What makes a writing space?

Back in the day when I first started out as a writer, my writing desk was a table in the corner of my living room. I lived alone and so it was fine for me to take over the table and leave it covered in papers and my laptop.

Then when I started commuting I would get home from work too late to be able to concentrate and so my writing space changed.

No, your eyes are not deceiving you – that was my writing space (most days) on the left by the window. I did most of my work squashed into the corner seat of a commuter train usually with someone’s elbow digging into my ribs. It wasn’t comfortable but as I always did my first drafts by hand, it was incredibly convenient.

My writing desk
My writing space!

I had a dedicated period of about 40 minutes every morning in which to make an assault on my weekly word count. This was ideal because it meant that the writing work was done before the rest of the day got in the way. Things are a bit different now and I’m back to working on a table, mostly because the last year or two have been spent on editing, and there’s no way I could carry around my whole novel and get anything useful done on the train.

Some people say they need to be at a desk, with their favourite mug and using ‘the right pen’, but in fact you don’t even need a dedicated writing space to be able to write. It would be nice if we all had a table, a chair and a door you can close on the world but that’s not always possible. Instead you may need to carve out a space for yourself. That could mean taking over the dining table for an hour or so a day, or taking yourself off to a café to get away from distractions. Or, like me, you might be balancing your notebook on your lap as the train rocks backwards and forwards and makes a mess of your handwriting.

But that doesn’t matter; what does matter is that you’re doing it. You’re not waiting for ‘the perfect conditions’ or for the muse to strike, you’re just getting the words down. That’s what makes you a writer and makes that little area into a writing space. So elbows out and create that space.

What does your writing space look like? Do you have a table and chair or are you hiding in a broom cupboard? Let me know.

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