Monday, January 23, 2017

Monday Musings: Creative Spaces

I’m one of those writers who can write anywhere. Bus trips cross country-check. Tailgate by the creek-check. Subway platform-double check, one for the amazing character potential and another for the crazy things one might see. Coffee shops-love ‘em. Amtrac station-perfect, even when it’s DC and I’m there for 24 hours. Hockey arena stands while the youngest is taking figure skating lessons – you betcha, it keeps the chatty Kathy’s away. I just plug in the ear buds and let the music carry me away, drowning out everything but the sound of the characters. Having the ability to get lost in my writing makes working on the go easier.  I’ve worked on novels at football games, waiting rooms, museum trips, even jotted down notes while taking a tour of a cave. My notebook is never far from my fingers, but nothing in the world compares to having my own solitary creative space to retreat to.

In a house that up until recently contained five people (we’re down to four now that the oldest has moved out) it isn’t always easy to find a quiet space that isn’t high traffic. Setting up in the living room works during school hours, is okay, as long as no one stops by, the phone doesn’t ring incessantly, and no one lingers on the way through seeking conversation. Unfortunately, at least one, if not all of those things is the norm in my living room, which makes it a less than ideal space.

The same reasons also cancels out the sitting room, though I love the space dearly, especially when all of the lights and candles are going. My studio, in winter is also less than ideal, though for ¾ of the year it is the ideal place to work. I’ve long since decided that within my own home it’s the best I can hope for, at least until the last spawn graduates, and even then, I live with two other adults, so there is that.

The studio is in the attic of a 100 year old house, and the insulation is certainly in need of replacement. It’s on the list, hopefully within in the next three years I can get that done and add a sort of finished look with some plywood and paint. Until then, I’ve done my level best to make it as perfect of a working space for me as I can. Considering that it isn’t just writing I do, but digital art, that’s made for a few challenges, like placing the art desk and setting up a low writing table that can double for graphics work. Still, I’ve come to realize that there were a few key elements that while small, also made it perfect.

My keys to a successful creative space

Music (generally a playlist to fit the mood and theme of each story)
Low/soft lighting
Isolated location
Few to no distractions ie. Not being able to see things that I think I should be doing.
Comfortable chair
Warm, fuzzy blanket in cool months
Fan in warm months
Writing supplies on hand for minimal movement
Snacks and drinks readily available
Lack of clock or clock is obscured from view
Window to occasionally gaze out of
Corkboard or notebook full of inspiring saying and images (photos, magazine clippings postcards, ect.)

Having set up my in-home work space, I quickly realized that I needed something I could take on the road, a bag that was always packed, supplies carefully kept in the truck, something that would allow me to work from wherever I decided to wander, especially when the weather was nice. I finally decided that the perfect mobile creative space was my pickup truck. 

Between the roomy cab and the bed, I had plenty of room to work with no matter the situation, and on the road, I quickly realized that I needed far less comforts than home to make things perfect. My ideal creative traveling space only needs the following:

Notebooks and office supplies (mini laptop optional)
Comfortable blanket and clothing

Not bad, really, when I really started to think about just how much time I spend on back roads and by the woods.

Over the years, I’ve tried to set schedules, maintain word counts, establish goals and achieve them, and having both creative spaces has been key to making that possible. On a busy day, I can sneak in bits of note taking, researching and writing in between daily chores, but there’s nothing like being able to sit down in a comfortable, comforting, inspiring space and just get to work.

 I’d love it if readers would share pictures of their creative spaces. Here's my ideal one. I would love to live in a cabin somewhere up here. 

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