A Writer's Space

I went to RWA’s National convention last year. In the book room I picked up several craft books, including Eric Maisel’s A Writer’s Space. Eleven months later, sigh, I’m working my way through it. I started writing because I love to read and found I now spend far less time reading than I used to, or should. But we’ve set up a home office for me, so picking up some tips about using that space to its fullest advantage appealed to me.

Like so many writing/reference/inspirational books, there isn’t much new in this, but the presentation method makes it worthwhile. Maisel addresses more than just physical space. He also talks about home space, emotional space, public space, existential space, reflective space. Good stuff, organized in a different fashion, coming a time when I need it. This is why I hoard books like other people hoard snowglobes or African art. You never know when you’ll pick up a book you initially felt was dull, uninteresting or irrelevant and find it useful, even essential.

“Figure out what you want from yourself, not what you want for yourself. Head in that direction.” That’s Lesson 18. The key takeaway is in the prepositions from and for. We spend a great deal of time thinking about what we want for ourselves, everything from a big screen plasma TV to a request for a full ms to a sabbatical in Europe to an ice cream sundae. We spent far less time thinking about what we want from ourselves. While this can sound very daunting, very “I couldn’t please my father/mother/God/babysitter/professor so why even bother to try?”, it’s actually key to making sure your writing career follows your ambitions, not someone else’s. For example:

I want to write five pages a day.

I want to write a synopsis by the end of the week.

I want to write a better draft of that last chapter by Wednesday.

I want to rework the heroine’s GMC chart based on what I’ve learned about her as I wrote the inciting incident (or even the black moment – those pesky GMCs don’t go away just because you’ve finished a draft).

As long as you’re not writing on contract, the only person you’re responsible to for your writing is YOU. So think about what you want from yourself, because in the end, what you want could be the greatest thing for yourself.

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