For the past week, I keep hearing this voice in my head. It’s been whispering three terrifying words over and over again:
“You’re falling behind…” echo… echo… echo…
Yes, I have fallen behind. I still plan to finish the initial draft of the first Creed and Enid novel by the end of August, but it may require some extra work in order to deliver on time. That means I need to rebuild my creative brain, so, I’ve been coming to a new workspace: the library.
I’ve spoken about the importance of a good workspace before, but this past week really hit me with how little I was taking my own advice. At home I expected to have privacy and a respected work desk. Well, I never really had the privacy I was hoping for, and I lost my work desk to my husband. To bounce back from that, I tried to make due with a little lap desk on the bed and that worked for a little while, but I still had no privacy. So, after a month of realizing I wasn’t going to get anywhere with this set up, I decided to make a change.
This afternoon, I am here at the library, creating away. It is not at all my ideal workspace, but it does the job and that’s what matters. Where you work is extremely important in general, and that goes double for a writer.
Being creative is a lot like working out. Your mind is a muscle, after all. The more you practice it, the easier it is to practice. You need to keep at it consistently, even on weekends and vacations, or you’ll atrophy, and when you return to it after the break you’ll find it harder to pick back up at the same level. Finally, while you can be casually practicing anywhere, if you really want to master it, you need to find a good place with all the tools you need, and where you feel comfortable enough to really let loose.
Your workspace should be like going to the gym. It should have everything you need as far as tools or help on hand, and it should have a distinct lack of distracters. At the library, I’m surrounded by books for inspiration and nearly any reference I might need. The WiFi is free, but I can choose to turn that off if it’s detracting too much from my task. The people here are, usually, also working on their computers or studying, so there’s a good chance no one will be coming around to bother me or take up a lot of my time.
What I consider the Golden Rule for creative workspace can be said in one word: comfort. You should feel safe and comfortable no matter what in your space. I’d even go so far as to say you should feel like an untouchable monarch, and that desk, corner, or nook is your kingdom. Being creative can be a very personal thing and you need to be able to feel comfortable when you are opening yourself to that kind of exposure. No one wants to be laughed at when they run on the treadmill, just like no one wants to be laughed at for creating something unusual.
To be honest, this whole experience has made me curious whether or not my struggle is normal. So, creatures of the internet, tell me: What is your ideal workspace? How does it compare to the workspace that you’re currently using? And, if you could, how would you improve your creative workspace?