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Monday, April 21, 2008

Your Writing Space

Your Writing Space:

A very important aspect of writing is your surroundings when you write. Have you created a space that supports your creative nature? Do the things around you, the items in view, the chair you sit in, the smells tickling your nose support or inhibit your creative self? Have you ever thought about this? You should!

Now, admission time, I have to laugh a little at the topic I chose for my blog because I need to follow my own advice. My writing space is most often not inspiring in the least. My desk collects clutter faster than my floors collect my dog’s hair. (Trust me that this is freakishly shocking!) On it, in addition to papers from my children’s school, I see power cords to charge the multitude of electronic devices in our home. I have a sizable stack of papers that ‘must be attended to immediately’ because the basket I have in my kitchen for this stuff is towering and leaning into the toaster. My hands can instantly land on a variety of notes my children have written, like a recent one to my husband from our seven year old daughter, “Dad, I want a chocolate sundae with chocolate sauce. I do not like Greyson (her 12 year old brother) at all.” *sigh*

And this morning, where am I? I’m sitting at my children’s computer because the one my husband and I share has gone on the fritz. So let me look around and see what inspires me this morning. Ah, CD’s and DVD’s and Game Cube games are scattered everywhere. There are numerous action figures staring at me. Ah, there's Phil from Disney’s Hercules glaring at me. Here’s the boxed set of Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Oh…and a couple of iTunes gift cards. Could be useful. I wonder if the kids will miss these?

Ok, so you can see that I need to create a space that honors my writer-self. Everyone should. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Don’t over think it. The idea here is that you are a writer and if you treat your space (and time!) seriously, you will then take yourself seriously.

Some ideas are a clutter free desk. (The idea of this sends a flutter to my heart!) Perhaps a bulletin board above your desk with inspirational photos, quotes that speak to you, colors that make you feel good or maybe a mini collage of images that relate to the book you’re writing. Some people light a candle, usually the same scent. I know some people have the same drink at hand, whether it is water, tea, diet coke…whatever helps you feel comfortable and get into your zone.

Your space can be anything, but make it something. Create and honor your writing space. Honor your writing self.

Tell us about your space? Inspire me to spruce mine up, would you please?


Gerb said...

Wish I could inspire you to spruce up your space, Ginger, but I'm doing my writing this morning while sitting in a Honda dealership waiting to get C's car tuned up right now. Not a whole lot inspiring here. (Now perhaps if I were sitting a little closer to the show room instead of parts and service...)

A couple of days ago I wrote in airports and on planes. Later this week, I'll be writing as we drive cross-country.

I think there is a lot to be said for perfect, creative writing spaces - and I was thrilled when I got my own office at home - but it might not always be possible to surround yourself with the perfect environment and that get in the way of writing.

That said, I do write better (or at least more efficiently) in my own office. I just can't rely on being home all the time to enjoy it!

Ginger Calem said...


You make a great point. I know I spend plenty of time writing on soccer fields, in my car, on airplanes, etc. It is important to learn how to mentally create that writing space as well...find what it takes to get you in the zone so no time away from your 'desk' is wasted.

What is the most bizarre location you all have written? What was the most challenging?

The most challenging for me has been in the summer at the lake. For one thing, it's hot and that zaps my creativity somehow. And for another, the lake is constantly calling me and I want to waterski over write. :) ~g

Jennifer McAndrews said...

This "mobility" as it were is one of the reasons I like to listen to music as I write, and I sort of designate specific music to specific characters or stories. While I do have a home office (currently being used as general storage *s*), more often than not I'm catching odd moments to write. I always have a notebook with me for unexpected spare time, or my Neo if I'm traveling or away from the computer. I also always have my iPod on which is loaded these story or character songs. It helps me get right into that writing zone. So I guess... my writing space is more a virtual space. I am constantly creating a space in various geographical locations.

As to the most bizarre or challenging place I've written in... no place seems too bizarre any more. I've got entire scenes written on the back of Chinese takeout menus because I wrote them while waiting for my To Go order. As to challenging... any place where kids (especially mine) are present is challenging, I think because the Mom in me is trained to always attend to a child's voice (another reason the iPod helps *s*) (I also have a pair of ear mufflers - the kind we take to the firing range. They seriously block out sound!)

Julie O'Connell said...

My writing space is usually at the kitchen table, because our office is used for homework for the boys and for J's Doctorate in Free Cell. *g* I also take the laptop with me to the dance studio - it's tough to write there, but I do get things done. My biggest challenges are the other moms that I chat with during classes. Since I'm pretty tired by that point in my day, I get easily distracted. And some of those women are fun to hang out with. The ones that aren't get the 'sorry, I have to work' and up goes the 'puter screen.

Most bizarre location for writing? Chair in dance studio, driver's seat of my parked car, at work (yes, I'm on the bullet train to heck for that one). Not too bizarre.

And I never listen to music while I write. I actually find it's easier to get in my head if I have quiet around me - something I don't have very often. Sounds like Jen's noise cancelling ear mufflers are just what I need!

Nicole Maggi said...

Great post! I think it is really important to create a sacred space when you write. I also think it's important to be able to make your sacred space mobile. :-)
I started writing my first novel when I was bored at work so I have developed a skill of being able to write almost anywhere. Half of my first book was written on the trading floor of a huge investment bank! I guess that would be the most bizarre AND challenging place I've written in.
Now I'm definitely more comfortable at home, but if I know that I'm going to be in someplace other than my regular writing space, I try to bring something from that space with it music (like Jen) or a candle or a little crystal - I have a giant quartz in my writing space that I often put in my lap when I write, but I always travel with a mini-size quartz, too.