Friday, May 1, 2020

Refining Your Writing Space for Sheltering at Home

One of my favorite writing treats when life seemed normal was an afternoon at our local coffee shop. Surrounded by a dozen others, all plugged into their laptops and earbuds, we wrote.  Sun came in the big windows, I sank into my leather chair, and I sipped a new choice of tea in the coffee shop's huge mugs.   
I wrote at home too, when my family was out of the house.  But mostly at the coffee shop.  I was insanely productive there, even with the music and crowd and cramped space.

Then my coffee shop went to take-out only. For the first month of Covid life, my writing stalled completely, so I didn't even miss the coffee shop.  After a month, I began missing my story. But where to write? 

I began asking other sheltering-at-home writers what they did.  Most found it hard to suddenly have company around, trying to create at the kitchen table while spouse worked in the guest bedroom/office and kids played in the living room.  A casual question from a passing family member could derail the thought train for the day.  Some succeeded with good earbuds.  Others, needing to be more unobserved, suffered.

I'm lucky enough to have a home office.  A sunlit and pleasant room, it has a door and plenty of privacy.  But it's where I teach, edit, and coach other writers, where I get immersed in other people's writing.  Not my own.  It's not set up as a creative space.  

I thought about options.  The bedroom was one.  A cozy chair by the window alcove, my laptop on its EMR lap board, the door closed.  That worked for a few writing sessions.  Another was my office but away from my desk--using a stand-up counter above a low bookshelf.   A third just opened up:  our screened porch.  It's still April chilly most days, typical of New England, but soon I can use it.  

All this searching led me to ask:  What's really essential to creativity?  How can I adapt, what do I absolutely need?

1.  I need a sense of privacy. To lose myself in my writing means being unobserved.  This can't easily happen within a sheltering family, but I can negotiate.  Put up the do-not-disturb sign for an hour or two if agreed in advance.  

2.  Sound controlled by me.  I don't need quiet, just white noise, be that other people's blurred-out conversations in the coffee shop or no-words music.  Earbuds worked well.  Even when I didn't listen to music, just blocked ambient noise.  

3.  I really prefer a very comfortable chair and laptop on lapboard or a stand-up desk to my office desk and chair.  Best of all, having my feet up.  Or if I get the rare moment alone in the house, using a the dining room table to spread out story notes and storyboard.

For fun, here are a few links to read about writing spaces preferred by well-known writers.  They are so varied, which confirms that our search for creative space during Covid times will be quite individual.  I wish you all good results from your journey.

If any of the links don't work, go to the sponsoring website and search for the topic.  Enjoy the cool photos, too!

From The Write Life:  Where 9 creative writers do their best work.

From Writing Cooperative:  100 famous authors and their writing spaces.

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