This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Alexis M. Smith is an author living in Portland, Oregon. Her debut novel, Glaciers, is published on 4th July. Today, she tells Novelicious all about her writing room!
I live in a tiny two-bedroom flat with my 5-year-old son and two cats. It overlooks the Willamette River, Forest Park (an urban wilderness area that spans over thirty miles), and the St. Johns Bridge (Portland, Oregon’s most impressive bridge, with its Gothic arches and spires). I adore our little home, but I had trouble making a writing space for myself for some time. After three years of arranging and rearranging the living room, I have finally created a writing nook for myself in one corner, near the sliding doors to the balcony.
Everything in the space is important to me. The desk belonged to my great-grandmother, Dorothy; the pictures on the walls all come from, or remind me of, Alaska, where I spent the first, most formative, years of my life. In some ways, the objects in my writing space are there to honor the stories I tell, and the process of telling them. I find robins’ eggs in the woods or agates on the beach and place them on the shelf, as a reminder of the natural world, which always has an important place in my stories. There are small toys there—figures of cats (we’re cat people) and some wooden tractors—that represent my son, because he is part of the space, too. I write for him as much as for myself, now, because I realize that to support him I need to take myself as seriously as a writer as I ever did in my other jobs.
I find that my writing space is more important symbolically than physically. Once I’m in the thick of the story, I hardly notice what’s around me. But when I’m not writing, when I’m picking up toys off the floor, say, or folding laundry, I look over and see my writing space—ready and waiting—and I know that I will always have a place and a reason to write.
In the morning, after taking my son to preschool, I sit down at my desk and re-situate myself in the book I’m working on. It takes mental effort, sometimes, to go there, but sitting in the writing space, like punching a timecard, signals that it is time to get to work. Later, I may migrate around the room as I write, taking my laptop with me. I may go out onto the balcony to enjoy the breeze and our potted herbs and flowers. I may plop down on the floor on a pillow, using an ottoman for a desk. Roaming is natural—bodies need to move—but sitting down in the writing space full of reminders of why I write, makes a sort of ritual out of entering and re-entering the story.