Nurturing the creative writing space — the physical, mental and emotional challenges of keeping it sacred
Writing can be a very isolating profession.
So, you can see why having a dedicated writing space is important. It can be just a small office, or it can be a corner in your house, but a writing space is an area that is just for you and your writing.
It’s a space that you can retreat to get your thoughts down on paper, or a place where you can do your research for your next book. It can be your quiet time.
I was in the full flow of writing blogs and course outlines, when the builders descended upon us for 2 months — at a day’s notice! I hadn’t realised just how much a problem this would be for a writer who, in theory, should be capable of punching out a blog, chapter or course module in the car, with an iPad.
let’s face it, there are people travelling and living in small vans, making a decent living from vlogging or blogging. Yet I felt stymied and the inspiration dried up.
As I approach my 60th journey around the sun, I realised I need my writing space and I’ve become very set in my ways.
Although I may sound rather precious about my writing space, it is very messy. But it is ‘my messy’ and I know where everything is. It’s always been this way and as an undergraduate, I wrote my best essays sat on the floor with a 360 degree ring of book stacks. Each stack made sense to me — I just had to decide which direction to reach and how far up I needed to go for my research.
Today, I don’t sit on the floor, and the books are on shelves. I have a proper desk, a supportive chair and woe betide the person who borrows a pen and doesn’t return to it to its exact spot! In my advancing years, I became OCD about my creative writing space.
1. Writers Need a Comfortable Writing Space
A writer’s place to work is a very individual thing. Some writers like antique desks in the corner of the living room. Others prefer a separate room they can set up as an office. Many prefer the kitchen table, a comfortable recliner with a laptop, or a basement room with soundproof walls. What’s important is that it’s comfortable, doesn’t restrict your flow, and has the best energy for being creative.
2. Writers Need Mental Space to Create
The second type of space you need to write well is mental space. This one can be more difficult as your mind is with you all the time — you can’t simply set it aside or stuff it in a drawer. (If only, right?)
Unfortunately, it’s common for our minds to be filled with worries and stresses these days, leaving little space for creative thought.
You may sit down to write and think about your child’s schooling (or lack thereof), your financial situation, your job and how you’re going to manage it, the latest headlines on the news, or your parents and whether they will stay well.
All of this creates mental clutter, which is more stubborn than physical clutter, as you can’t simply throw it away. There are ways to clear it out, though, and clear it out you must if you expect to write.
Some writers enjoy meditating, others create tick lists for the day and when everything is accomplished — they feel cleared to write. I like to focus on my breath for a minute or two. This takes the focus away from the random thoughts and helps me feel ‘grounded’ for writing.
I once read that the most valuable inspiration arises when we are not thinking — this is certainly true for me, so a quiet mind is ideal.
3. Writers Need Emotional Space to Write Well
You may have a pristine home, a clean and inspiring writing space, and a clear, focused mind, but still have trouble writing because of a cluttered heart.
Emotions piled atop emotions fill up your emotional space. This is common if you haven’t had the time or courage to face your emotions and process them healthily.
To write for yourself is a great release for emotions, finding perspective, grieving and ranting, etc. Journaling is one way that helps a writer declutter the heart. We are all different, but if you yearn to write, your emotional space is sacred, too.
It doesn’t matter whether you write in an office, a car, a shepherd’s hut or under a tree. Comfort, mental and emotional space are 3 major priorities.
Writer/teacher/course creator & existential explorer. Animal & nature lover, chilli grower! Courses: helendavita.com