University Writing Center Blog

Posted on April 9th, 2020 in Creative Writing, Writing Strategies by University Writing Center

Written by: Emily S.

As an accompaniment to Logan’s post from Tuesday, our marvelous consultant, Emily, has provided a set of helpful tips on how to create a comfortable and productive work environment at home. Within her advice she includes some useful links that lead to further research and articles that all of us can benefit from!

For students who are used to classrooms and face-to-face interaction, transitioning to virtual classes for the rest of the semester can be extremely anxiety inducing. I’ve personally struggled over the past few weeks to find any motivation to complete schoolwork in the midst of a global pandemic, and I know I’m not alone. The reality we’re living in right now is scary, intimidating, and strange, and in the wake of everything happening, writing may be at the very back of your mind. Creating an environment that speaks to you and allows you to both focus and relax a little can help writing become more of an escape from the chaos than a chore. Here are a few tips on creating a space where you can be your most productive while learning from home!

  1. Choose a space you can dedicate to your writing and productivity when you need to focus. This space could be a desk, the kitchen table, a patio, your couch, anywhere you personally feel relaxed but still ready to work. You want the environment to be somewhere you enjoy writing, not somewhere you dread being. For me, it’s a cozy chair nestled in between my fish tank and my window. If you can, try to avoid making your bed this space. Some researchers believe working in your bed can actually make it more difficult for you to sleep. Having a dedicated space where you can work also helps you separate school from home, which is important in the midst of all of the chaos surrounding us.
  2. Determine how cozy you want to let yourself be. During remote learning, it can be very beneficial to set a schedule and stick to it in order to create some semblance of normalcy. This can go for your clothing as well. While some people thrive in sweatpants, others might find that working in clothes that are a little too comfortable can lead them to want to curl up and nap instead of write. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with working in comfy clothes if that works for you; I’m in leggings as I write this. However, if you find that your favorite pajama pants are inviting you to go back to bed, try dressing yourself as you would if you were attending class on campus. The act of waking up and getting ready can feel refreshing and give you the motivation you need to start writing.
  3. Try to find some source of natural lighting if possible! While we’re all at home during the stay-at-home order, it may be difficult for us to soak up the rays we normally would while walking across campus. Exposing yourself to natural light is important in boosting your vitamin D. It also combats against Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly known as Seasonal Depression. Not only does natural light have health benefits, but it also brightens a room and can help us feel more connected to the outside world. All of these effects can lead to more motivation to complete the writing tasks you have in front of you.
  4. Try to limit the distractions around you. At home, it’s very likely there’s already a plethora of distractions guaranteed to pull you from your writing. From taking care of children to walking your pets and everything else in between, life doesn’t stop just because you now have to work from home. There are going to be times you need to be distracted from your writing. One thing you can do to make sure you’re productive while you’re writing is to tune out the distractions that are not essential. Putting your phone on vibrate or turning off your eighth episode of Glee in a row (guilty as charged) can help you concentrate more on the tasks at hand.
  5. Keep items you may need close by. This ties into limiting your distractions. Before you sit down to begin working, make sure you have everything you could want within reach. Check for pens, notebooks, headphones, folders, etc. Making sure you’re prepared to get into a writing mindset makes it less likely that you’ll have to spend every few minutes rustling through your folders to find that assignment sheet. While I say this, it is still really important to remember that you should take breaks from writing and your coursework! Get up and make some tea, play with your pets, or grab some snacks to give yourself a little breather in between assignments.
  6. Make your space your own! What helps you write best? My writing space probably looks completely different from yours and that’s okay. Writing is an incredibly personal activity and your writing space reflects that. When creating an area to work in, it can be helpful to focus on the five senses: what can you smell, hear, taste, see, and touch? Do you like background music playing while you write? Are you a huge candle fan or would you rather have an oil diffuser running? Do plants and flowers help you feel more relaxed? Figuring out what works best for you is the most effective way to make a writing space you find productive.