Creating the Writing Sanctuary

A brief history of Amy’s Private Writing Sanctuaries:

Thus completes my brief history.

I have always, always, always written stories, but I have never had a real writing room–a place I could call my own, someplace I could organize to encourage the Muse.

This is not to say I have never found quiet places to write. I have, always.

When I shared a bedroom with my sister in high school, I had an old manual typewriter, and I clacked away on it while I jammed to those sweet 80s tunes on my boom box whenever my sister was out of the room. I’m sure she stayed out of the room when she heard the clacking.

When I got married, we had a two-bedroom apartment, followed by another two-bedroom apartment, followed by a two-bedroom house. In each of those places, the extra bedroom housed one computer that we shared. This rarely caused any conflicts, though, because back in those days, I didn’t write much, and there was little Internet to speak of, so it was always pretty easy to work out who spent time on the computer.

Back in those days, I worked at a job where I had a lot of downtime, so I wrote at work on my computer in the reception area. No jams, and I was always nervous that someone would read over my shoulder, and I had to save my stories on floppy disks and take them home to work on them there. I got the writing done, but the front desk of a construction management firm was hardly a writing sanctuary.

After our first baby was born, the second bedroom became a nursery, and then it housed two kids for a while, and then we moved into a bigger house with–yay!–four bedrooms! The downstairs bedroom was a shared office–again. When I started freelancing in 2004 (or thereabouts), I worked in the office during the day while the hubs was at work and the kids were asleep or watching TV, or I worked at night when the hubs could take care of the kids. But still, a shared room is not really a writer’s sanctuary.

The hubs started working from home full time in late 2006, and then the office became unequivocally his room. Eventually, I managed to get my own laptop, and then I just sat on the bed or at the dining room table and tried to work, which was… tricky, to say the least.

When I started getting busier with freelance work and fiction, I found a tiny desk to put in the corner of our bedroom, and this is where I’ve worked ever since.

This is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination.

Earlier this year, I rented a small office space near my house, hoping that this would give me a space to turn into my own. But every time I’ve tried to work there, something fell apart at home. Of course, things fall apart when I’m at home, too, but I expect it then. In any case, that didn’t give me confidence to work there… And then we bought the house in Idaho, so I resigned myself to just moving the new office furniture to Idaho and setting up my writing sanctuary there.

And on that note…

The new house has five bedrooms, so one of those will be mine.

Here’s the blank slate:

The picture doesn’t really do the floor justice. We just had new flooring put in, and it’s actually more gray than brown. I think the ugly fluorescent light fixture in that room is messing with the real color. That fixture will be one of the next things to change…

I have a desk and a chair that don’t quite suit the office, but are brand new, and will therefore suffice, because I’m too cheap to get more new furniture. I will make them work.

But let’s be honest: The things that make a great writing room aren’t just the floors, desks, chairs, and lighting. I mean, those are all important, but the things that make it a place that courts the Muse are… more subjective.

So here are some of the things my writing room will have:

This poster:

You can buy that poster unframed on Amazon or in various other places; just search for “old world language tree,” and you’ll find a bunch of options. I already had mine framed and took it to the house; it’s waiting to be hung, but I want to figure out where the desk will go first.

Comfy furniture: My desk and chair are fine for web and video conferencing, for doing intense writing work where I need to type a lot, for opening both laptops, for writing checks and managing the business side of things…

But when it comes time to edit on paper or do some handwritten brainstorming, I’m going to need a big chair or loveseat where I can pull my feet up under me and relax while my brain does the work.

Pillows and throw blankets: To go with the comfy furniture.

Dog beds and a cat tree, most likely: I have four furry co-workers. The cats come and go, but the dogs are essentially two large pieces of furniture themselves. So yes, dog beds and probably a cat tree will be a must… though I suspect the cats will take over the comfy furniture…

Books. Lots of books: In addition to the books I have to sign and sell, I need to have books to reference, books to inspire, books to help me untangle writing troubles. I have a bookshelf that will come with me. I may end up with more than one. We’ll see how much room I have. Because the other thing my writing sanctuary will have is…

Yarn: I have said for a long time that knitting helps me untangle my brain when I’m not feeling very creative. I will need a little space for a little bit of yarn–just a project or two that I can work on when I need to relax my brain so it can do its job.

Snacks: Because the truth about being a work-at-home mom is that every time you leave the office, there is a 73.8% chance you will become mired in some kind of conversation or duty completely unrelated to your work. My office will be amply supplied with snacks. And coffee. And probably dog treats.

As the move gets closer, I can’t help daydreaming more and more about this office. I have worked there already, but on a folding table and chair and with nothing else to make the room my own. To have a personal writing sanctuary after all these decades is almost too wondrous to imagine.

If you’re really curious about what I’m thinking about for my writing room, you can check out my Writing Shed board on Pinterest. I started it when I was thinking of a backyard shed, and then for a while I thought about doing something in our closet under the stairs, but neither of those things worked out. The ideas are transferable, though, and I’m adding more as we get closer to the final move.

Tell me below: What would you have in your own personal writing sanctuary? Or art studio? Or crafting room? Or just your own quiet room? What do you think I should put in mine?

2 thoughts on “Creating the Writing Sanctuary”

  1. A lock on the door, ha-ha!
    A small reefer for cold snacks and drinks. (Coffee maker (Keurig, of course, to reduce waste) sits atop it.

    Sounds pretty good as is, til you get in and live for a while. Enjoy!

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