• Finding a Writing Space in Your Home

    Posted Posted by Justine Duhr in Strategies     Comments 19 comments
    Feb
    6

    Maureen Fisher-FlemingA recent conversation with a WriteByNighter got me thinking about the places and spaces in which we write. “My challenge is that I have to find a place to write away from home since there are so many distractions,” she told me. “My brain has to strain away the chaos so I can find the creative elements that let me write.”

    Finding a writing space is a common challenge. Technically, writing is portable and so we can write wherever we want. But we can’t write well wherever we want. That’s the catch. To be at our best, we need a space in which we feel comfortable (physically), safe (from the distractions and demands of daily life), and free (to express ourselves on the page without fear of judgment or censorship).

    That’s a tall order, sure, but it’s far from impossible.

    There will be obstacles—there always are—but with a little thought and experimentation, you should be able to discover or construct a writing space that works for you.

    In-Home DIY

    If you struggle with finding a writing space outside of your home, you might try instead to create a dedicated, inviting writer’s haven in your home. That way, the option to write is more readily available to you, instead of needing to travel just to get some creative work done.

    I know, I know. You don’t have enough room, you don’t live alone, the house is too noisy; there are these and a hundred other reasons why you just can’t do it. But a solution exists for every one of them; you just haven’t found it yet. Try this on for size:

    Small home: Find a nook, a corner—even a closet will do.

    Housemates: Write “I am writing. Do not disturb!” on a piece of paper and hang it on your door and/or near your nook.

    Noisy: If your nook has a door, close it. If not, invest in noise-cancelling headphones.

    As you consider your own ideal writing space, take a page out of WriteByNight client Simone Fuselier’s book. The start of her writing coaching with WBN marked a new phase in her writing life. She’s now ready, she tells me, “to put some serious time into honing my craft and developing a robust writing practice,” and finding a writing space in her home is part of that newfound commitment.

    Simone agreed to share with us her thought process in carving out her dream writing space.

    A WriteByNighter’s Must-Haves

    “I’m a spatial person and a natural light person—if I could live in a glass house I would,” she tells us. “I like contemporary style for its clean lines and spatial characteristics. So, I chose a glass writing desk and glass computer desk to enhance the feeling of space because the room is a little small. I also chose bookshelves with open backs to enhance the sense of space as well. And I positioned both desks near French patio doors to optimize light and fresh air and the outside world.

    “Here were some of my must-have criteria:

    1. Adequate space for my books. Need to be near my books for inspiration/references/research material/etc.

    2. Big desk – for writing and reading only

    3. Computer desk – for computer/printer only

    4. Lack of clutter/organized well

    5. Lots of natural light

    6. Comfortable desk chair, essential

    7. Cozy reading chair, essential as well

    8. Quiet & peaceful

    “To put a more poetic and less practical/technical spin on space, when I envisioned a writing space, I actually envisioned a ‘creative space,’ not just a place for writing but also a space for meditating, for pondering, for reading, for art, for music. Other than life itself and the experiences it brings to my writing, these other aspects inform my writing and are integral to my pen-to-paper process.

    “Writing is challenging enough without putting oneself in a position to be aggravated by the outer environment. First and foremost, I was most concerned and cognizant of how I would FEEL in it. I am quite a spiritual/mindful/meditative person, so the outer needs to support my inner world so that I can bridge the gap to express what lies inside. I needed it to be functional yet inspiring at the same time and it needed to fill me with joy so that I am repeatedly drawn to be in it. My ultimate goal was to create a space that I would want to WANT to be in—often.”

    Discussion

    As for me, I wander. I float. I move from the kitchen table to the couch to the bed, and back again. I go where the spirit moves me, and if I’m lucky, the writing itself will take me away.

    Do you have trouble finding a writing space? Where in your home do you write? Have you carefully constructed an ideal space? What does it look like? What does it feel like? What do you have in it? What do you like about it?

     

    Justine Tal Goldberg, ownerWriteByNight owner Justine Duhr is an award-winning writer and editor of both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Anomalous Press, Whiskey Island, Fringe Magazine, The Review Review, and other publications. She holds an MFA in creative writing and has provided writing instruction at Vassar College and Emerson College.

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    19 Comments to “Finding a Writing Space in Your Home”

    • Since I write my first drafts in longhand, I can write anywhere. In good weather I write out on the porch. There I have the tall pine trees to look at, and the fresh air helps my brain open up. I use a lap desk and get to work. It helps that my soon-to-be-retired husband hardly ever ventures out there to disturb me.

      • Thanks for sharing, Jill-Ayn. I also work longhand until it’s time to revise and also enjoy the freedom of portability (even though I rarely stray beyond my own front door).

