Romancing Your Writing Space

Before this National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) began, I enrolled in Beth and Ezra Barany’s “30-Day Challenge to Preparing Your Novel for NaNoWriMo” program. In one session, we were asked to describe our ideal writing place.

I came up with a lovely ~ imaginary ~ work space, influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Desk on HaileyReede.comI’d like the work surface to be a bit longer than the one in this photo, please, with lots of pencil cups and a way for my laptop’s power cord to be hidden. Maybe a little more window along the new, longer desk, as well. And a fireplace. And it should be in a turret attached to our apartment – accessible to my family, but not quite convenient for them.

What I have found, however, is that I am writing more by hand than by laptop, and transcribing my words later. I use a 6” X 9.5” spiral bound notebook for all kinds of notes and To Do lists.

It wasn’t until I read Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking that I took seriously the snippets of fiction that would come to me; I have made certain to write them down as close to their appearance to me as I can. Didion describes how her husband, the late John Gregory Dunne, had used 3” X 6” note cards, printed with his name, to capture thoughts that might otherwise evaporate. She carried a small notebook. Didion reported that her husband had warned her that the “ability to make a note when something came to mind was the difference between being able to write and not being able to write.”

I agree. But what is one to do when one has a rambunctious, engaging family that wants your attention now, please? Here’s my I-am-woman-hear-me-roar solution: use snippets of time that otherwise go unnoticed and/or hide. I can jot down notes in the waiting room at the pediatrician’s office, or standing on line at the grocery store, or waiting for something to simmer in my kitchen. I can steal time away from the world at a Starbucks and, as I write, enter The Zone that is very productive. I confess, not only do I have pencils, pens, and markers in the kitchen cabinet where we used to keep the baby food, but I also have supplies in my bathroom. [Hey, Mom? Are you in there? Can I come in? Can I show you something? Will you be out soon?]

The Writer’s Zone is in my head for now. Turret to follow.