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Why It's Ok Not To Have A Writing Environment

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Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:39 pm
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Jasmine Hart says...

Different people work in different ways. If I sit down at my desk, make myself stay put for an hour, and try to write a poem, I probably will not write one. If I start handwriting a story in my journal, eight out of ten times, I will not finish it. I can write happily in my room, on the bus, in front of the tv, on the bathroom floor, in the park...I've even been known to write in a wardrobe/dressing room. This is fine.

Because writing is often very solitary, it can feel like you're doing everything wrong, like you should be locked in a study for five hours a day with a typewriter and a candle and no heating, or like you should be in a cafe with your laptop and a cup of coffee every two hours until you get chased out of there. It's not wrong. It's also not wrong if you find that these methods work for you.

Writing can be uncomfortable-it pulls you into a kind of trance-like state. If someone starts talking to me when I'm absorbed in a piece, I'm likely to snap at them, or else rudely wave my hand without looking away from the screen or my notebook, ushering them silently out of the room. No, this is not nice or polite. But I like to think it's more the transition stage than any rudeness on my part-when you're absorbed in writing, it can take a minute for you to get back to the real world-it's very, very difficult to simultaneously straddle two worlds.

Because of this, you should make yourself as comfortable as possible while writing. However, to do this, you must acknowledge that you have your own definition of "comfortable". Comfortable may be;

-On a chair, in your bed, on the floor, on some form of transport etc.
-With/without food and/or drink.
-In a brightly lit/dim room.
-With background noise/music or in total silence.
-Handwriting or typing.

It may also vary depending on what you're trying to write. For example, I usually type fiction and hand-write poetry, either because this actually works better for me, or because I'm superstitious-I'm not sure which, but I need to adhere to this to make myself write happily/finish what I'm working on.

It's easy to feel like you're not a proper writer when you hear about writers with time plans and specific writing spaces, if you don't write in cafes like J.K.Rowling, for instance. But here's the secret-proper writers write. It doesn't matter where. The introduction to the Penguin edition (written by Andrea Ashworth) of Wide Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys states that Rhys wrote in bed, in pencil, to avoid ink stains. There is no right or wrong here. As long as you're writing something, it doesn't matter how you're going about it or where. And once you've found the way that produces the best results, that is the right way for you personally.

It also may change over time. If you find yourself getting blocked, change your routine, and thus change your writing.
"Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise."
-Maya Angelou

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Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:14 pm
borntobeawriter says...

I totally agree here. I have my own desk with all my writing material but I do my best writing away from it all. Actually, I write better at work when I have only the distraction of my customers instead of my household distractions. Because, here, at home, there's ALWAYS something to do: cooking, cleaning, housework, cats, sleep!

Anyway, great piece! I love the actual IDEA of having a writing space to myself but let's face it - I'd never actually use it! ;)


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Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:11 pm
Stori says...


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Sat Apr 09, 2011 12:05 am
BrooklynWriter says...

That is so true. It's also really reassuring to know that I'm not doing something wrong when I pull out my notebook on the bus/in a resturaunt/ect. or when I don't plan out when I will write this or that.

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