I like to get up early in the morning before the sun comes up and scoot upstairs to my own little space. I say “upstairs” when really my reading, writing, and thinking space is actually a room above the garage, popularly known as a FROG. I look forward to crossing the breezeway and bounding up the five steps to the wood paneled room with a skylight. Once there, I close the door for a while.
You can probably guess my last two writing tips: (11) Find your own space to write and then (12) go there and close the door.
Once you’re in your space, you don’t have to spend all of your time writing. You can read, take notes, review something you’ve already written, edit, and do whatever else it takes to prime the pump. Sometimes I putter, especially if I notice that the mantle over the fireplace is dusty or that the desk looks messy. I don’t consider those activities as wasted time, especially not after I read that Annie Tyler said she thought of a novel to write while painting a downstairs hall.
I’ve written in cars, on the beach, and even in faculty/staff meetings. While you have to seize the moment when the muse wants to visit, you must also be disciplined enough to retreat to your own private writing space on a regular basis. From A Writer’s Book of Days by Judith Reeves: “Make a place for your writing and furnish it with material that support you and your writing. A good desk or table, a comfortable chair, ample light that is flattering to your writing, shelves or bookcases. Keep the space sacred to go there joyfully.”
Writer Stephen King concurs with this opinion in On Writing and states, “Most of us do our best work in a place of our own. Until you get one, you’ll find your new resolution to write a lot harder to take seriously.” It doesn’t’ have to be anything fancy, King says. He wrote Salem’s Lot and Carrie in the laundry room of a doublewide trailer.
My space has a TV that hasn’t been turned on in three months. I’ m not even tempted by it. My husband recently provided a piece of equipment that plays music from my iPhone that I’ve used it a couple of times. I like background music, but I work best with no distractions. Usually the only sounds I hear are the whirr of the window unit air conditioner, the ping of raindrops on the skylight (lots of pings today!), and the clicking of keyboard keys.
Keep it simple and humble. King writes that the only real requirement is a door you can close. The closed door sends a message to the world and to you that you mean business. In his words, “You need the room, you need the door, and you need the determination to shut the door.”
Just curious: Where do you write? Is there a favorite spot in your home, or do you like creating in Starbucks or libraries or parks? And what about closing out the world and dealing with distractions? How do you handle that?
I like writing in coffeeshops. When I’m ultra-focused on a project, I get up early and write before anyone else is awake. I agree there is something almost sacred, about the quiet of the early morning. Lately I take any pocket of space I can find. Someday I’ll have a room with a door to write in. (when I get the energy to clean out the extra room and make it my own creative space!). Thanks for a great post.
Thanks so much for your comment! I hope I haven’t already mentioned this (didn’t go back and reread my post), but I once read that Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin sitting at her kitchen table. And did I mention that she had six children and a very small house? You can do it! Today I scribbled some lines while sitting on the beach with hundreds of other people.
I wish I had such a place, but I’ve managed without one. There just wasn’t any space for such a place in our little house, so to a large extent I got my privacy by writing after the rest of the family was in bed. I’ve written over a million words, so I would say that the drive to write trumps everything.