy as seeing the spines of real books lined up in my shelves.

Of course, I always have to have something on the desk to drink (usually diet Pepsi), and I can't let myself get too hungry. If it's too cold or too warm, that's a problem. If I let my desk get too messy, to the point my paperwork needs to be identified by carbon dating, lets say, it's tough to work as well.

With all of my efforts, my pain-staking attention to detail to master my environment, I have successfully created the perfect setting within to write. About twice in ten years. 

Who knows how many books, speeches, cartoons, paintings, and civilization-changing blogposts have been lost to the dedication to 'the perfect setting, the right mood, and exactly the right moment' to create, by creatives throughout the centuries?

The best environment to create, particularly for writers, is often right between your ears, extending to your fingers, while focusing on your page, electronic or otherwise.

Some of my best writing has come inside Carl's Jr., the airport, the city bus, and even sitting with 100 other people waiting to fight a traffic ticket. When I, beyond all logic, manage to simply shut the world out, and not worry about whether everything is in its place around me, but am focused instead on what's inside of me, waiting to be expressed.

There's nothing wrong with creating a great workspace. I just ordered a new Batman the other day with an Amazon giftcard, and, looking around me, I probably need to clean up again. But the perfect workspace isn't perfect if its the only place you can create, and for only those short, perfect windows of time when its exactly what you want. It becomes both a crutch and an excuse more than a facilitator.

Where do you create? What is the most bizarre place you've written something that turned out awesome? What do you consider your perfect writing environment?

The world we live in is imperfect and messy - but its also where we are most needed to create, and ultimately, to Speak & Deliver!

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