Recently, I saw a fellow author’s Facebook post with pics showing the home remodel she and her husband are doing that includes a beautiful writing space looking out at the landscape of their mountain surroundings. Within the space, they’ve included a fireplace and more elements to nurture her writing world.

I was immediately envious of what she is creating, momentarily contemplating whether not having a dedicated writing room is part of the reason I’m currently not writing. Yes, I actually went there!

The Right Space

So where is my writing space? I wondered. Why am I having such a difficult time finding just the right spot for writing my second book?

I thought of Elizabeth Gilbert who is currently writing her next book in the cubby of a room she had built to fit perfectly around her beloved desk that has traveled with her from home to home over many decades. Thinking of her made me consider that it might not have anything to do with the need for a large room and what it contains.

Looking around my home, I pondered further. Which room allows me to feel cocooned away? Which comfy chair is the right one to sit in as I continue to write my first draft in longhand? And what desk or table would be best to sit at as I enter my handwritten words into my computer? What can I create with what I have?

These musings led me to move around furniture in the sitting room next to our bedroom. I started with repositioning a comfy chair from a corner of the room to a spot diagonal to the room’s bookcase. Next, I moved my mother’s teenage desk from the wall near the bookcase to a place in front of a window that looks to the south and west toward the Rocky Mountains. Lifting a shade on the eastern facing window allowed the morning’s sunrays to stream in and light up the room horizontally.

As I looked at the room once I’d made these few adjustments, it felt twice as big and lighter and brighter than at any time in the past eighteen years.

Different Places for Different Times

One writer I work with has found that where she had been writing her memoir did not work for her as she began writing a second book. For that book, which is less personal narrative and more process focused, she’s found that she needs to write in a room in her house that was created and set up long ago. With red-painted walls and ceiling and a cozy couch, she’s been able to work on her second book almost every Saturday for long stretches of time.

Previously, while she was working on her memoir, she never considered using that room. Instead, she needed an inviting chair positioned by a window that looks out at trees in her yard. At first, she didn’t understand why she needed two different environments, but in talking about what’s been happening, the reasons became clear: Starting her memoir, which includes painfully traumatic stories, required “softer,” more meditative support, while her personal growth book needs vibrant energy that strengthens her as she shares her experience, knowledge, and wisdom with younger generations of women.

She’s recently decided to return to her memoir, realizing she needs to finish it first. And since she’s already written about some of the most difficult parts of her personal story, she is considering whether she’ll use that vibrant red space to complete her memoir.

Her experience illuminates how what we may need at one point in our writing process could require completely different support further down the road. Even a different writing project may require different surroundings from where we wrote in the past. I’m most definitely experiencing the need for “different” as I write my second memoir.

Do We Need Complete Quiet or Background Buzz?

Sound levels can be a consideration for some of us as we consider the place where we write. Some writers require the quiet of a library study room, and still others thrive on the background noise of a local coffeehouse. I’ve found that sitting in a local park with the sound of running water from a stream or fountain is the perfect level of sound for me. And being in nature, away from others, allows me to feel whatever emotions may come up as I write.

Making Space

Making space for our writing includes much more than where we write. Along with making time to write, it can also signify consideration of our supplies, tools, and the use of ritual.

 Another writer I know writes on a separate computer from the one she uses for her day-to-day business. Still others, including myself, create ritual around writing time, saging and lighting candles before beginning, and setting out supportive pieces from nature or other personally significant items to offer support as we write.

Author Suleika Jaouad burns palo santo before and after her time devoted to creative endeavors. As I write my second memoir, which includes stories about my childhood and my children, I’ve set out photos of us in full view along with other supportive pieces.

What Do YOU Need?

As you consider the ways in which you create space for your writing, I invite you to consider the following questions:

  • Where do I feel most comfortable writing?
  • What do I need to have around me to feel supported and protected? To feel inspired and motivated? To feel brave and courageous?
  • What equipment, supplies, and other personal items help me enter the writing realm?
  • What rituals will help me step out of present time and enter the necessary dimension to bring forth my story?

From my perspective, our writing environment is as essential to our writing as is the time we make for it. 

As for where I am in this moment, although I haven’t yet discovered why I am not writing in my new environment, I am certain that eventually I will either begin to use that room to write or discover a more supportive place. And whether my inability to work on my story is about where I write or relates to something else—like resistance to touch what is painful—I’ll eventually figure that out. As long as my commitment to write doesn’t evaporate completely, I’ll find my path forward. I’m certain of that! And I’m certain you’ll find your way too!