Vision: A Resource for Writers

Welcome to the archives.  Current Issue is here


A Room with a View

By Betty Chen
Copyright 2008 by Elizabeth Chayne, All Rights Reserved

Like the question of what pen to use for writing, a place to sit down and write is a choice that only the writers themselves can make.

Some are content with a corner of the kitchen table, while others need a whole room to house their creativity. Still others find that their best writing location is away from home -- a tree house, a library, or a cafe.

Every writer knows the pleasure of working in the "right" spot. The soft tapping of the laptop keys, or the whispering of pen gliding over paper as you drift off to far-off places, brings a satisfying peace, even in the noisiest environments.

Every writer knows too the annoyance of having notes and important information messed up by those inconsiderate non-writers who share their writing space. For some writers, a missing pen can be torture.

If you're one of those writers making do with a corner that other members of your household may invade after (or perhaps during) your working time, consider purchasing a file folder or large box to keep your various papers in one place, where people can't get at them or accidentally throw them away. Store the box/folder somewhere easy to access, but out of reach for younger children or pets.

If you're a writer with a writing room or study that's yours and yours alone, you're extremely lucky, since you can do anything you like with that space: put up pasteboards, scatter your papers across the floor, or decorate with muse-simulating posters and paintings. If you have special guidelines you'd like other people to follow, you can paste a list to the door ("Don't disturb before four-thirty," "Knock before entering") and when you're done for the day, you can close, and perhaps lock, the door and ignore the mess.

If your desk or computer happens to be placed in a much accessed area, such as a living room, it might be a good idea to buy something in the nature of a tablecloth to throw over your work when you're not using it. This efficiently hides all signs of clutter, and also acts as a warning to potential snoopers: Don't touch!

Is your tale being typed out on a computer others use frequently? If so, back up! Having once lost an important piece to a crash, I now back up obsessively: emailing every day's work to myself, burning finished CDs, as well as saving them to my personal USB drive. Be prepared for computer crashes, unless you think retyping thousands of words from memory is fun.

If you work away from home, at cafes or other such places, consider getting a briefcase, with separate compartments for your drafts and writing tools. Carry postcards and printouts of images (photos, famous paintings, and so forth) that inspire you.

Many writers have an ideal dream writing area. Some wish for a house with a view of the sea, or overlooking a waterfall... if only they had the money. Often, you can fulfill your dream by renting, say, a small cabin in the woods for a couple weeks a year. Other, bigger, fantasies may have to remain just fantasies!

My own dream writing location would be an apartment, somewhere on the outskirts of a big city. I picture myself seated at a desk placed by a window. The lamp is on, (since I prefer to write at night) and my room is dark except for the small circle of light surrounding the desk. All is quiet, save for the scribbling of my pencil, and the pop music I occasionally like to play.

Yes, I tell myself, that -- that is the place where I'm writing for.