It doesn't have to be big. It doesn't even have to be a room. And, contrary to popular belief (or want) it doesn't even have to segregate you from the rest of the world. Of course we'd all love to have that perfect little hideaway, secluded from noise and distraction.
"There, and only there, will I write my masterpiece..."
But where you write best sometimes doesn't come with it's own key.
I know I used to have one such place. Although it was situated in the belly of the house, my 'office' had a desk, carpeting, a window, and...drum roll please...a door. With a LOCK!!! No heat, mind you. But it was mine... whenever I could carve away even the tiniest amount of time alone to write.
One hour, one day, one minute....one minute....one minute...half a minute....
Except, more times than not, the moment I sat down with my hot cup of tea and vanilla-lavender candle aglow, someone needed me. Or someone popped in the door crying and screaming about this and that...
"He touched my toy!" the three year old cried.
"She hit me!" the five year old cried.
"My wife left me!" the thirty-five year old cried. "Oh, wait. There you are! I've been looking all over for you!" Kiss, hug, love... "The kids need you, honey."
Suffice to say, my room away from it all wasn't all it was cracked up to be. I hardly ever had more than ten continuous minutes to rub together. And when it takes me thirty minutes to 'get there', aka: into the story, ten ten-minute increments of solitude a day isn't enough to eek out an outline, let alone an entire novel.
Surrendering, I took to the dining room table with my laptop. Or if the kids were downstairs, down to the table next to the play area. Outside on the patio table after a good amount of playing and gardening with the kids. Laptop open, manuscript ready, there I sat. Totally open. Totally available. Totally in the middle of things. My novel, my life as I only dreamed it, doomed...
But you know what?
By being out in the open...everyone leaves me alone ! I don't know if they only felt like they had to seek me out before when I was locked away by myself. Maybe it made them feel uncomfortable to have mommy out of the loop, unavailable for boo boo kisses and such. I don't know...kids, husbands...you know how they are ;) Now, when I sit down to write right where they are, they don't come looking for me.
Yes, I still get interrupted. Yes, I still have to stop mid-sentence to help locate a MIA toy or make a snack. For some reason, since I'm writing in the middle of the mix, when I do get asked to stop short and switch gears, I don't loose it, (aka: get taken out of my story) as much. My thinking process isn't stopped as much being out in the open, in the middle of things, as it did when I was totally immersed in solitude.
Maybe that's just it.
Perhaps creating a writing sanctuary doesn't have to involve candles, closed doors, and a window with a view. It just has to be 'where you write', whether it be the kitchen table or with no table at all.
Where do you write? How do you deal with the distractions and interruptions? Do you wait until everyone's gone to bed? Or carve out an hour or two on the weekend?
Ever since I left my room to write at the dining room table - an hour here, twenty minutes there, where I can hear and see everything going on around me - I feel as though I've not only written more consistently, but I've written better, as I can write everyday if I want. I don't need to wait for the perfect moment when everyone in the family has been taken care of and everything in the house is done. I can just say, "Hey, they don't need me for the next half hour. I think I'm going to write a little bit."
And I do.