A room (and a clock) of one’s own: On keeping the writing space and writing time sacred

I have never heard a single writing friend complain about having too much time to write. Rather, it’s always the reverse. Whether the challenge is a full-time job, a full-time child, or a simple need to sleep, the fact is, life will always get in the way of writing. If you let it.

Which brings me first to the idea of space. And I’m not talking about Neil DeGrasse Tyson territory here. I’m referring to the place you return to, day in and day out, for the purpose of composing. Maybe you write sitting at an antique desk with a breath-taking ocean view. Maybe you write in a hip coffee shop, conversation and the smell of roasted beans and steamed milk swirling around you. Maybe you write in bed with a teddybear for company. No matter your ideal writing environment, it is important to your craft and production rate that you have a place marked out as your own sacred writing space. Be it ever so humble (a buddy of mine swears by the cold stairway outside his fifth floor walk-up), it should belong to you for those precious hours or minutes you steal for yourself. That means no visitors allowed. No children, no spouses, no friends, no lovers, and (in the case of the coffee shop), most crucially, no Internet.

In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf deals specifically with the struggles women writers face in finding the privacy and independence necessary for creation. Those who have set out on the very difficult yet incredibly rewarding path of professional writing understand, that, regardless of sex, it is essential that the writer have space and time set aside for doing the hard work of putting words on the page. Let’s return to time for a moment. I challenge you to conduct an experiment. For one week, try writing at different times of day – upon waking, in mid-morning, in early afternoon, during the evening hours, and at night when it’s dark and the rest of the world is asleep. Take note of when you do your best work, when you feel most alert and in tune to the muse, and try as hard as you can to keep those hours sacred to writing. In an ideal world, you would be able to write whenever and wherever you wanted, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Only you know when you are free from work responsibilities and other obligations. Your schedule, like your writing space, is your own, and it might change from day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month. What’s important is that you make your writing a priority. No one can do that for you. If you’ve made the commitment to yourself and your art, part of that commitment is carving out the space and time your art requires. Right on? Write on!