By Kate Gould
I’m finding it difficult to establish any sort of writing routine. I don’t have a specific room in my house just to sit and write. I want to be able to just sit somewhere quiet, interrupted only by bird song, for example – not my three teenaged kids and husband who don’t seem to take my writing seriously and still expect me to do all the housework etc. I feel like I need somewhere all of my own before I can really get inspired and creative.
From your letter, you’ve got a couple of issues here. One is the attitude of your kids and husband to your writing and the other is your own attitude towards it.
I don’t know enough about your familial relationships to know the full situation, but from your description and my experience with other creatives – whether they are painters, writers, musicians – yours is a common problem. If you want them to take your writing seriously and to give you time to do it, you’re going to need to be strict with them. Have you told them that you take your writing seriously and want them to do the same? You need to make that clear if this is something you plan on investing a great deal of time and effort in, either for your own pleasure or with the intention of obtaining publication. It wouldn’t hurt to suggest they help with the domestics, while you’re at it.
The other issue is your attitude towards writing and your “need for somewhere all of my own before I can really get inspired and creative”. There are, broadly, two approaches to the need for a setting in which to write. One is of the Virginia Woolf room of one’s own ilk: an approach that requires a place of quiet and solitude in which to pen one’s thoughts. The other is most eloquently expressed by Charles Bukowski in his poem, Air and light and time and space. It’s a magnificent piece of writing, but also a candid exposition of any creative process. Bukowski’s attitude is that, if you’re going to create, you’ll do it no matter what the circumstances – it won’t be dependent upon a having precisely the right conditions.
It’s a question of deciding which approach suits you best and leads to the greatest productivity. If you need solitude in order to write, then you need to make the necessary changes in your home life to ensure that you have it. I’m slightly concerned by your belief that you need to have this seclusion before you can “get inspired”. Have you tried seeking inspiration on the other side of the closed door? It is perfectly understandable that putting the words down on paper might require seclusion in order to concentrate, but don’t limit yourself to the isolation of four walls when looking for inspiration. You don’t need a room in order to generate ideas. Your writing is likely to gather more colour and the writing process be more enjoyable if you look to sources outside of your own head and the four walls you seem to think are essential to creation.
On that subject, there are a couple of pieces in the Blank Page, What To Write About and Seeking Inspiration, that you might find useful.
Best of luck with your writing.
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About the author:
Kate Gould has worked as an editor, book critic, columnist, slush pile reader, writing competition judge, hotel critic, magazine editor, English teacher, and research assistant. She is now Chief Editorial Consultant at The Fine Line and author of The Pocketbook of Prompts: 52 Ideas for a Story and The Perfect Word: The Fine Line Writing Course. Her book on flashers, Exposing Phallacy, is to be published by Zero Books.
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