Creative Spaces — Post by Victoria M. Johnson

Creative Spaces

I love my writing space. I have a large Mac computer where I do most of my writing. It sits in a corner of my office surrounded by bookshelves, writerly magazines, and notepads. I wish I could say I keep the desk clean, but paper clutter is a constant struggle for me. I’m always working on something, taking notes for something else, and keeping track of things to do. I’m sure I’m not the only writer who fights the paper demon. I also have a weakness that often overtakes my office–I love books. I have too many but there is always another one I want. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, short stories and anthologies all beckon me. If I lived in a larger home that wouldn’t be much of a problem, but we live in an 800 square foot mobile home!  I’m happy here; it’s the perfect size home for us, set in the perfect location. I know I just need to read faster so I can pass the books on.

My office inspires me. When I first enter the room I see a few writing awards I’ve received hanging on the wall. I have encouraging quotes and affirmations around my desk area that I can easily see as I’m writing. And some interesting images and fun pieces of art make me smile when I glance at them. All of these things spark my creativity. But what about sparking my productivity?

I’ve had to resort to using an egg timer. That’s right. I have an egg timer on my desk. I use it to limit my time doing things that I find irresistible that aren’t writing. The major temptation that takes me away from writing is Twitter. Followed by Pinterest. Both of these distractions are so enjoyable that if I don’t watch myself, I can spend hours every day there. The egg timer is my only defense to ensure I stay productive and create new material everyday. I also use the egg timer to trick myself into doing tasks that I don’t feel like doing. I’ll say to myself, “You only have to spend 25 minutes editing this piece” or “Just take 15 minutes to read email.”  If I don’t do a little bit at a time, then the task piles up into a really unpleasant chore. So the egg timer serves a dual purpose, and I found a cool looking one.

Creative Spaces post by Victoria M. Johnson

Victoria finds inspiration in her small corner desk space.

My husband and I have lived in this home for nearly three years. I created a short story collection titled, The Substitute Bride, while living here. I’ve also written my first poem and several more poems since moving here. I’ve worked on film projects in this home. I’m editing two major pieces that were partially written in our previous house: one is a mainstream thriller and the other is a nonfiction book. And I’m working on a new short story collection. I’m eager to return to a romance novel that I entirely mapped out last year, but I got distracted by my publishing house (Avalon Books) selling to a new publisher (Montlake Romance) and I decided to wait until all that dust settled before writing it.

I don’t listen to music while I write, but I do like music when I’m on social media, tidying up my office, or handling the business aspects of writing. I don’t look out the window of my office because that distracts me. But I sometimes sit by the window of our dining room when I write poetry.

My office is my creative sanctuary. My writing style is reflected in this space.  One glimpse at my office and you’ll know this about my writing: 1. I have an optimistic outlook. 2. I believe in clearing away clutter and leaving only what’s absolutely needed 3. Timing is everything, and 4. I adore intriguing images.

No matter the size of your space, make it an inviting atmosphere. Then, once there, write. Fight off the distractions. Protect your writing time. Only you can control your productivity. You also need to fight off insecurities about yourself as a writer. Many writers experience doubts at one time or another. Write down affirmations and post them near your computer. One of mine says, “I have interesting stories to tell.” Another says, “I have a unique voice.” I see them everyday and these help boost my confidence. Write four or five and post them where you’ll see them.

Bio: Victoria M. Johnson is published in fiction and nonfiction. She also writes and directs short films. Read her full bio here. You’d make her happy if you followed her on Twitter and Facebook, or even Pinterest.

Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Kathleen Pooler

Creative Spaces

Clear out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.” Dee Hock

We all have creative energies within but the challenge is learning how to tap into them. My writing space is just one of the areas that help me connect with my creativity.

An upstairs office, overlooking the woods that surround our home provides me with a window to the outside world, keeping me connected with nature and its changing seasons. The fact that it is upstairs helps me to block out interruptions as I close the door to the downstairs’ commotion and enter into solitude. I am surrounded by book shelves, files, posters of mandalas and writing exercises I have done, including a trifold cardboard storyboard with bright yellow stars that map out my memoir-in-progress. Pictures of family and friends along with my blog schedule and list of to-dos for the week adorn the window and walls.

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Kathleen Pooler

Kathleen Pooler is challenged by clutter in her creative workspace.

In this space, I am inspired by the solitude and dedication to my writing that each artifact represents- my computer, printer, notebooks of vignettes, a bookcase filled with writing resources. I keep my iPad handy in case I want to tune into Pandora radio as background music. A gold crucifix, an angel statue, a lighthouse knick knack, a teacup candle with inspiration emblazoned across the cup all serve to remind me of my purpose in writing- to share my hope and faith with others.

As you can see from my picture, there is some clutter. That was after I cleaned it up. So clutter is my biggest challenge. Even though we live in a digital world, I still feel the need to make hard copies of my work. This necessitates files, file cabinets and space-occupying clutter. Before I can really focus on my work at hand, I have to spend some time, clearing the space. The way I see it, my work space is an extension of me and my mind so if it is messy, I feel out of sorts. Sifting and sorting through the piles of papers and organizing them helps me to clear my mind and feel in better control. Another challenge is staying off the internet to minimize distractions and stay focused on the writing. I use Rescue Time, a time management accountability system that provides me with weekly reports via email on my productivity and how much time I spend writing vs. internet activities.

I have written three-plus years of weekly blog posts, crafted my memoir-in-progress, now in its first revision review with my manuscript editor and launched my career as a writer in this space.

But sometimes, the writing space is not enough to stimulate creativity. Sometimes I need to walk away and let my work “marinate”; sometimes I need to leave my sacred space and take a walk in the woods, or play my piano or listen to music.

I’ve learned to listen to what my body tells me about when I need to burrow myself in my office or when I need to walk away. My creative space can be found in many different places. Some of my best ideas have been spawned during a walk in the woods or as I’m lying in bed trying to go to sleep. When the muse comes, I’ve learned to listen and keep a notebook handy to jot it all down.

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Kathleen Pooler Bio: 

Kathleen Pooler is a writer and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner who is working on a memoir about how the power of hope through her faith in God has helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments: divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.

She blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog: http://krpooler.com and can be found on Twitter and on LinkedIn, Google+, Goodreads and Facebook.

 One of her stories “The Stone on the Shore” is published in the anthology: “The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment” by Pat LaPointe, 2012.

 Another story: “Choices and Chances” is published in the mini-anthology: “My Gutsy Story” by Sonia Marsh, 2012.

Stepping From 2012 Into 2013

I’m looking forward to 2013 and I hope you are, too.  I’m eager to take those steps into a fresh year, starting out with a clean slate.  While I usually have a list ready by the first of the year—call it resolutions, goals, or a To-Do list—this year I’m doing something different. My goal is to have a leaner list of things to be done.  I’m resolving to be less stressed, less over-committed, and more living in the moment. 

artsy stairsteps

I must admit I don’t know how long this lifestyle will last.  I’ve always been an overachiever.  But the time has come for me to decompress.  How about you?  Are you feeling like you’ll never be caught up or are you feeling frustrated by too much to do?  Allow yourself some time to unwind.  Free your mind of clutter.  Focus on the important things in your life.  That’s what I’m resolving to do. 

I found this great article, Live In The Moment, which gives useful tips for living in the moment and the benefits of living in the moment.  Believe it or not, I think these practices will help us be more productive.  Wishing you and yours a meaningful New Year.  Start the year out right, step from 2012 into 2013 with less stress.