Updated: Nov 16
When we moved into the condo many months ago, I fell in love with it primarily because it had a room off the living room with French doors that the previous owners had used as a teen media room. The realtors called it an office. I recognized it for what it was about to be – The Writing Studio.
I love it here.
Like, seriously, this is the only room I want to be in. It’s cozy. It’s colorful. There are pillows and blankets everywhere. I got books and notebooks within arms reach. And there are so many chargers.
This writing space was a long time coming.
Creating a writing space for myself has always needed to be a flexible experience. I’ve always just written wherever I could and when the mood struck me. Desks, recliners, kitchen tables, the floor, the front porch, and more often than not, my car. My car was a space that never let me down. The music was good, there were zero distractions, and if I got hungry the Wendy’s drive-through was never far. I would park at the far end of the Walmart parking lot– if it was unoccupied by retiree campers– and sketch out a scene.
Many times creatives like to wait for all the circumstances to be perfect before allowing themselves to create. They want to wait until they have turned their hall closet into a cloffice. They’re waiting to purchase the best supplies. They’re waiting to take the right classes. They want to wait until their house is clean. They want to wait until the kids have gone to school. They want to wait for retirement. It’s another form of procrastination.
It’s basically saying, “I’m worried that what I want to make is imperfect, so I am going to stall waiting for a perfect moment, therefore what I will eventually make will be perfect.” It’s this struggle of knowing that first drafts are lousy, but also falsely believing that “real” artists don’t make garbage. Everyone makes garbage, even in perfect creative spaces.
I am guilty of this false belief as well. Virginia Woolf wrote that a writer needs money and room of one’s own. Stephen King advised his readers that writers need a room with a door that closes. None of the places I had ever lived before were large enough to accommodate these needs – although I did use a small folding table and chair to work out of my walk-in closet for a short time. Yes, having a writing space is fantastic. But remember that a creative space is only a place where someone feels comfortable enough to create something.
One writer I know, Skypes a friend for Write-In sessions where they do not talk to each other, but only write while they are on the screen. One of my writer friends only needs a laptop, a couch, and endless episodes of Bridezillas. I wrote much of my last novel sitting at a table in the library listening to many episodes of the Dateline podcast.
I’m fascinated with both real and fictional writing spaces. I have a Pinterest board that’s mostly images of writers in their writing spaces – JCO, Susan Sontag, Neil Gaiman, Elmore Leonard, etc. My favorite scene in Knives Out is when the characters are playing a game in the writing studio, and you can see the post-it notes stuck above the old-school desktop computer. I have often thought about putting a bed in my own studio after seeing that room. I watched The Hours about Woolf who was depicted writing in her favorite chair where she threw a plank of wood across her lap and twirled a dip pen between her palms. I immediately set out to Lowes for a plank of wood and found a bunch of dip pens at an antique store in Hazel, KY. When I watch Wonder Boys, I envy Grady’s bay window, typewriter, and pink chenille robe that he wore when he worked. I eventually developed a fondness for a “thinking hoodie” which served me well in grad school.
Until we moved into the condo, I was doing all my writing outside of the house. I hit up every Whole Foods, Panera, and Starbucks that suburban Atlanta could offer. The WiFi was strong, the food was consistent, and the bathrooms were relatively clean. I just couldn’t write inside an apartment that was always distracting me with cleaning, cooking, and Netflix series.
But now I am spoiled to the Writing Studio, with my notecards taped to the walls next to pink post-its with character reminders like “Lindy’s Wife’s Name is now April, CTR F all Elizabeths” or “Ross wants to leave Kentucky” or “Make sure not all the characters voices sound the same.” I still have many of the same distractions, but I can close the door. Also, the clutter in the studio is mine, which isn’t nearly as distracting as seeing toys on the floor, homework sheets on the coffee table, and a pile of old lottery tickets next to Hubs' chair.
But in the end, the desire to make something is often stronger than the desire to ensure conditions are perfect. First drafts are always lousy. Sometimes second drafts are too. But the process of creating is the fun stuff.
Read Books. Wear Boots.