Writing Space…Ideal vs. Reality

This is a re-post from my guest hosting job over at Pimp My Novel last year.

When I was young, I pictured the location where authors/writers did their work. It was always some variation of the following:

The recently showered and fully dressed author/writer pads down a long hallway and opens a door to their own private writing space. Clutching a mug of tea/coffee, the writer sits down at a comfortable chair located behind a highly polished, very organized mahogany desk. There is a wall of books on one wall and a window with a completely astounding view of a lake, a mountain, or a field of wildflowers.

Selecting a full pen from a drawer, the author/writer thinks for a long moment and at the precise moment inspiration hits, leans over a clean piece of paper and the words begin to flow.

Then I became a writer. Here is the reality.

On a typical day, when I’ve begged and pleaded for time to write, I can count on a minimum of five interruptions per hour. Last time I reserved a block of time to write I kept track of said interruptions for my own amusement.

6:30 AM Hubby wants to know where the flea powder is—dog is scratching
6:41 AM Hubby comes in room for some clothes
7:01 AM Hubby brings me breakfast (OK—this one is great! Love him!)
7:09 AM Powdered, yet still scratching, dog is let into the room
7:25 AM Kids come in to see if I have any bacon left and can they have it
7:36 AM Boy twin comes in for a hug
7:42 AM Hubby needs toilet paper, where are extra rolls kept?
8:08 AM Girl twin needs me to fix her hair
8:25 AM Knock at window reveals family showing ripened tomatoes
8:26 AM Boy twin can’t find toy army men… do I know where they are?
8:50 AM Girl twin wants to weigh herself
9:01 AM Hubby needs jersey to watch upcoming football game
9:17 AM Hubby wants to know if he can pull bread from freezer

And so on.

So, that is a typical block of “writing time” for me. Now, let’s move on to the instruments for said writing.

My computer is ten years old, shuts off at will (usually when I haven’t saved in a while or I’m in the middle of a fantastic run of words), and is located in a peeling wood veneer cabinet that is shoved in the corner of my bedroom. My kids find everything in the cabinet fascinating and things disappear at will. (4-year-old twins find calculators, screen cleaners, coasters, my drafts, and note cards to be much fun to play with).

Sometimes I don’t use the computer. When inspiration strikes I use anything that is at hand. Some examples:

• Sticky notes (they paste so nicely to the computer monitor, don’t they?)
• Backs of envelopes
• Any kind of paper with a blank space on it anywhere
• You get the drift

As for writing utensils… our pens never have ink in them (my fault since I leave them clicked open all the time), so I’ve had to improvise at times:

• Crayons
• Lipstick
• Dry erase markers
• And my personal favorite—using the tip of an empty pen to gouge the words into the paper. Trust me, if you’ve got a great flow of words coming to you this will work!

It is during these times that I try to remember it all comes down to this: How you write doesn’t matter, as long as you’re writing!


11 thoughts on “Writing Space…Ideal vs. Reality

  1. Absolutely brilliant post!
    I agree with you, although some places and times are better for writing than others, it’s really about just doing it. I sometimes scribble notes in the middle of the night without bothering to turn on the light. They look funny in the morning.

  2. Even though I don’t have any children, I don’t have a writing space either, so you’re one up on me! I actually just wrote about this very thing yesterday!

    I once read that you shouldn’t do things in your bedroom because it makes it harder to sleep–your bedroom has to be used for sleeping only (I knew there was a reason for my bouts of insomnia! :D). I think the same thing goes for writing. Everyone at least needs a corner.

    I second the “gouge words into paper with non-working pen” emotion; I’ve been known to do that in my time.

    Great post!


  3. M. Howalt,

    Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I can totally indentify with the middle of the night scribbling of ideas, words, plots, etc…and then waking up in the morning and trying to decode my writing.

    I really appreciate you visiting my blog and hope you stop by again 🙂


  4. E.J.

    It hasn’t changed much since I wrote this post last year, but there’s one fantastic exception…I finally broke down and got a new computer. “Bessie” has been regulated to a box in the garage. The new computer makes my writing so much easier, I only wish I would have done it sooner.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Good to connect with other writers out there.


  5. 2blu,

    You’ve piqued my interest that you wrote about this topic yesterday. On my way over to your post now 🙂

    I love hearing that someone else gouges words into paper with dried up pens 🙂

    Thanks so much for visiting,


  6. This is the best post ever, because it is so true! I used to write in a corner of the bedroom, then I graduated to a corner of the unfinished upstairs and finally I got my own office. But that didn’t even matter so much as the constant interruptions from family. Loved them, but geez, didn’t they know I was writing? Now I’m interrupted by the need to take my pugs out. Or my own lack of focus at times–seems there are always demons that take us away from our writing. However, your post just proves what I always tell people–you can get a lot of writing done in less-than-perfect conditions. Thanks for re-running this one.

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