So when we talk about the writing space, what exactly do we mean? Generally we would be talking about the room itself, the chair and desk from which we navigate our creative ship and hopefully the four walls that surround us. We’d also be talking about what we’d put on those walls, and the physical tools of the trade we’d use to record our work: pencil, pen, paper, computer, vocal recorder, etc. Let me start by saying this should not be taken lightly. This is your writing home, so care should be taken to make it as comfortable and creatively conducive for what you have in mind; creating your baby or babies, not with your significant other, but with the muse, when it sees fit to grace you with its presence. Let’s make this simple. That chair’s gotta be comfy, ‘cause your bottom’s gonna spend a lot of time in it. I like a swivel chair that reclines a bit, has adjustable height and wheels to roll about. Variety is important to me in this most important piece. Then the desk. I read in a craft book, and some of my creative writing professors concurred that your desk should always be wooden, something about the organic nature of wood and creativity. I don’t know that to be true, but I got me a sweet, inexpensive wooden desk from Target that just happens to be my favorite color: black. You should listen to your mentors, professors, and in general the ones that came before us. They did something right to get where they are. How ‘bout those boring blank walls. I have drawings of some of my characters from the stories I’m working on. Guru.com has some incredible artists for reasonable rates … cheap! I have my gold and platinum record awards on the wall from my music days. They have nothing to do with writing but they make me feel good and that’s important. Find things that make you feel good and put ‘em up! I have a caricature of myself on the wall. It makes me laugh. We all know what laughter does … put ‘em up. Ooh, if you can do adjustable lights with different colors, do it. There’s nothing like setting the mood and being able to manipulate that mood. You may need to change the mood when you run into that block. Yikes! What are you writing with? Pencil, pens, paper? Make sure you have enough paper, ink, and a sharpener. I heard the same for pencils, pens, and paper that I did about that wooden desk, the organic thing, but I predominantly use my computer now, and my most inspired work has come from the tips of my fingers to a keypad. Here’s one for ya-- a thermostat. Changing the temperature in a room can change the mood, and again mood matters. I mentioned four walls at the start for a reason. You need to be able to isolate yourself with a locked door and the ability to cut yourself off from the outside world including phone calls, text messages, the internet/social media and the like. Ouch! I know, right? Then round it off, or better yet square it away with a library/bookshelf with your favorite books in it and a few not-so favorites. Don’t forget craft books. They're important, too. Writing’s a creative act, duh! So get creative with some incense if that’s your fancy, some music, maybe Jazz or classical or whatever, not distracting, but to again, set a mood. And when you have to take the space mobile, as I do more often than not, have a small pad and pencil that fits in your pocket or purse (not the front pocket guys). A voice recorder which comes standard on most smarter-than-us phones is perfect for the mobile writing space, especially when you’re actually driving. (Please don't write and drive.) The point is, your writing space is personal, no two spaces will be the same. Create a space that is comfortable, inspiring and conducive to the creative process. Make your space work for you so that you can work in your space. Happy writing.
OK, so I’m putting the finishing touches on IA: B.O.S.S., a middle grade sci-fi novel and part two of the IA series. It makes sense to talk about writing or “the writer’s life” in real time, in the real world, not theory. Well, first let’s have some fun. Since I’m currently writing in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, here’s my fantasy, the writer’s life I envision:
I write for living, and make a whole lot of money doing it, so I get up when I want to, which is early because I’m a morning person. Here’s the schedule.
• 6:00 – 6:30 Short workout like Rocky in the first Rocky movie, music and all, right?
• 6:30 – 7:00 Clean up and eat breakfast not too big or little, but definitely healthy to start the day.
• 7:00 – 8:00 Connect with some of my many fans and followers, and I have a lot of ‘em. Remember, dream big.
• 8:00 – 9:00 Read something, anything to warm up the creative muscles, get the juices flowing.
• 9:00 – 11:00 Write! I just happen to be working on IA: Union, the third in the IA series and the muse is definitely on my side today.
• 11:00 – 11:30 Lunch, my biggest meal of the day, also healthy. A healthy body produces a healthy mind conducive for creativity.
• 11:30 – 2:30 18 holes of golf. Nothing like staying physically connected with nature.
• 2:30 – 3:00 Nap or meditation. One usually leads to the other for me. Ha!
• 3:00 – 4:00 Read. Preferably something in the genre that I’m working in. I’ve been meaning to get into “Kindred” by Octavia Butler. There’s no time like the present.
• 4:00 – 5:00 Writing/editing! remember it’s what I do for a living in the world I’ve just built for myself. I’m writing “Union” if the muse has returned, editing B.O.S.S. if not.
• 5:00 – 6:00 Reading some more of “Kindred”. I’m really getting into this one.
• 6:00 – 6:30 Dinner and nothing but dinner. Like Yoda, my favorite philosopher said, “Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph.”
• 6:30 – 8:30 Watch a film for enjoyment and a snack. Remember, it’s all about storytelling in any form. I think I’ll go with “Avatar” tonight for the umpteenth time.
• 8:30 – 9:00 Meditation: nurturing that soul again, you know?
• 9:00 – 9:30 This one’s hard to put down.
• 9:30 – 11:00 Recency Writing: Primacy Recency effect says we remember the first and last items in a list. I apply that to the first and last things I do in a day: Write, and it works for me.
• 11:00 Bedtime whether I like it or not.
Now for my reality:
• 5:00 – 5:30 Struggle to wake up and eat
• 5:30 – 6:15 Commute my daughter to school and get to work.
• 6:30 – 7:30 Prepare to teach, grade papers, make copies of assignments, lesson plan, work on my homework, fantasize about writing, tweet, post on Instagram, Facebook, and/or Goodreads maybe.
• 7:40 – 11:40 Teach, yay!
• 11:40 – 12:40 Lunch and find a room in my building where I will not be disturbed by anyone so I can write or revise. Sometimes that’s my Grand Cherokee.
• 12:40 – 2:40 Teach, yay, not so much.
• 2:40 – 3:00 Dismiss students, yay again.
• 3:00 – 3:30 Commute to pick up my daughter, fighting to stay awake as the bright sun has become my sleeping pill.
• 4:00 – 11:00 This depends on a multitude of possibilities my daughter has in store for me, from going to the library to basketball or tennis practice/games/matches or guitar or piano lessons/performances etc. This will determine whether I can read, write, or tackle social media in the close quarters of my Cherokee, a deserted high school corridor, or a preferred library. Meals are optional and erratic at best.
The point is, the fantasy is not likely. So what is your writing life like? How can you plan to fit the essentials of reading, writing, and nurturing the mind, body, and soul in your hectic day-to-day? Of course, no plan or list will look the same, but it should contain the essentials and depending on your goals a few of the extras, like time for social media, the lifeblood of the self-published author.