Sunday, April 15, 2007

Making Writing Space Sacred

Friday was a work-at-home day, where I come out to the office in my unattached garage (one of the biggest selling points when we bought the place over a decade ago) and had a great day. I had one of those days at work where you are working fast, slashing things off your to do list in a fugue state, and the next thing I knew it was 5pm and the day was over. One of the things on my list: Writing practice. And I just didn’t get around to it. I decided, well, I can take a break after my productive day, and do this after dinner, then it was right before bedtime, and then I was too tired. A typical scenario for me.

In fact, I even gave myself a break from the 2-a-day practice regimen that I had been doing fairly well with when I’m in my office in Columbus (one session in the morning about 10am and another either during lunch or around 3pm) knowing that I don’t do as well with the writing sessions at home. But I never asked myself why I couldn’t find the time to write here on the days when I have additional time gained by saving 90 minutes each day from not driving to work.

I opened the office door yesterday morning the urge to start anew, , sat down, and blanked out. There was too much stuff in the way. No room to pull out the notebook and write. Lots of notes, business cards, word tickets, and receipts scattered everywhere. Elvira had knocked over my pencil cups, and there wasn’t any clear space available on the large surface of my desk to work. Books had migrated to the desk surface when they ran out of space on my writing bookshelf. My paper tray, which was supposed to only be devoted to projects I am currently working on, was piled high with papers that I knew I needed to do something with, but didn’t know what, so I threw them in there to make a decision later.

So instead of picking up a pen or turning on the laptop, what did I do? I cleared off the desk. I threw everything off it. Then I got a little Fantastik and wiped off all the dust, crumbs and cat hair. I reorganized the books on my writing bookcase, removing those that could be on another bookshelf, and moved the books that had landed on my desk back up onto the shelf where they belonged. About 2 hours later, the desk had been cleaned, the shelves reorganized, papers sorted, and the area works better for me now. The resistance I feel toward sitting down and getting started is almost gone (it never truly goes away completely). So the time investment for reorganizing my work area was worth it.

Atmosphere is very important when writing. Disorganization is distracting. Not having the tools you need, such as pens, notebooks, reference materials, etc. on-hand and easy-to-find is also distracting. Constant interruptions, same thing. Sometimes the disorganization alone rips away your focus from your work. It reminds you about all of the other things that need to be done; The drywall work in the master bathroom, the pantry that needs to be cleaned, and all of the paper that you need to review and file.

Writers need to make our writing time sacred, and the place where we write a sanctuary from all that is not about the work.

No comments: