Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Theresa Braun

Creative Spaces

What do I need before I can write?  Ideally, I need not to be drained from my day job.  Often I really have to push myself to write, even if I don’t feel like it.  Sometimes a glass of wine will get me in the zone, but other times I just end up in a gloriously deep nap. 

My creativity is triggered by color, scent, and the overall vibe of my writing space.  This vibe has to do with making an imaginative connection with eras gone by.  I have a few time periods that I’m drawn to, which include Renaissance and Victorian England.  1920s America is fascinating to me as well.  I tend to like artists like Waterhouse, who capture this feel.  It is easy for me to be transported back in time or just to be inspired by the energy of my favorite second hand antique furniture and fabrics. 

I love to surround myself with velvet drapery and artwork with rich colors such as reds and golds.  My favorite place to sit is on my down feather stuffed mint green velvet couch.  I also enjoy having old prints of angels, Madonnas, and Greek mythology strategically hung on the walls with gilded frames and dramatic matting. 

Creative Spaces Guest Post by Theresa Braun

Theresa Braun finds inspiration from the vibe of her writing space.

Then, there are always the scented candles (preferably vanilla, sage, or sandalwood aromas), incense, and gentle lighting coming from dainty ornate lamps.  Of course it also helps to keep the clutter at bay, so I find myself having to keep on top of junk mail, dishes piling in the sink, and laundry that needs to be folded, as well as any minor disasters that have been created by the cats.  I find that it is impossible to ignore these things, as it disturbs the creative energy.   

An added bonus is when one of the cats decides to cuddle up while I’m typing away at my laptop.  It’s like he’s there for moral and creative support, and a bit of warmth.  The last touch is that there is always something on like the television or some uplifting music.  It’s probably a throw back to my days of studying in high school and college.  My brain is used to some background noise. 

I also need to get out into a different atmosphere every once in awhile.  That entails going to a local pub or to a coffee shop with my laptop.  The only downside is sometimes I get distracted by conversation.  It helps to go somewhere no one knows me. 

If I’m really lucky, I manage to write on vacation while in Europe.  Right now I’m working on a novel set in Renaissance England and I’ll be spending a couple of days in London over my spring break.  I would love to make it back during the summer so I could write on location, if you will.  When unable to travel, I’ll look at my Shakespeare bust and ask him to send me some writing mojo. 

In between finding time to work on the next novel, I’ve been whipping up some blog posts to keep myself writing.  My latest mantra:  “I will write a blog post this week.”  I figure if I can’t manage to write in large chunks right now, a blog post is still keeping the creativity flowing.  I also hope that it amuses readers to boot. 

Creative Spaces Guest Post by Theresa BraunBio: Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides.  An English teacher and adjunct college professor for over thirteen years, she continues to share her enthusiasm for literary arts and writing with her students.  In her spare time, she enjoys delving into her own creative writing, painting, photography and even bouts of ghost hunting.  Perhaps growing up in a haunted house in Winona, Minnesota is to blame.  Traveling as often as possible is one of her passions.  In fact, her world meanderings are often backdrops for her work.  She has started to blog about her online dating experience and some of her everyday adventures.  Visit Theresa’s website at:

Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Rosanna Silverlight

Creative Spaces

When I write, I enter my own mental space where nothing exists except the page and the will to write – or the struggle to break into the writing state of mind. I fight hard for that precious concentration; once I have it I’m reluctant to give it up when a distraction comes. In one sense, my writing space is wherever I am when that tug of war between mind and page begins. 

It probably evolved that way because I never had one dedicated place for writing until almost two years ago – but since moving in with my boyfriend, first to a flat and then, last April, to our first house, I’ve discovered what it really means to create a physical space where I let myself loose not just on the page, but on the surroundings themselves. 

I’ve had a lot of fun putting my office together. I feel relaxed and happy when I spend time here, and the people we’ve shown around our new house have all pointed out how it reflects my personality. I never know how to respond to this. It’s a toss-up between “Yay, mission accomplished!” and “Oh, but it’s so messy in here right now!”

My office occupies the smallest bedroom – small enough to be cosy but still big enough for everything I need to fit inside. I painted it two different shades of green – a warm, inspiring colour – and put up shelves to house my books. It’s one of the most cluttered rooms in the house and never stays immaculate for long. At the moment my desk is covered in stuff – my laptop, myriad Post-Its, a hole punch, Roget’s Thesaurus, several Lego mini-figures, a copy of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, a framed photo of my sister, a pot full of pens, index cards … you get the idea!

I set up my desk so I could look out of the window while mulling over ideas. I love to watch the cat that sometimes appears in the window of the house opposite, and the changing weather patterns – we recently had snow in the UK, and this morning the room was full of glorious sunlight, which turned the green walls golden. It was amazing.

I write as often as I can, fitting it in around my part-time job and dabbling in web design. When I’m at home alone, writing is never very far from my mind – I’ve learned to listen when my muse calls, and to try and wake it up when it’s silent. 

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Rosanna Silverlight

Rosanna Silverlight immersing herself in her dream of writing

I always need a good drink before I begin – I never feel entirely happy sitting down without a cup of tea (a writer cliché, I know, but it’s true!) or coffee. And while I can sometimes just open up the laptop and start from a blank page, I often fall prey to the charms of the internet before productivity gets under way. A certain amount of determination can cure this, but so can total immersion in a project – which is what I’m going through right now with my novel-in-progress, an epic fantasy I’m calling Swordslave

It’s about people – the Swordslaves of the title – who are half human, half other. They’re powerful, but most of them don’t get to use that power – they’re enslaved and forced to take a drug, which suppresses the ‘taint’ of otherness in their blood. A young Swordslave gets caught up in a power struggle between two kings with different ideas on how to handle her kind, and she has to decide what freedom means to her and how far she’s willing to go to fight for it. 

Ultimately, Swordslave is about liberty, and the many guises oppression can take. I’ve finished the first draft and have begun revisions, but I’d also like to write more short stories in 2013, submit them to competitions, anthologies and literary journals, and maybe even e-publish an anthology.

I believe in looking for opportunities to write whenever and wherever I can – especially as I’m a long way off writing full time – but it’s a powerful thing to know that there is a place where I can immerse myself in my dream and allow it room to breathe. 

My number one tip for creating your own writing space? Train yourself so you can write anywhere. Then, when you get the opportunity to make a space your own, treat it as another tool to hone your craft.

Create an environment that sharpens you. And don’t stop writing.


Bio: Rosanna Silverlight spent her childhood daydreaming, reading stories about magic and ponies and later on, writing stories about magic and ponies. 

She still adores reading and still writes – though not so much about ponies these days. She graduated from Lancaster University in 2007 with a joint honours degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, and set about learning the hard way that being a daydreamer is fine, as long as you don’t expect too much. If you do, you’d best pay attention and do something about making those dreams come true. No one else will do it for you!

After a year spent in Spain and Portugal teaching English, she moved back to the UK and settled with her wonderful, imaginative boyfriend in Somerset, a beautiful part of the UK well known for its cider and Glastonbury Tor. 

Rosanna currently divides her time between working a part-time job and writing at home. She writes short stories – some of which you can read on her website [] – and is working on her first novel, Swordslave


Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Barbara Froman

Creative Spaces


Assorted family photos and a poster-sized framed print of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Music, Pink and Blue #2, painted in 1918.

Classical music from all periods. Today’s selection: Prokofiev’s 3nd Piano Concerto, 1st movement.

I’ve learned to rely on the smiles of those I love for encouragement, and the sights and sounds of other artists as inspiration.  I’ve grown used to the comfort of my soft brown chair, its throw pillows at the small of my back, its hand-tatted antimacassars—elegant lessons on the value of diligence and patience—behind my neck and under my forearms. And I’ve become spoiled by how rapidly and simply lightweight technology saves and edits and puts a wealth of sources at my disposal.  I’m always amazed by how helpless I feel when the electricity goes down—which it does far too often—and all that remains is the glare of night on glass, and the sound of my own breath, At those times, I think wistfully back to my early childhood, when the only encouragement I needed was an idea and the only inspiration, a chunk of free time, As long as I had pencils and paper, and a private space in which to work, I was set.

Because we lived in a small two-bedroom apartment in New York, that space was the bathroom. I didn’t care that its furnishings were cold, its decor spartan, its scent antiseptic; it had what I wanted most: privacy. And so, I would take the tools of my trade inside, and lock the door behind me.

The first time I did this, my mother, who deemed any trip to the bathroom longer than three minutes a sign of trouble, started knocking on the door and yelling, “Are you all right? What are you doing?”

Of course, I told her.  But I might not have, had I known she would share my choice of workspace so proudly:  “And this is my daughter, who writes in the bathroom. Read the nice people a poem, honey.”

Eventually we moved into a bigger apartment where I had a room to myself, without porcelain fixtures. I furnished it with a desk—although I quickly discovered that I preferred the comfort of my bed for creative work, a floor-to-ceiling bookcase (which my brother and I built and painted), a record player, and prints I picked up at the Metropolitan and Guggenheim museum stores.  And I wrote.

Creative Spaces guest post by Barbara Froman

Barbara Froman inspired by music

These days, I feel very lucky to have a room of my own, where I can put tchotchkes, photographs, prints, and animation cels on every surface and wall. I wrote class lectures and screenplays here, and started my blog, Beyond Willow Bend.

This is where I finished my novel, Shadows and Ghosts, and composed a set of pieces for piano duet entitled, Six Variations in Search of a Theme.  And now, I’m digging into an historical novel about two pianists. I have a feeling it’s going to be a difficult book to write, much more so than my last, because of the research involved. But, as long as I can sit in my soft chair, look into the eyes of those I love, see O’Keeffe’s swirl of feminine possibilities, and feel my pulse and spirit quicken to Prokofiev, or Brahms, or Ravel, or Bach, I know the words will be there.

