When it comes to my writing, I'm generally optimistic--or at least tenacious. I know this is what I want, and I know how much work goes into it (or at least, as much as someone with my level of experience can). But now and then the advice and the information bog me down.
The thing I've been bumping against recently is the advice that a writer's space needs to be sacred.
There's nothing wrong with this advice, really. There's something to be said for ritualizing the writing process. Building a habit makes it easier to keep in the swing of things. Turning writing into a habit has certainly increased my word output this past year--and the practice has increased the quality of my work. Still, though, something about this advice always rubs me the wrong way.
The advice about making a writer's space sacred usually goes something like this: a writer needs a specific space set aside for their work. This space needs to be theirs, a place where they can set up and organize without having to pick it up at the end of every writing session. The members of the writer's family need to respect this space. It needs to have a door. To be a retreat for the writer.
|Behold, the Writer's Lair--birthplace of fiction.|
That's not feasible for me. The physical space of my home and the number of residents in it doesn't allow for a specific writing space, at least not in its current condition--and it's current condition has been the same more or less since we moved in.
I write where I can--usually at the kitchen table or on the couch. And it works for me--it's not ideal, but I get the work done. Not having a writing space set aside specifically for my work doesn't keep me from working. Nor should it, not if I'm really dedicated to writing. I know that this advice is a suggestion, not a rule, as most advice about writing is.
But damn, does not being able to follow it make me feel like a fake.
It's a stupid little thing, but sometimes writing advice like this gets at me. The advice is well-intentioned, and it's good advice for the people who can follow it. Sometimes, though, it can feel like one more thing that's keeping me from being a "real" writer.
A lot of this kind of advice--stuff like having a specific, private space or having a set time for writing or traveling or paying for conferences and meet ups--comes from people with a different set of experiences. For them, it's probably a simple--or at least simpler thing to set a side the space or time or money. For me, it's not. But that doesn't mean that I can't do some of those things. That I can't adapt and make things work. That I can't get the work done. It still gets in my head.
It can feel like there's a checklist for being a writer that I can't complete. Imposter syndrome is an on-going battle. And I see enough posts and comments from established authors that are variations of "I still don't feel like I know what I'm doing" to know that this is normal. I'm able to keep going--more importantly, I want to--need to--keep going.
This kind of advice that I can't follow isn't going to stop me. But, you know, maybe think twice before telling me to create my own sacred writing space.