Writing Spaces


No, I’m not tackling the art (and it is an art) of description. Not in this post. This is about the space in which you write.

I have a writing nook — a cluttered little space at the top of the stairs. I get a lot done up there. Maybe I should clear it out so I can use it again…

No discussion on the topic is complete without at least a mention of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. The idea of having my own, sovereign space, that such a thing could be important and necessary, appealed to me on a basic, instinctual level. Everyone needs — craves — a space in which to be themselves and be true to those selves without judgment or reprisal.

Growing up, I always shared a room with my sister. The only spaces we didn’t have to share were our beds, so that’s where I wrote the most. I didn’t have a room of my own, but I had a bed!

But it is so, so easy to take that concept literally and become caught up in the idea that you need a dedicated room in your home. And that’s just not feasible for all of us. And in the nature of procrastination, it is equally easy to fall into the trap of putting off writing until that room can be found.

Just sit and write. However you have to. Just do it.

I read one woman’s story of putting a desk in a closet and making her “room” that way. But her point — and mine — is that the space, the room, is a mental construct. Carve out a corner in your kitchen, if that’s what it takes, or your favorite coffee shop. The key is in the ability to set and enforce the boundaries that you need in order to write, to create. These are boundaries you have to enforce with yourself, friends, family, maybe even complete strangers. You can define your space by physical location or even time. The point is, wherever, whenever, you are there and your priority is to create.

I’ve found it helpful to notify people who might otherwise infringe on my space, knowingly or not, before it can become and issue. For a while, my husband and I instituted “creative hours.” They’ve fallen by the wayside, for various reasons, but they worked amazingly well.

Every night, 8-10 pm, we did not go out, we did not answer phones; I did not consume massive quantities of streaming video. And I used those two hours to write, to edit, to research, to read about writing (reading for recreation came before and/or after). My phone calls or internet chats had to be writing-related. We allowed ourselves to take two nights off each week, but we always set aside that time. We usually made it six days a week.

That was an incredibly productive period. I should revisit it…

I can’t say that everyone in my family understood, but I asked them to respect the space of that time, and they did.

However you define your creative space, no one will respect it more than you yourself do. Whether physical or temporal, do whatever you must to protect it. Turn off your phone, block the internet, or even leave your house altogether. Tune out those who don’t respect your “room.”

It’s so worth it.


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