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My perfect workspace. What's yours?
Photo courtesy of Johnny Vagabond

Hey  <<First Name>>
In the name of reviewing, resetting and renewing (all the things that a Mercury Retrograde is good for),  I pose this challenge to you for May:  

Experiment with your physical creative environment.

This may be simple or difficult, depending on your creative outlet, but here are some ways you can tinker with the place and set-up of how you create.

Tools:

  • Try an analog, digital or otherwise different version of how you create. This will be easiest for writers probably. If you type on a computer, try writing on paper. Or, if you are a photographer who shoots digitally, try shooting on film.
  • Conversely, if you are a DSLR snob, see what you can accomplish with a smartphone camera. A lot more professional work is being shot on iPhone 6 cameras than you may realize.
  • Lean towards tools that don’t require a huge learning curve. The point is to improve your productivity.

People:
  • If you typically work alone, try working in a setting with others. This can include working in a coffee shop or public place, but take it up a notch and text your friends and have them meet you at a spot to work. Turn it into a working jam session, where you not only work on your project, but give and receive feedback from others. Musicians are great at this naturally. I wish more creatives would adopt the jam session model.
  • Conversely, if you usually work with a team, try to get at least an hour a day to work and ideate without interruption.

Day and Time:
  • Are you really a night owl, or is that the only time of day that’s quiet enough for you to be productive? If sound and energy are the issue, you can often find the same environment by working early in the morning.
  • Do you save your projects for after work? Try blocking out a whole weekday or weekend and see if there is a difference in your output.
  • On the flipside, the prospect of finding more than an hour at a time may be daunting to some. Many of our favorite authors started writing on their lunch breaks at work. See what you can accomplish during shorter amounts of time. Time limits can lead to more productivity.

Sound:
  • I have written this before, but finding video game music to work to on Youtube has had THE biggest impact on my writing productivity this year.
  • Ambient noise and background people chatter works for some. I find working to music I like is too distracting.

Your Body:
  • If you normally sit, stand. If you normally stand, take more frequent breaks and move around. Sitting is more unhealthy than smoking, not using a helmet and eating ribs combine, apparently, so keep that to a minimum.

While experimenting, log your time (I use Toggl) and output to see if any of these changes contributed to a change in your work flow and productivity. Simply answering the following questions should suffice:
 
  • What did I get done during that time frame?
  • What went well?
  • What was a challenge?
Be sure to share your results with me via email, Twitter or Facebook. On social media use the hashtag #HWSpaces.

Constantly Improving,
Chakka AKA Liz Lemonade

ICYMI: The Highwater Podcast is LIVE! Check out Tuesday's episode with TV scholar and OpenTV Founder Dr. Aymar Jean Christian.
 
Highwater Weekly Picks  
Note: Award details and deadlines are subject to change. Consult each application website for the most accurate and up-to-date information. 

Toolbox
  • WRITERS: PEN CENTER USA's Emerging Voices Fellowship is a literary mentorship that aims to provide new writers who are isolated from the literary establishment with the tools, skills, and knowledge they need to launch a professional writing career. The seven-month program (Jan-July 2017) includes professional mentorship, classes at the UCLA Extension Writers Program, a $1,000 stipend and much more. Deadline is August 1. Apply Here.
Watchlist
  • Lipstick City is a far-out and fierce drag drama starring Shea Coulee and RuPaul's Drag Race Season Eight finalist Kim Chi, who I absolutely adore. Lipstick City is one of the many awesome digital works produced by OpenTV. Watch Lipstick City Here
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