Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Ksenia Anske

Creative Spaces

My writing space is more than just a physical place. It’s my pattern, my routine, my specific mood to settle into when writing. You know how when you put on your exercise attire, you’re more likely to actually exercise? Yeah, same with me and my writing space. When I’m in it, with the door closed, I’m more likely to do actual writing. It’s nothing special, really. A typical desk with a lamp and a stack of books in the corner. And an exercise ball instead of a chair because I like to bend back, crack my back and hang with my head upside down when thinking. I imagine because of all the blood rushing to my head, when stuck, within a few minutes of inverting myself I usually get an idea or two on how to proceed.

And I like my space clean, orderly and spartan. When it’s organized, I feel like my mind is organized. I tend to outline my novel before diving in, and I like tracking my character’s journeys on a map, so I have maps on both walls facing the desk and small square sticky notes with scene reminders and character traits. I also pin index cards corresponding to each Chapter next to the map and like to rearrange them when early in the Draft. It felt so awesome to get rid of them on Draft 3!

Another thing I like doing is gazing out the window at the woods that are usually pretty foggy and creepy looking in the winter, but also very green and full of squirrels in the summer. Plus, our house sits really high on a hill, so the whole neighborhood is sort of below us. I love it. It’s quiet and serene and very much ME at the same time. By that I mean, the stranger a forest looks, the more I would want to go in and attempt to get lost in it. So I constantly take pictures of the trees and bushes around my house and post them online as inspiration, be it sunny or rainy or foggy or, you guessed it, creepy.

Creatives Spaces by Ksenia Anske

Ksenia Anske in her creative space

I usually go in my space and close the door at about 8am and do about 2 hours of social media, then at 10am turn everything off except my Sigur Ros or Bjork or Radiohead radio station on Pandora, play my 6 or 7 Words with Friends games, and then start by reading out loud what I wrote the day before, typically 1/2 of a Chapter, correct minor details as I go, and then seamlessly drift into new writing, next 1/2 of a Chapter. I don’t let myself out unless I either wrote for 4 hours or wrote at least 2,000 words. Oh, and I have a large cup of black coffee with me!

I’m currently working on my 1st novel, SIREN SUICIDES, Draft 5, which should be done by April of this year. It’s a story about a teenage girl, Ailen Bright, who lost her mother to suicide by drowning, hates her controlling father and decides to escape reality in the same way. On her 16th birthday she attempts to drown herself, but instead of dying turns into a siren and discovers that her father is a siren hunter. She also discovers that she wants to eat the soul of her best friend Hunter Crossby, because it sounds irresistibly delicious. To figure all of this out, she dives into an adventure akin to Alice in Wonderland, except it’s all things water, rain, songs, and magic that’s both sinister and dreamy.

Despite my beautifully set up creative space, many mornings I go through crying bouts of anxiety before starting, usually lasting 30 minutes (it’s getting better now that I’m gaining confidence), typically being afraid that what I write is complete shit and nonsense and horrible absurdity and nobody will ever be interested in reading it. I have to drag myself through these either by breathing or by bugging my boyfriend over Skype (while he’s at work), sending him messages like “I CAN’T DO THIS, I SUCK!” and him calmly responding, “YES, YOU CAN. YOU DON’T SUCK.”

And in I go, into my daily pattern. Write. Read. Repeat.


Ksenia Anske was born in Moscow, Russia, and came to US in 1998 not knowing English, having studied architecture and not dreaming that one day she’d be writing. She lives in Seattle with her boyfriend and their combined 4 kids in a house on top of the hill that they like to call The Loony Bin. Visit Ksenia’s website or her facebook page.

 This post marks the launch of the Creative Spaces 11 part series.  Come back to hear about other writers and their creative journeys.