Monday, July 9, 2012

Writing Space

A writer needs a place to write. While that may sound obvious, many of us try to get by with whatever peace and quiet we can grab between family and favorite television shows. I wrote my first novel, The Night Train, mostly in our family living room, either sitting in my recliner or in front of a portable laptop table.

I often got up early on weekends, before anyone else stirred, and got in a couple of quiet hours. Even then, I had to suppress the urge to turn on the television.

Television is a distraction.

There were times when I went outside, but the glare on my laptop screen made it next to unbearable, so I always ended up coming back inside. I tried headphones, with music turned up loud enough to drown out the television, my wife, and my kids. But how do you ignore a 9-year old who is tapping you on the shoulder wanting to tell you how he just beat the next level in whatever video game he is playing? How do you not glance at the television and become engrossed in the movie or (for me) reality show about pawn shops or antique picking or swamp loggers?

Somehow I finished my first novel, but I NEEDED my own private writing space.

An idea struck me to clean out a corner of an outside storage shed. I could throw up a wall and put in a small air conditioner and write. My wife suggested we buy my own storage shed and install walls and insulation and flooring. I thought that would be too much money. My novel, after all, wasn't breaking any sales records and might never sell enough to pay for the paperbacks we had already given away.

She convinced me (I was an easy sale). We ordered a 12 x 16 storage building from a local company. It had 2x4 walls, a plywood floor, and tin exterior. I installed a small electrical panel with three circuits -- enough for electrical outlets, an air conditioner / heater receptacle, a light, and a mini-fridge. Next I put in insulation and interior walls. I'm not a great carpenter but it turned out pretty well, I think.

I put down vinyl tiles on the floor. My son picked out the paint and my stepson painted it while I was away on a business trip.


Early on, my son claimed half the space as his. He wants to be a writer like his dad. So I gladly accepted his offer to take over half of my writing space. We dubbed it the "writing cave".

My wife bought me a nice office chair for Father's Day. It's comfortable enough to fall asleep in, but so far I've managed to stay awake.

The key thing is this: it is amazing how much more creative I am in my new writing space. My primary rule is that there will never be a television allowed inside. Even on Sundays, when NASCAR demands four hours of my attention, I will not take a television into the cave. I listen to the race on the radio while I write. At other times I listen to music, or nothing at all.

I have no internet in the cave, except for my smartphone (I have to keep up with Twitter).

I find myself writing after work now, on weekdays, when before I might sit with the laptop on the arm of my recliner and peck out a few words during commercials.

The bottom line is that I love my new writing space. Every writer should have a space all their own. A place where they are free to sit and think and create. I've moved my favorite books from the house to the cave. Just looking at them inspires me to make my own writing better.

Where do you write?


  1. TV is a bad distraction, but so is Facebook! I write in my bedroom, small apartment. I don't really need a specific space, just my brain and a computer. LOL

  2. I was quite surprised at how much of a difference the writing cave has made for me. I tried the bedroom, but when the kids and grandkids are running, there's no quiet place inside.

  3. You are lucky to have an unattached writing space! I usually have to put my headphones on and pretend the pounding on my office door is concert crowd getting rowdy. But hey, I have an office!

  4. Great idea, Carl. Glad to hear your wife talked you into it. Now you've got your office, that place away from "home" where you know it's time to sit down and write. Good thing, too, you don't have internet connection.

    1. Every writer needs their own space. I didn't realize how much until I got my own. I might have to rectify that internet thing, though. Marketing is as much a part of writing as the writing, it seems.