Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Space of One's Own

By Kerry Schafer

I've loved the posts this week, from those of my sister whores who have special writing spaces, and those who don't. It always fascinates me to get a peek into the world of another writer.

I do have a space.

I need one. This is because I have a concentration problem complicated by a complete and utter lack of will power.

My first writing desk was in the middle of the playroom when my kids were little. After that, it was the family computer, or the kitchen table, or the couch. All of these places are booby trapped. Middle of the playroom requires no explanation, other than that I find it not surprising that it took me ten years to complete my first novel. The family computer involves - well, negotiations with family. The couch is way too conducive to just falling over sideways into nap mode. And the kitchen table - well - there I seem to be fair game for any Viking, teenager, or cat with a problem, a question, or a "where did my socks go?" emergency.

I think Allison and Marcella are absolutely right about the space really being in your head, but for me I needed to make this physical - an acknowledgement that my writing life was important enough to deserve a space of its own.

So I appropriated the Mud Room as my office. Not that this is a perfect solution, of course. It is, after all, still a mudroom. The shoes & boots are stored here.

It's still part of the house and gets used by other people. For example, the Viking just stood by the door and sprayed mosquito repellent all over his masculine form which means it now reeks in here in a manner not conducive to writing.

None the less. There is a door. I can close it. And this signals to me, at least, that I have entered sacred space and it is time to write. This signal does not always reach the rest of the family. Even the noise blocking ear buds and music don't always shut them out, and I am frequently pulled out of a scene by a teenage hand on my shoulder. Or the feline helper demanding in and out through the door, or jumping in and out of my lap. Or a thundering Viking voice from the kitchen, asking "what happened to the sage?"

On weekends, when a lot is going on at home, sometimes I slip away to my favorite cafe. I have an understanding with myself that I am there to write. It assists me in setting that boundary. Sometimes I even come here when I could be writing home alone.

These are my preferred places, but certainly not the only ones. I still write at the kitchen table sometimes. Or in the car. I've been known to sneak in a few paragraphs at work. As to writing outside - well, I've tried that. I tend to get distracted by too much sun on the screen, mosquitoes, hummingbirds, whatever. Awesome window view from my office though, which this picture does not do any justice.


  1. "This is because I have a concentration problem complicated by a complete and utter lack of will power."

    LOL! I hear ya. Congrats on creating a space that your mind recognizes as "writing time."

  2. Yep. I have the same concentration problem. If I don't block out the outside world, it takes me three times as long to do half as much.

    Love your space!

  3. That's the whole point, I think - to trick ourselves into actually working instead of... everything else.

  4. I call it 'short attention span theatre' but yeah, I'm easily distracted and need a space to focus.

  5. The newest addition to my writing ritual is Freedom for Mac. It does a super job of setting aside a chunk of writing time, not only by assisting my willpower, but by marking the boundaries.