To be writers, we must write. The old a– in chair dictum is still true, though a lot of us now like standing desks. Despite the fact that most of us write into an electronic device, writing still takes place in real time and physical space.
When I turned my life upside down and shook it like an Etch-a-Sketch, I lost the writing spaces that I had so carefully crafted. I said good-bye to my Christine de Pizan desk at the school, my standing desk at my mom’s apartment, my bilateral workspace built from Elfa components in the tiny house. I also said good-bye to my routine, my writing circle that kept me on task, and my lovely drawer of colorful paperclips and post-it pads. Even the weeks in my calendar now begin on the wrong day.
I exchanged a host of distractions and time-swallowers for another set. It no longer takes me thirty minutes to run an errand in traffic, but it takes me that long to walk to the grocery store. People no longer phone me out of the blue to ask a question about their story or get my advice on local print shops. Now, I’m writing it all in an email. Now, I’m cooking (if you can call it that) for my mom instead of shipping her down to the dining room in The Home.
All this has me thinking about essentials. What does it really take to write? And I think this question is as individual, as intimate, as our inner personhoods. When we write, we go deep into our own psychologies, our own special longings and emotional baggages and inherited quirks. Some of us crave order. Some of us thrive in creative messiness. But along that spectrum, there are a thousand variations. I want to be able to get my desk orderly, but I love a messy bulletin board. I totally mistrust a narcissistic bulletin board where the notes, cartoons, and inspirational bookmarks are all lined up.
Some people want to curl up in a cozy chair with a pen and paper. Some of us have to have a long work space. I am one of these. I say it’s because of all my research books, but I think it also has to do with my inner need to see the big picture, to feel that I’m in control of the whole situation.
Then there’s time. The Italian is tempo, which in English speaks of rhythm and repetition and pace. I like that because that, too, is what we must have. Not only time to write but time that is predictable, that we can anticipate, and that, for goodness sake, returns again and again. Too many people get a flash of inspiration and write furiously for half a day and then not again for months.
We must be able to control time, at least to a certain extent. For that we have devised schedules, calendars, to-do lists. Which ones we like—which ones work—depends, once again, on our personalities and our core needs. Actually, all these time management systems are like diets. They all work if you use them consistently and for long enough. They don’t work when they don’t address our inner, psychological needs.
As writers, we have a host of options to approach both time and space. So since I’m in the throes of “rewriting” my writing routine, I thought it would be fun to have a call-in session where we explore various ways that writers have found to nest and to control time.
I hope this will be the forerunner of a series of these type calls on topics of interest to writers. This first one is free. Later, we will charge an affordable fee to raise money for the Village Writing School.
We are taking the first ten who sign up here. The date is Thursday November 2nd from Noon – 1pm CT. After you sign up, we will send you simple instructions to call in for free with either your phone or computer.
I’ll be throwing out a lot of options which you might not have considered but which might be just what you’re looking for. Cool writing spaces in tiny places. Time management at the level of the month or the minute. Many ways to carve writing out of both space and time.