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I don’t have my own space as a writer yet, but I dream of one. I’ve already got the wall colour and furniture picked out. I’ll be moving into a house with an office soon so I thought it would be a good time to share how I found room to write in the 30m2 studio apartment that I share with my husband.
We got married in mid-2019, and at first, the apartment was a cosy space for us. It felt big enough, especially because Max was a student and going into school most days. I was also a university student but my study was online so I didn’t leave the house too often.
We set up our shared desk space and were able to balance life pretty well. He wasn’t there for a lot of the day so finding my own space wasn’t difficult. It was all my own space.
Then Covid happened, and the first lockdown hit us hard.
We were both at home 24/7.
It was difficult. I’m not going to lie or sugarcoat it. We all have found the last few years rough.
I’m glad that we had such good communication skills already in place. We had barely been married before being glued to each other for the foreseeable future.
If we hadn’t been able to talk and respect each other space I’m not sure where we would be today.
Get tools to drown out the noise around you.
The lockdown actually began my journey of listening to music while writing.
It helped me to drown out the noises in the house while I was working. I was used to just listening to the sound of typing. The adjustment was hard at first.
I couldn’t listen to anything with lyrics because I would end up singing, now I’m able to, but it took a long time to build up that self-control.
My husband ended up getting noise-cancelling headphones to deal with the sound of my typing.
Train your brain to react to a certain place, playlist or software.
Next, we’re going to talk about carving out a place to write.
This can include half of a desk or a specific spot on the comfy couch. You should have a special place where you go to write. Having a specific writing location helps you to get into the mood for work. If you have a place where you go you’ll find it gets easier and easier to get into a good frame of mind for writing.
Some writers do like to change it up and write in a bunch of different places. What I would suggest as an equivalent is perhaps a specific time of day, sitting position, playlist or writing software to train your brain when it’s time for writing.
It will work a bit like an alarm clock. When you do a specific thing it’s time to write.
The barrier to entry will be lowered and the habit will take over.
Put boundaries in place with friends or family.
When we were just married my husband would occasionally try to talk to me during a writing session. This would entirely throw me off of my train of thought which would lead to frustration and anger.
It was more the emotional aftermath than the act of speaking which led to a derailed writing session. I felt disrespected when I was interrupted like my writing wasn’t as important as the meme my husband was entertained by. That frustration led to a creative block.
Nothing was more dangerous for my writing than an interruption. Now that I know to expect interruptions occasionally I’m much better at managing my emotions. The relational message has been clarified and my husband no longer shows me memes while I’m working (instead he sends them to me to watch in my free time).
I didn’t put all of the pressure on myself to change. I did talk to my husband about how the interruptions affected my workday. We agreed then that important interruptions were okay but for the most part watercooler talk was out.
My husband had to adjust the way that he worked at home with me, and while that was difficult for him at first we can both agree that me protecting both my writing and my emotions was probably more important than the occasional chatter that he enjoys.
It can be complicated to adjust to the way that somebody else works. Perhaps for you as a writer, silence isn’t a must. Maybe you enjoy bouncing ideas off of the room or can handle some background noise.
Either way, you’ll likely need to make adjustments with the people around you to make sure that you aren’t hurting them and that they aren’t hurting you or your writing time.
Boundaries can be hard to establish and set up but once they are in place they will save a lot of long term issues.
If boundaries aren’t respected it can lead to feelings of resentment from either partner so make sure that everyone involved in the boundary understands why they are there and what they are good for.
If everyone is on board you can proceed but don’t be closed to negotiations. Multiple people are involved in the space so multiple people need to be included in the decision making.
Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you find your space as a writer.
Carving out a time and place for your writing brings its own unique challenges but I’m sure you’re up to the task.
As always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf.