Do you have a room where you can create? Aside from becoming an early bird, finding the space to write was what made the most difference in my work. Before, I shared a small home office with Mr. Smith. (Do you know how hard it is to write fiction when the back of your chair is touching the back of someone else’s chair?!) Now, I am blessed and grateful to have a room for writing.
Here are three reasons you should stake your claim on a space to call your own:
I’m not someone who advocates eliminating all distractions as you work. I think you should adapt and train yourself to work with a distraction or two, because life happens! There’s always going to be a knock at the door, a dog barking at phantoms, or a text message from a precious friend. If you wait to work until you can eliminate all distractions, you’ll be doing a lot of waiting and not much working! But I certainly believe you should limit distractions.
For this reason, your work space should be as far away from the hub of your home as possible. Ideally, it should also have a door! You’ve heard the advice, “Write with the door shut; edit with the door open.” The door can be a signal to your family that you’d rather not be disturbed unless it’s important. More important than, “Where’s the peanut butter?”
If you’re trying to share a space, that means you’ve got to clean up after every session. Not only will this make it harder to pick up where you left off the next time, you might also start checking out a little earlier than you would otherwise. Think high school kids packing up their stuff before the bell rings so they can dart out the door before the next group arrives. There are precious moments lost.
I like to set up my projects the night before, so that I can see my reminders and know immediately what to start on the next morning. If you’re working at the dining room table, it’s hard to set up for the next day. You risk family members accidentally disturbing your project. Plus, you’ll be territorial and may end up coming off crankier than you’d like.
Every project is different. For my book, I needed to be able to see multiple characters and plot points all at once. So I taped a large length of wrapping paper to one wall and went bananas with a marker. I left my visual guide up for months. If I set up my writing headquarters in the living room, having a huge poster taped the wall might get…inconvenient.
I’m lucky enough to have a small room for an office, so I’m about to paint one wall with chalkboard paint for the next book. That way, I can keep track of more than one project at a time. I can even put a grocery list on there. Whatever project I start, my space can adapt to my work.
Stephen King said in his book, On Writing, that when he first started writing novels, he worked at a child’s plastic desk set up in one of the main living areas of his tiny home. So you know what? You can make great work wherever you decide! That said, King upgraded to an actual creative space as soon as possible, and you should, too. Where are you working now? How do you envision your ideal space? Are there steps you can take today to make it a reality?
P.S. Maybe you have the same problem I have–clutter that overtakes my desk in no time! That’s why I started the Clean Desk Challenge. It works for me, every time. Take back your desk in seven minutes a day!