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Writing Spaces

May 27, 2009

To acknowledge Dale, Jodi and Paul; – I too had other plans for this weeks post; however it would seem I have been dragged into the discussion on the space in which a writer creates (not that it takes much persuasion)

With Mercury retrogrades main influence dwindling, you are well and truly overdue to re visit your writing space, the clutter you’ve allowed to assemble itself, the files, to do lists and tasks and to make room, emotionally, mentally and physically and make way for the influx of ideas and storylines which will be gifted to you in the upcoming months.

This is especially important as the count down for NaNoWriMo ; has begun to faintly tick for many of us. If you hold onto first drafts, never editing or publishing them, sending them for review, feedback or enter competitions with them; then it is a clear message to the universe – and to your unconscious self, your muse and to others; that you don’t value what you have been given and what you have already.

If this is the case, its unlikely you will be gifted with new characters, new settings or plots; making your writing schedule – especially for NaNo pretty tiring..

Annie In Fiji

Both Paul and Jodi talked about clearing your headspace, relaxing and “filling up” again with your flow in creativity. Certainly time spent alone in either far flung, remote or beautiful natural surroundings provide an abundance of creative energy for an artist of any type. Like Dale, I too, am unsure about how much writing or creativity can be achieved in these spaces as I would spend the time hiking or sitting by waterfalls. On a recent trip to Fiji, I managed to spend the better part of two weeks in a hammock with a notebook and pen stuck on my chest and little writing actually been done. I was, however, on fire when I arrived back – so perhaps this is the key – at least for me.

The places we find ourselves writing

Although the romance of sitting and writing in a café holds some sway with my dramatic persuasions, it is the practicality of it that convinces me, especially as a mother of small children.  I have several semi permanent spaces outside the home where I find I get a great deal of writing completed.

Once a week, while my daughter dances around the studio in her class, I sit  with my laptop on a park bench outside, half watching my son on the swings and editing whatever article or story I have on at the moment.

While both my kids go through their hour long gym lesson, I position myself in the less than graceful café above , where I can see the activities from the glass partician, order instant tea.(ikkk) and focus on whatever story or article is brewing on my laptop.

There is a childrens indoor playroom and café I frequent regularly, where I plug my laptops powercord in and can write for up to 4 hours of mostly uninterrupted time while my children explore the roundabout, bouncy castle and slides. The coffee is at least ground and the first one is free. One of these places even has a separate room for me at times, so that I might escape the shrill screams of the multitudes of small ones slipping down the slide.

I will also admit to going to the golden arches as it offers a playground and decent coffee.

Less occasionally – when we are without kids, and what we like to deem our serviced offices, my writing partner – Jodi and I will claim a huge table on the top floor of a swanky inner city café – also with power available. Gorgeous surroundings, fabulous food and drinks, though this comes at a price, but make both of us feel like we are accomplished authors. There was a time Jodi brought in her home bakes goodies to the chef and we were on first name basis with the wait staff.  However with the inevitable turn over and change in hands of ownership, things have changed a little and we go there less often.

With no access to the internet, I find these spaces valuable for editing and rewriting jobs I have. I have written some of my most disturbing and dark pieces amongst the humdrum of happy squeals in a playground.  As a mum, I need to capture the productive moments where I can and attempt to believe that I am providing an enjoyable experience for my kids which balances me doing work.

However, my most creative space is on the kitchen table between the hours of 10.30 pm and 2 am. The house is quiet – all are in bed. I set my laptop on the  huge expanse of my wooden table and have clean, cleared benchtops around me. I have a fully functioning and attractive office in a separate room in my house; but prefer the warmth and energy of my kitchen to write.

Paul spoke of his addiction to the internet; making me smile throughout the piece, nodding in agreement to certain things. My addiction to the internet extends of its use to answer any question I may have – and all is research of some kind for my writing – perhaps sometimes it may not be completely relevant to what I am writing RIGHT now – but its all filed away for a specific time in which to use it. (How many stairs in the leaning tower of pisa?  What year were automatic reloading shotguns invented? I need a map of a small town in Spain with routes in and out of town. Whats the thingy called on a spaceship that does…..)