        Writing outside is a glorious thing, especially first thing in the morning before the world is awake. I’m a little jealous of your porch …

    • I’m lucky to have a dedicated home office space. I love my big desk and all the shelves I can stack stuff on. I work from home, so the full-on office is a must, and also deductible at tax time.

      • Lucky you are, Jeri! Do you find that in a shared space your creative work and work-work get confused? I sometimes feel like when I work in bed, for example, I carry the stress of work with me into what should be a relaxing, sleep-ready environment. What are your thoughts on keeping creative spaces and work spaces separate?

    • I never write first drafts at home. Home is for rewrites and revisions. Years ago, i wrote longhand in cafes and on park benches. The best writing cafes in New York were the Caffe Borgia, the Caffe San Marco, and the Peacock Cafe. Now those cafes are gone and I blanch at writing in a Starbucks. UGH! Panera is a little better, but I do my best work at libraries, Barnes and Noble, and at my full-time IT job. and since my stroke, I usually write on computer. Cheers.

      • It sounds like you and WBN’s Tatiana Ryckman are of the same mind on that front.

        Starbucks, no thank you! Although I see people writing in there all the time, so we know it’s possible. The cafe area at Barnes & Noble looks inviting to me, actually. The library is sacred. The stacks, the smells, the silence–I’d live there if I could.

    • They say “Whatever floats your boat”, but I have a dinghy that’s awash to the gunwales.

      I write very sporadically, and my space is terrible: I have a very cluttered computer/electronics area in the middle of an unfinished basement. I do have a lot of books around, but they are totally unorganized. There are two little windows, whose only purpose is to let the sun blind me at certain times of the year. The whole place smells rather musty.

      As I said, it’s terrible; but since I’m usually at my computer I can work on a project for a moment or a day. It’s all rather spontaneous, which is a good thing. I have no deadlines, so I can put something away for a year and then go back to it. Sitting down with a pad and pencil would just put me under pressure to produce, or at least fill the page.

      As a matter of mechanics, I like the ease with which I can rip out or relocate a sentence or a paragraph. I can’t imagine using a typewriter.

      Curiously, when I’m writing a program or designing a database I always use paper and pencil.

      • I forgot to mention that I do have a mechanism for capturing ideas that occur to me at random times and places: I use a note program on both my mobile phone and my computer, and they are synchronized. If I’m sitting at a bar and decide my heroine’s hair should be red, I can make a note on my phone and then act on it when I’m at my computer.

        • Hey there, Jerry. Maybe your writing space isn’t as terrible as it seems. I mean, if you’re getting writing done there, it can’t be all that bad.

          There’s no rule that says our writing spaces have to be beautiful. In your basement, do you feel comfortable, safe and free? If the answer is yes, I think you’re good to go.

          • Well, the cat can’t get at the keyboard.

    • I have my writing place but it is noisy at times. Right now, I work around husband’s schedule so that I have the time of peace and quiet. However, I’m not sure if this is going to work for very long. My options are to have husband help me move my writing place or invest in the headset. I’m wondering if just plain old ear plugs would work. That way maybe I would still hear the phone ring but anything else would be drowned out.

      • I would consider noise-canceling earphones. I think you’d still be able to hear the phone, and they’d be a more flexible solution. Some people like to listen to music while working, others find it distracting. I can’t handle anything with vocals.

        Of course, earplugs cost next to nothing; so you should probably try those first.

        • If I were you, I’d try all three options to see what works best. While you’re experimenting, there’s no need to move your whole setup. Just try writing in a few alternative locations and see what feels good. Good luck!

    • I have a dedicated writing space. It has a big desk, a computer desk, filing cabinets, and a huge story board. I set it up just for me and I love it. My biggest problem is that now everyone wants to use it. I finally dug out the laptop and told everyone that when I want to use my space, they need to use the laptop. Of course, I’m at work most of the day and I do make notes to myself on a flash drive so I can work on them at home.

      • It’s so important to protect our writing space and our writing time, because they’re both so easily usurped by others. Good thinking with the laptop, Kristine!

    • […] week we offered tips on how to carve out your own writing habitat right in your own home, with WriteByNighter Simone Fuselier laying out in detail the steps she […]

    • I carved out this little nook in the bedroom. It faces the garden and the forest in the back of our house. Idyllic space with breathy breezes from tall, wide windows. When I sit at the tiny coffee table and work on the old laptop in this corner of the world, I am actually more productive (translation: more focused) than on the desktop in the living room, where the space opening into the kitchen and dining room yawns for attention. I just have to work on letting others know that I am not in the mood to talk.

      • Your comment is lovely, Shei. We don’t often think about prose quality in blog comments, but I’m struck by your smooth phrasing and evocative language. “Breathy breezes”; “tall, wide windows”; and the space doesn’t simply open, it “yawns.” Really nice.

        Thanks so much for this peek into your writing space. Sometimes letting others know that you’re not to be disturbed is as easy as closing the door!

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