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If you have been following my blog you’ll know that for the last few years I have been working out of a one-room shared space. And shared with a feisty 10-year old boy who doesn’t get the concept of privacy at all.
But all that’s changing very soon, in less than 30 days we’ll be transferring to the city and I’ll be setting up a professional writing space complete with a door. I cannot over stress the importance of having a dedicated home office. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned.
Unbroken periods of solitude is conducive to good writing. Being able to write without interruption gives you the space to concentrate, or let go and explore into a character. You need intense concentration to write your book outline, or research a client’s copywriting project, or nut out how a character will react to the disappearance of the kittens.
As you can imagine, I get so irritable when I’m in the middle of writing for a client (on billable time) and the door bursts open to an exuberant Jerry telling me school has ended two hours early. There’s things you can’t control and things you can.
When working from home, private work time requires more than a door and a lock, it requires a commitment from everyone in the house to respect your writing time. And if not everyone in the house is old enough to understand what that is, you’ll need to make some arrangements. So yeah, I hire a babysitter to take care of Jerry when I’m working on client projects with deadlines.
Because writing is such creative work, constant interruptions deflate the writing process and your imagination becomes awfully shy. When you have a dedicated writing space and you start to trust it, your imagination will show up.
Imagination is not just the tool we use to help our character find the kittens, it also manages client projects and edits a meta description down the the optimal character count. You can access your imagination through meditation or wandering nature but you’ll find with a solid writing practice, that imagination will start to spill out onto the page without you having to pace the room for ideas.
And it’s the writing space that inspires the habit.
A dedicated writing space in your home enables you to build a consistent writing practice. Whether you’re a novelist or a copywriter, the consistency of writing everyday will quickly improve your writing. The words come faster, and you finish client projects in less time.
For years I dreamed of being a writer or an artist thinking how exciting that would be. I romanced the mistaken notion that great writers and artists were super beings with some sort of unearthly creative talent. Out of reach to the rest of us.
So naturally I was attracted by the bohemian life where you made no plans and responded to whatever stimulus was in front of you. Isn’t that what real artists and writers did? But it led me to be completely unproductive and ultimately depressed. I lamented that I had writer’s block and no talent before realising I just didn’t have enough conviction in myself as a writer to just get on with the writing.
The daily slog becomes so much easier when everything is in it’s place ready for your writing hands and ideas to wake up each morning and get to work. Setting yourself strict work times rather than waiting for the inspiration is how Mozart finished his symphonies and James Patterson became the number 1 selling author in the world.
“I didn’t have to be in the mood. I didn’t have to take my emotional temperature to see if inspiration was pending. I simply wrote.”
Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way)
The other thing I love about having a dedicated office and writing space is a place to put my arty stuff. Decoupaching famous artworks onto the wall above my desk (or makeshift plastic table actually), having a dream catcher attached to a hanging TV cable discarded by the last tenant, plus piling books and coloured pencils against the wall is my idea of a real home office.
Not only do they inspire my creativity but they make me feel like a real writer. It’s a crazy business isn’t it? But believing you’re a writer is what gets you writing and once you get writing you become a real writer. And the more you write the better you write. But you have to start believing you’re a writer to write those first horrible sentences and eventually get to the good ones.
Believing you’re a real writer might inspire yourself into a writing space and home office. A place to find quiet time, let your imagination roam, build real writing habits, and surround yourself in the things that reinforce the belief. A circle of inspiration uncontained by logic.
© 2018 Melinda J. Irvine