Goddess bless Google.  I cannot imagine what it must have been like to write a book, an article or short stories without the www . When in the writing zone, I close down my email program as I have to admit I will check it and answer questions or compose lengthy messages if I am less structured with my time. As far as other distractions with the internet – I limit my visits to Twitter, stumble upon and facebook to post links to both my and friends writing sites; but have to admit I generally waste most of Friday night checking status and following interesting links.

The key to reigniting your creative flame may be to sit on a beach alone, or treasure your guilty pleasures of writing in a swanky café with a fountain pen and notepad. The point is, is that we all have different ways to tap into our creativity and no matter where you write, its important that the space fits your energetic needs. Now is the perfect time to reshape your regular spaces, or to explore new ones.  Clutter, be it emotional, physical or mental can only slow your creative progress. The sucking addiction to the internet, to busyness or to guilt also stands in the way of you achieving your creative genius.

Where do you write?  What does it say about you and the value you place upon your craft?  Wheres the most unusual place you’ve written?

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Annie Evett is thankful that she is a techno-feeb, unable to drive even a mobile phone successfully. Otherwise I am sure I would get excited with the crack-berry craze sweeping Gen Y and would need to get one of everything in order to tweet, stumble and FB people she has never met. Catch her growing amount of websites and blogs here
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  1. May 27, 2009 7:14 am

    I too spend most of my time now at the end of the kitchen table in a quasi-like creative arrangement since my partner subsumed my desk and window overlooking the street to do his job searching from. Perhaps now he’s got a job he can ship all his crap back to the office and give me back my window. I might even finish making my creative space – hang those patient curtains (it’s been 18months and all they need is a hem) and pull out the fairy lights I bought to make it all enchanting there.

    What the unexpected eviction from my space taught me is the most important space is the one that lies in your head and in your imagination. While I am excited about going to the Bunya Moutains for a few days soon (who says you don’t manifest what you want) with my family, I have realised as long as I stay filled up, arrive with at the very least pen and paper, stay on good first name bases with my characters and stay true to my vocation as a writer – location really doesn’t matter.

    Like you’ve I’ve worked at Lollyland (I actually have a photo of it somewhere – lap top set up and kids screaming around in the background), at your kitchen table (which Annie is probably my 2nd favourite place to write!) but my most obscure writing foray was sitting in the deserted shopping centre one Sunday afternoon during NaNo in 2007. The shops had all closed up and I was burning down the 2000 word count, racing against the clock – worried I’d somehow be locked in the shopping centre for the night.

    I think what I was trying to get at in my article – and I was considering this when we first floated the idea of a second version of Reclaim – sometimes you just need to go away, remove yourself from all distractions so you can focus on writing. But few of us can be Patrick White’s locking ourselves away from the world for six months at a time and living normally for the other six months.

    I love where this stream of thought has taken us all this week …

  2. May 27, 2009 7:23 am

    I write most of my fiction in my study, it’s set up nice and there’s no distractions, except for the Internet of course.

    I also do a heap of writing, blog posts and such at work, as I don’t get distracted because writing is the distraction.

    I agree that the setting matters but in the end, if I’m in ‘the zone’ I ignore it all and just go for it.

  3. May 27, 2009 7:58 am

    The most exotic place I’ve written is in an apartment in Rome while visiting there for a month. The second one is on a sailboat anchored in Canada’s Lake Huron’s North Channel.

    But, as a rule, I’m writing in my office at my computer, looking out at Ottawa’s Experimental Farm Grounds when I’m doing brain searches.

  4. May 27, 2009 10:01 pm

    how about at work, with crackberry in hand, with a furrowed brow like you are solving some problem?

  5. May 30, 2009 8:21 am

    I thought I’d post a photo of Lollypops.. Here is my last visit – from this week.

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