Ten In Ten: Making Space
Writing might seem abstract, but more often than not I think of it in terms of space. This works on a physical level—Where do I write? Is there room for it on my desk?—and on a metaphorical level as well. Making space for my writing is one of the great challenges of my life, and one of the biggest indicators of its success.
When I first started freelancing, writing felt like an interim afterthought. It took up the space that was available during my workaday life, filling in the cracks. I quit the day job eventually, and the challenge became a space war between creative and professional writing. Then I started my marketing and brand strategy business, and in the early days of our partnership, my business partner and I had some long and intense conversations about where my writing fit in to the mix. My business partner is infinitely patient with me and knew/knows that writing is one of my top priorities in life despite my business goals, and we pledged early on to figure out how to make room for writing in our business. This was put to the test when I got my book deal in 2009. First I had to write the book, then make room for promotion, small-scale touring, etc. Just knowing there is room for writing in my job makes it easier to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge. For example, the last three months have been extremely intense on the work front, and writing has to be turned into a priority to combat those sweeping pressures.
Then there’s the emotional space I need for writing. I have noticed that emotional strain and family issues occupy the same space my brain partitions for creative endeavors. Similarly, when I’m chewing on a bigger project (as I am now), writing seems to cordon off about 1/4 of my mental space. It’s absolutely necessary that my brain have that room to turn the same thoughts over and over and over again. This is hardly convenient, but I’ve learned it’s the way things have to be.
My actual writing space embodies a lot of those tensions. I write at a dinette set from the ’60s that has been reclaimed and repurposed as my workspace. It sits in the kitchen and is basically in the middle of my life space. I bounce between this desk, a couch at the mall, and various coffee shops and libraries when I’m writing, and the takeaway for me is that writing still sits somewhere between my professional and personal life. Hopefully I’ll continue to give it the space it needs to flourish.
What about you? What kind of space does writing take up in your life, and how do you make room for writing?