Three weeks after the first day of the second new year
Well, looks like Author gets to do the post she had planned for this week after all, nothing unexpected happened. That’s good, because the idea was to write it close to the beginning of the year. And although it is relevant to every writer, it is probably most relevant to writers who are just beginning or to those who are finding it difficult to set up a suitable workspace for themselves. Because that’s what this post is about: your writing corner. In this blog’s first year, Author has spoken about the need to find a way to allocate time to writing within the many other tasks we all have in all aspects of our lives. But it’s not only time that writers need. They also need to set up for themselves a place to write in, one they can work comfortably in. And like finding the time to write, finding the place to do so might also require some adjustment.
There are some things that writers need in order to do their work. A laptop is one. Some writers prefer to work on a hard copy in various stages of the work, and that’s fine, but you need to put that hard copy somewhere when you’re not working on it. Paper, pencils, pens, markers and whatever else you use, they need to be kept somewhere, too. And reference books—an ebook is comfortable to read, but some writers prefer to work with print books, and some books don’t have ebook versions. These and anything else you might need or want to have available to you when you write, they all need to be kept somewhere. And then there’s you, of course, you need a place to sit down and write. And so you see, you need a designated writing space.
Writers can work pretty much everywhere, at least in those stages of their work where they can rely on a laptop, which can be easily carried around. They can work in a library, in the park, or in their favorite coffee shop. But ultimately, writers—especially those who write works that take lengthy durations—need a central working environment, and the most convenient one would be their home. After all, home is where we’re usually most comfortable in, most flexible in, and tend to spend most of our time in. The thing is, though, that before you ever started writing you’ve already built your living space around you in way that is comfortable for you. You’ve done so to the best of your ability, and it has likely become routine, living that way. Whether you live alone, or with a partner or a roommate, or perhaps you have your family with you, your living space, yours and theirs, is already organized in a way that you’re all used to. Everything has its place, but there’s likely no space for everything, there nearly never is, is there? Family, work, hobbies, life, they all fill the space we have. And now that you’re writing, whether writing is your full-time work or whether it still occupies only a minor part of your time and you have another job you go to every day, you need to find a way to fit into that already-established, already-organized, limited living space, a place for you to write in. Just like you allocate time to writing within a schedule that might include daily errands, another job, the precious hours that you spend with family and friends, and whatever other tasks you might have set aside time for in your busy life, you need to allocate to yourself within a living space occupied also by your life outside writing and by the people around you some sort of workspace you can do your writing in comfortably enough to focus with as few distractions as possible.
And that’s not always easy. Author can tell you that while she had another full-time job, one that required its own workspace in her home, she found it difficult to allocate space to her writing. It had place on her laptop—that was the easy part—and a single drawer, that’s all. Only when writing became her full-time work did she begin to seriously accumulate reference books and research material, and the hardcopies started piling up—yes, Author likes to use them now and then, you already know that from this blog’s first year. And Author can tell you that she is still grappling with the space issue, still constantly changing her workspace as her needs as a writer grow. And the same goes for Sister. As the one who takes Author & Sister’s books from publication onward, just imagine the kind of space she needs, with laptops, a tablet and a phone, with notebooks and sticky notes (lots and lots of them, hanging everywhere). Yes, space is an issue.
Then again, no one says your writing corner needs to be a permanent one. How about a mobile one, a movable workstation that you can keep tucked away somewhere and bring out only when you have a bit of time to write? You can put your things on a couple of shelves, then move them to your coffee table or kitchen counter to work on at the time you’ve allocated for yourself, then put them away again when you need that space for something else. Or, how about this: there are convenient plastic storage organizers on wheels, you can decide how many drawers you want and what size. Author and Sister’s mom paints, and she has a mobile storage organizer with six drawers in which she keeps her art supplies, and she can put things on top of it, too. And it’s on wheels so it’s easy to move, and she can decide where in the house she wants to paint—in the living room, or on the balcony on a weather-friendly day. You can do the same, something of a similar size with wide drawers instead of narrow ones could be very convenient to put your papers, books, laptop, and anything else you need when you write. This will help you keep what you need in one place.
Of course, at some point you will have more reference books, more papers and notes and manuscripts, and you will need more space. But you can always clear another shelf somewhere or put up a new one—Author can tell you she keeps needing more shelves, and it seems that her desk is getting smaller with every book she writes. The important thing is to keep everything that you need for your writing in one place, in an organized manner. Otherwise, if whenever you want to write you need to collect things that are strewn all over the house, or keep them all piled up in a corner, that’s not great. You need to have everything organized in one place so that you can easily sit down to write in your designated writing corner, without any hassle and delays. Especially if you’re so busy that as it is you don’t get to set as much time as you would have wanted for your writing.
Author and Sister’s tip this week: no one can tell you what you need in order to do your writing, and if you’re just starting, you probably don’t know yet either. So start with the basics: you need a small corner of your own to comfortably work in. And no matter what your living circumstances are, you can have one. Whatever workspace you decide to set up for yourself, remember it’s just the beginning, just your first writing corner to start with. The rest will come later as you gain experience, learn what you need, and develop the place that writing has in your life. And perhaps it will one day pay for itself, and for a bigger, more permanent corner in your home. After all, isn’t that what you’re working for?