Sunday, January 23, 2011

Customizing Your Writing Space

Look at your writing space.  You have a writing space, don't you?  Mine is a shared space, but it's shared only with other activities, not with other people.  The key thing about owning a space like this is that you can make it your own; you can customize it.

There are lots of ways to do this, but in my mind they break down into two areas; you can customize for taste, or for functionality.  Either way you have to guard against the customization becoming an end in itself.

Some people, for instance, are organizers or color-coordinators or alphabetizers or picture-of-the-day types.  When they realize their space could be more (insert their problem here) than it is, they buy storage bins, a bulletin board, new pencils, better calendars, more colors of sticky-notes -- whatever.

I am a tool-maker by nature.  When I find a problem, my first impulse is to make a tool to solve it.  If I buy storage bins, I might have to modify them so they do the job to my satisfaction.  I might be tempted to make a custom bulletin board, because none of the ones commercially available will do the trick, or my own color-coded index cards because I'm too cheap to buy them (and mine are better anyway).

And that's fine, so long as it doesn't become another excuse not to write.  I try (and try and try) to get the tool-maker in me to concentrate on the real goal:  is my real goal to make tools?  No.  Take a step back:  is my goal to solve problems?  No again.  Step back further.  Is my goal to write my story?  Yes, that's it!

We need to solve problems to tell our stories.  We need to get our spelling and grammar correct, and we need to have so many different things, pacing, voice, character, dialog, etc, all work together seamlessly.  Sometimes we make tools (or buy colored markers) to help us solve some of our problems, but the goal has to be to write.  Otherwise we're working on the wrong thing.

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