This week's session can be fun. We'll talk about finding time and space for doing our work. Virginia Woolf made a strong case for every writer needing a room of one's own. Many, many others have addressed this topic. No doubt you have discovered for yourself through your own experience that you cannot work if you don't have time and space dedicated to the cause.
Let's talk about writing space first. Having a dedicated space for one's work can make scheduling time for the work much easier. If you are trying to write at the kitchen table while your children and significant other watch TV in the next room, you are likely to be distracted. If that kitchen table is the only space your home has to offer and writing outside your home is not feasible, you may be forced to work mornings before anyone else in your home is awake or nights after they have all gone to sleep. If your best option is writing in a public place that will afford you a reasonable amount of privacy without interruptions (library, coffee house, diner, public park), you may have to schedule work time when the public space is available and when you are not committed elsewhere.
I am lucky enough to have a room dedicated to my work. I use this room for more than just writing; I paint and do crafts here too and, when we have guests, it sometimes serves as a make-shift guest room. It does not matter that the room is multi-purpose. What matters is that it is mine and mine alone. No one comes in when the door is closed. My family has explicit instructions not to knock unless there is an emergency that involves blood loss, vomit, or fire. If someone is really desperate to speak with me when I am working, they can send me an email which I will see when I feel like checking email. As you can see, my office is nothing fancy but it serves its purpose adequately.
I was not always blessed with the luxury of space. My first full length play, Mothers' Days, was written in two locations: the dining room table of the home in which I worked as a nanny and a table in a coffee house close to both my home and my job. There was a time when I wrote mostly in a study carol in a public library and, for a brief while, I had a desk in a large closet. One does what one must.
Where will you write? What are your options?
In last week's session, I encouraged you to make a schedule for your work and to start living that schedule. I hope that went smoothly, but chances are it did not, especially if this is the first time you have attempted to claim time for writing and its associated tasks. I sometimes envy my partner who goes off to an office every day where no one will ask anything of him but that he do his job. I realize he does not always see his nine hours a day for uninterrupted work as a gift and I certainly don't want to suggest that people with more structured jobs than my own have it easy. I wouldn't choose to trade places with them.
I love the freedom and flexibility that comes with being self-employed. I also recognize that productive self-employment requires stringently self-imposed structure. It is not always easy being your own boss. Hard as establishing structure for self-employment can be, it is even harder when when one bears the additional burdens of another "day job" or a family to look after.
I used to cram my writing hours into what few hours of my day were not filled with my other jobs, the ones that actually demanded my presence at the convenience of others. The result was that I was always exhausted and often found it hard to motivate myself to work at writing after a day of working for someone else was over. When I forced myself to do it, I was always glad I had, but it was not easy. I went through long sallow periods during which I wrote nothing at all. I didn't beat myself up for it...well, not much anyway. Sometimes other priorities, like paying the rent and raising children, take priority.
Now, writing is my full-time job. I am my own boss, which is both good and bad. I am very lucky to have my home to myself (except for the cat, who is happy to sleep in a window while I write) on weekdays and to have a family that values what I do enough that they honor my needs for time and space if they are home when I am trying to work.
Can you carve out time for writing and its associated tasks?
Will the folks who live with you support your work by
allowing you uninterrupted writing time?
When will you write?
Hint: At this point, when you are just establishing a work routine, consistency is far more important than quantity of time. If you can only give it 30 minutes a day while the kids are napping or on your way home from the office, so be it. 30 minutes every day is more than 182 hours per year. You could write a LOT in that amount of time.
- Decide where you will write daily.
- Decide when you will write daily.
- Write daily.