Claiming a space in which to write is just as important as carving out a time to write in your daily routine. When you designate a place to work, you are once again saying writing is a priority in your life. You are validating your decision to be a writer. You are proclaiming you mean business. Knowing ahead of time the location where that writing will occur, removes another stumbling block from your goal toward becoming a published author.
Over the years my writing places have changed, and continue to change. When I was younger, I had a desk by a window in my bedroom where I did schoolwork. When I married and moved into a one-bedroom apartment, my space became the kitchen table. Our first house presented me the luxury of a spare bedroom. After two children, I was back to the kitchen table. When the babies sprouted legs and grabby hands, I had no space at all. A tote bag became my “writing space.” Wherever I toted the bag became my writing space! That creative place might have been a dining room table, the public library, or a coffee shop. Any moment I could snatch a block of time, I had my gear all packed and ready to write. Back then my stories unfolded with pen and paper, which I later transcribed into a typewritten manuscript: pen and paper were easily portable; my Smith Corona Electra 120 was not so easy to haul around. I still keep a small notebook and pen tucked into my purse to capture unexpected writing opportunities.
In the late eighties/early nineties, I began using a computer to compose my pieces. Anyone remember the Apple II GS? Once I settled into a desktop, my designated writing place became more permanent. The children were also older and respected my desk area. For many years now, I have enjoyed the best situation: I have an office in my home. My desk in my office is by a window and I am alone once more. I also have cabinets where I file potential story ideas, works in progress, finished pieces that need to be submitted, and stories that are “out there” looking for a home.
If you have the luxury of selecting your place, choose somewhere you will enjoy going. I like to be able to see outdoors. I do not like closed-in spaces; I feel restricted and confined, which in turn hampers my creativity. I find this openness freeing and inspiring. If you find yourself easily distracted, then perhaps a more secluded place would be a better choice. When I am away from home, the first thing I do is stake out a place for me to write. I love gardens, front porches, park benches, quaint coffeehouses where I can nestle in by a fireplace or sit by a window that overlooks a sidewalk or alley. The beginnings of many stories and ideas for characters have been born in these away locales. I also have a list of inspiring areas in which to write close to my home. As important as it is to have a designated space to write, it can often be re-energizing to shake up your routine occasionally; however, if you are just starting to write or are having difficulty developing a regular routine, I strongly recommend selecting a regular place to write.
Once you've set aside a time to write and a place to give your ideas concrete form and structure, your path is cleared to write on a regular basis . . . it is now a part of your routine. There are no more excuses.
This column brings us to the mid-point of the series, “What Kind of Writer Are You?” At this point your “Writer Within” should have:
- Clarified your motivations and expectations for writing
- Acquainted you with your writing muse
- Revealed your best times for writing
- Created a visual image of your ideal writing place
In the second half of this series, we will move into what you will write, for whom you will write, and in what manner you will write. The next two columns will look at what you should write: Column Six will be “What Is Nonfiction?” and Column Seven will be “What Is Fiction?”
Step Five: Stake out a place to write, write every day, and sign your name to it.