A long time ago, I believed that I needed a room of my own--a place to think and create, with time and silence blowing around me in wispy sheets. But I quickly learned that I could write anywhere, and under many conditions. I took yellow legal pads to football/baseball/basketball practice. I was the mother in the car, the mother with pencils stuck in her crazy hair. I also wrote in McDonald's and in coffee shops.
In a way, it's like socializing a dog? You know? You take the dog to Kroger and let people pet the dog. You take the dog on errands. And hopefully, the dog will not bite your guests. Or each other (if you have more than one dog.)
A writer isn't like a dog (although I know people who disagree). But it's wise to "socialize" yourself. In the case of the writer, socialization means learning how to write under all kinds of conditions.
That said, most writers write at home. Writing can be messy. It's just easier if you have a spot for your junk. A place to pile your papers, your Thesaurus, your totems, your ink pens.
I write in the corner of a room
..and when I sit down, my mind shifts gears. Because I have come to associate this place with writing. I don't do another blessed thing in this corner. It's just for writing.
While a "space" is important for practical reasons, it's more important to know your interior landscape. When you are working on a blog entry, do you need noise or quiet? How do you react to interruptions? In order to write creatively, what is your bottom line? What disrupts your creative bubble?
My ideal bottom line looks like this:
- An empty room
- A fresh pot of coffee
- No TV
- No phone calls
- No major conversations going on (in the same room)
- No one sneaking up behind me and shaking me--"Hey, did you wash my underwear? Well, I'm out!"
I can work without coffee. I can work if others are watching TV. I can even work if people startle me. But I can't be around talkative people.
Or ringing phones
It's important to define your real bottom line--and shrink it to its lowest denominator. Then try to make it happen. This isn't a piece of cake. Sometimes your bottom line is perfect for you but terrible for others. One time my mother sent the police to my house because I didn't answer the phone. (If you want a mental image of my mother, think of the mother in Terms of Endearment.)
But I digress. When it comes to blocks and bottom lines, you just have to experiment. I've read that Agatha Christie ate apples in the bathtub. The poet, Schiller, kept rotten apples in his desk drawer.
Me, I can't unplug the phone. So I use an IPod to create invisible doors.
I have also used "Playlist" (http://www.playlist.com/, a free music feature for bloggers), too. I just added earphones, and within minutes, I was in my own, little space.
After you've defined your bottom line, you need to think about "must have" tools.
If you are serious about blogging, then you need some type of notebook--a place where you can play with words and ideas.
In the old days, paper was cheap. But the cost is rising all the time. Each time I change the cartridge on my printer, I have to get all Zen and breathe. An excellent, zero cost alternative is to create a private blog--just for your writing.
My I.C. tells me that you are prolly thinking, What??!!She wants me to create another blog? what? Is she out of her head?
Crazy? Mmmhum, yes. But it's a lot cheaper than buying reams of paper and pens. Not only that, it's a lot less messy. You don't have to find a place to stash your papers.
But what about photos and prompts?
Instead of stuffing a 3-ring binder with ideas, you stuff things into the Workshop Blog. Inspirational photos, ideas, notes--all go into the blog.
And you can use the italics and the color feature to your best advantage. (I'll talk about this in detail another time...but let me just say that while italics and colors are distracting for Readers, these "tools" are indispensable for drafts--and for dealing with the Inner Critic).
Whether you create blog-space or not, you still must learn to deal with your inner critic--it's not the bugaboo that I painted it to be. Not really. In fact, it is a necessary part of the creative process....but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Part II, "Taming the Inner Critic," will continue tomorrow.