Finding Your Writing Space

Now that I’m back in Boston I’m finally able to make use of a membership I’ve been given to the excellent Writer’s Room of Boston. It’s an office space designed particularly for writers to work in peace; there are similar writing spaces and other shared office spaces all over New York and Brooklyn, and they’re important for artists, particularly those who live with others or who are parents or spouses and need, as Virginia Woolf says, a room of one’s own.

I’ve only just begun to start using the space, but already I’ve gotten some good hours (and pages) of work on my novel done there. It’s gotten me thinking about the importance of finding your writing space, and if necessary, carving one out of what space you already have. It’s part of a mental definition of a creative space that is essential for being in a creative mindset. So here are a few ways to define that creative space for yourself, so that you’ll be ready to write simply by stepping into it.

Define a room, corner, or nook for writing.

First take a walk through your house or apartment and look for a likely spot. Do you have a spare room, an under-used corner, a bay window? It doesn’t take much space to be a writer, thankfully, unlike other artists (try fitting a piano or an art studio into an unused corner of your average New York apartment). Once you’ve chosen your space, respect it and take it seriously. This is your Writing Space. It is the temple of creativity. Internet memes and other sources of distraction have no place here.

After the jump: how to set up your writing space.

Set up your space the way you’ve always wanted.

There’s no reason to do this halfway — you should design your writing space for maximum creativity, and be honest with yourself about what that means. It might not mean making it the most comfortable place in the house, for example, if you’re prone to naps on a soft couch. Make sure you’ve got computer space and a shelf for a few books, as well as bare desk space — I like to have a little extra desk space for doodling or notebook-writing. I recommend setting up a desk in a way that enables you to look out a window and get a little inspiration from time to time that way.

Make sure your chair is comfortable but not too comfortable! Set up your space with everything you need — books, computer, paper and pens — and nothing you don’t — gadgets, knickknacks to fiddle with, etc.

Set aside time every day just for being in your writing space.

Now that your writing space has been set up to satisfaction, it’s time to take it seriously. Make a habit of coming to your writing space, sitting and looking out the window, flipping through books and thinking seriously about your writing. Even if you’re running low on creativity, go into your space and do your best for as long as you can. You’ll feel a little pleased with your efforts. And gradually, the space will come to be a source of creative energy. It’s amazing how context can help push our minds in the right direction. And assigning this special importance to your writing space will have another effect — it will assign value to the creative writing endeavor. If you’re doubtful about the value of your own writing, this will help you define just how important it really is to you (and potentially to doubting relatives or friends). So in conclusion, take yourself seriously by taking your writing seriously.


  1. Guy Lebeda says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your point about honoring the space where you write. One trick I have used in the past is to post favorite quotes in my writing space. Here’s an example from Joseph Conrad:

    “I don’t like work… but I like what is in work – the chance to find yourself.”

  2. mary brady says:

    I am disabled due to a series of blown gaskets in my neck. I’ve been fused from C4 to C7 & while this ‘stabilized’ me (I won’t sneeze & sever my spinal cord!), it has left me in chronic pain. I cannot sit up or stand longer than 15 minutes.

    Consequently, I’ve defaulted to doing everything on my bed, bolstered at a 135 degree angle against my dogs. I do my reading, writing, drawing, painting…oh, & sleeping, too, on my huge bed.

    EVERYONE says this is wrong, wrong, wrong. Don’t I know it. I’d LOVE to really have the private place described in the blog above. To that end, I am doing a little each day to recover the front room of my house from the ravages of my ‘hoarder/slob’ mate. At least I’ve got him to cease bringing any new junk into the house…

    When you always hurt, it is harder than hell to do much more than ‘tidy.’ But this room-overhaul is important to me.

    I really appreciated reading today’s description of a ‘creative space’ as well as being reminded of the phrase, “a room of one’s own.” That room WILL be mine and mine alone, bu gosh!

    Thanks again for the needed pep talk, MaryB

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