Creative Spaces Guest Post by Barbara FromanBio: Barbara Froman received early training in music at the Juilliard School’s preparatory division before going on to earn degrees in Music Composition at Ithaca College and Northwestern University. She was the Director of Mundelein College’s Creative Writing Program, taught Literature and Creative Writing at National-Louis University, and acted as a consultant to National’s graduate program in Written Communication. She is the author of published essays and poetry, is the recipient of the Serving House Books/Fairleigh Dickinson University First Book Award in Prose, for Shadows and Ghosts, has placed in screenwriting competitions, and was nominated for a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Fringe. She continues to compose music as well as work on a number of new writing projects. Visit her website at: 

Reach Writing Goals in 15 Minutes or Less

Did you set New Year’s resolutions this year? Are they the same as your unmet resolutions for last year? If so, please don’t get uncomfortable. I’m not pointing fingers. In fact, I too, have unresolved goals carried over from last year and the year before. While I write goals for each area of my life, the one we’ll delve into here concerns writing goals. And to be more specific, writing productivity.

Productivity is the amount of ‘product’ we produce each year. In our case, the product is the number of pages we write. It’s apparent that the more pages you write, the more productive you are. And so when we set goals to write a book in one year, write 10 short stories, or create a chapbook of poems; we are making a resolution to a big picture goal that taunts and eludes many of us all year long. Rather than feeling like we’re reaching our goal when we write one page or a line in a poem, we end up feeling like we’ll never get anywhere close to accomplishing that big goal. That kind of unproductive thinking leads to troubles like writers block and, well… unproductivity.

I’m proposing that you break down that big picture goal into doable steps.

Instead of resolving to write that big thriller novel, how about resolving to write two pages a day, five days a week. That kind of productivity would add up to 520 pages of draft material. But let’s be honest, we all know writers need days off for vacations, family matters, holidays, sick time, and so on. Here’s the thing, even allowing for all these life interruptions, you can still write a draft of a 400 page novel (and edit it too) in one year at the measly page count of two pages a day. Do the math. (two pages a day, five days a week, for 40 weeks equals 400 pages and allows for twelve weeks worth of interruptions throughout the year, and if you occasionally write three pages, you can make up for it). You don’t even have to sit at your desk for several hours to get those two pages.

Reach Writing Goals in 15 Minutes or Less

If page count scares you off, try time increments.

Try really small time increments like 15 minutes. Surely even on your busiest days you can allot 15 minutes to writing. Those 15 minutes really can help you finish a sizable project. Before you scoff, let me say that many of my newsletter articles were written in 15-minute increments. I obviously may need three or four such sessions to complete the draft but I get it written. In 15 minutes I can also write an outline for one of my Blog Talk Radio show episodes, generate bullet points for a chapter of a non-fiction book, create scene notes for a fiction story, or plot a dialogue scene between two characters. If I waited until I had an hour to sit and write I would never produce any work to submit.

I’m like you. I have a dozen commitments. I don’t have time to write either. But I can get thoughts down, a few sentences, flesh out an idea, etc. At the end of a day or two I have a draft I can work with. Another cool thing is that sometimes when I intend to write for just ten minutes to scribble down an idea I’ll look up and discover that 30 or 40 minutes have passed and I didn’t notice because the writing was flowing effortlessly.

And I’m not the only writer who confesses to squeezing in my writing to whatever minutes I have available.

Romantic suspense author, Stephanie Bond, consistently writes several novels a year and teaches writers about page production. She says she’ll write on her Alpha Smart keyboard throughout the day whenever she has a few minutes. At the end of the year she’ll have an extra book done that she wouldn’t have produced if she didn’t write during those small blocks of 10 to 15 minutes.

Award-winning romance author April Kilhstrom, the first author I heard talk about the ‘Book In A Week’ method of writing, insists she writes whenever she gets a moment and that those ten minute and fifteen minute bursts throughout the day (in addition to the few hours she spends daily at the computer) result in a completed draft of a book in about a week. She uses every available free moment to continue writing and at the end of the day she types those notes into her computer. Once she has that draft, she’ll take a few weeks to edit it before submitting the manuscript to her editor.

Bill Belew, the former editor of WritersTalk, says he writes a blog post in about 15 minutes. He does this everyday, for several blogs. And look at his annual accomplishments, not only in posts written but his increasing readership. In one year he produced something like 5,000 posts and had 20 million views of his blog posts!

Of these three writers above, how many of them would you guess reached their writing goals last year? If you said all three, that’s my guess too. Of the writing goals I accomplished last year, I achieved them by being willing to write in small chunks of time rather than waiting until I had the afternoon to write. Of course I relished those afternoons too, but I’ve found that writing steadily—even 15 minutes at a time—leads to increased productivity. And a productive writer produces pages written. That’s the product we’re trying to sell right? No pages, no product. At some point we do need time for deeper thought but that’s no reason to let minutes go by that could have added to your productivity. See if this practice helps you reach your writing goals. I believe every minute you spend towards pursuing your dreams is a minute well spent.