I moved into a new apartment and created a new writing space. It’s up stairs, away from the rest of the apartment. A large writing surface area (a drafting table) gives me space to work, plants on both sides give me vitality, and a window facing a pitched roof offers up natural light but little distraction.
I’m sure, as writers, you have read about work spaces and their importance. Everyone has a different idea of how a workspace should look and function, whether it be Zen minimalism or creative chaos. Organization, pictures of your heroes, and a laptop doesn’t hurt, but I think the most important element of a writing space is for it to be removed from anything that can interrupt the craft.
Getting to that productive creative place is a house of cards that can collapse if interrupted. Your writing space is not for movies or video games or sports updates. It’s not for socializing with friends or bonding with your kids. If you want to write, you have to respect the craft, and unless you are collaborating on a project, the craft needs isolation. Writing is a meditative art that not only takes concentration, but also a liberal amount of time and space.
Not everyone can create that space at home, not when spouses or kids or roommates hound you for attention.
If you don’t have a space at home, seek alternatives in public spaces. The public library can work, or college campuses, or your office day job, after hours. A coffee shop, despite the activity can be a great place, because it can create a sort of white noise that is a lot like isolation. The main thing: there can’t be people clamoring for your attention.
Writing takes all of you.
Warning: This isolation can take its toll.
A key to making this isolation work in your life is to write when you write and be fully present when you are with the ones you love. In an ideal writing space, the needs of your loved ones don’t exist; you are working, and you’ll be fired if you don’t focus on your work. But when you emerge from your writing fugue state, recharge your batteries with the people you care about by leaving your writing behind. If you offer your full attention to the people who matter, not only will you foster a valuable social life, you’ll also give your subconscious time to solve writing problems that have been vexing you. With the proper balance, you’ll not only end up with an awesome novel, you’ll end up with an awesome life.