Evaluating Your Writing Space

Today, I consider my writing work space. I am struck by the fact that I have no “designated” space. At the beginning of the academic school year (my life is still organized by “academic school years”), I cleared off a desk in the back room, called the “office”. As the days and weeks progressed, however, the desk became cluttered. It became the “dump” pile. I didn’t clear it off regularly, and neither did I have a designated time I would write. So as I practice the writing prompt in the book I’m reading, On Being a Writer* I am challenged to consider the practical application of a dedicated space and time for writing, and how I can improve.

And boy, do I have plenty of room to improve! Writing effectively requires deliberate time and space. It is an intentional decision. This writing prompt is useful to me, because it is practical, and because I need the extra push to make it happen.

I happened to watch a recent interview of Elizabeth Strout, a best-selling author, and in this interview, she described her writing process. She explained how she writes a novel, and how her characters develop. She hand-writes her scenes, and scatters her papers all over a large table.  She starts working, piecing together the papers, rearranging, moving characters, changing, until something makes sense. She never writes from beginning to end. As she was explaining, I was surprised I  began to feel a little bit jealous… not jealousy for her success, or her process… but for the time. She has the time to devote to what she loves, to the process of writing.

I realize, after listening to her, and reading the book, that what I desire most right now, and what I need, is some sort of dedicated time. I also realize only I can structure that. There is no one else in this world who will do it for me. I have to make it happen, and even if it’s only a couple of hours a week, well, that is a beginning as good as any other.

Writing, for me, is a two-fold investment. It is a deeply personal activity, as I have been keeping a journal most of my life; it is sort of like therapy, but also almost as essential as breathing. I can’t imagine going anywhere without a pen and paper, or a laptop, or some other means to write. Writing is also a craft that I desire to develop. I am seeking to improve, to be satisfied with what I create. I also hope others will enjoy, be helped, or be inspired by that creation, and it will be a God-glorifying end.

I make an effort to write, but it is not a scheduled time, and it is usually at night after the kids are in bed. As for concerted time, however, I have only just realized I can take a couple of windows each week of dedicated time that I know will be uninterrupted as the kids will be involved in something else. It will require some planning ahead, but it is something I can most definitely do. :) It hasn’t happened yet because I have not intentionally planned for it. This week, though, I will have one small window which I can devote exclusively to my writing, without interruption.

How about your writing time? Is it scheduled, or more open-ended? How do you fit intentional writing time into your schedule?

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*I am reading On Being a Writer, by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig, and this blog post is the result of a writing prompt. If you need to take a look at your writing life, or need a fresh perspective as you work on writing deadlines, restructuring your goals, prioritizing your time, I encourage you to read this book to help you self-evaluate and propel you to the next step in your writing life. 
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