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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Workspace of a Rootless Writer: Guest Hijacker Dana Sitar

          Dana Sitar has become a regular contributor to my memoir blog Wrote By Rote.   In fact you can find her writing at many places throughout the web including her own blog DIY Writer.   Be sure to subscribe to her DIY Writing Newsletter for helpful information for all writers.   Dana joins our line-up of hijackers with a look at a topic that will interest most of us. 

The Workspace of a Rootless Writer 
by Dana Sitar

One of the best ways to center yourself for a productive writing session is to create a writing space that guards you from distractions. This becomes a huge challenge when you’re constantly traveling and moving around. In the past year and a half, I've gone from  living with three male roommates in Madison, Wisconsin, to a shared apartment in Berkeley to hotel rooms and friends' couches across the country, to my mom's basement in central Wisconsin -- so I understand how difficult finding solitude for writing can be!

But you CAN do it wherever you are.

Creating your writing space

Without a private office to work in, I have to set up a workspace wherever I am each day. I need to clear a space for my computer, notebooks, and calendar across a desk, table, couch, bed, or floor. I pour a glass of water and a brew a pot of coffee. I pull open a window to let in fresh air. I put on my headphones to drown out surrounding noises and signify to whoever’s around that I'm not to be disturbed. It's a small routine every morning, and when I end up in a new place, it's a whole new routine.

Taking care of these little things before you get started working each day -- or finding a space that you can set up and keep for your writing -- will most certainly increase your comfort and concentration, and as a result, your productivity.

Embracing the space around you

The hardest time for me to focus is when I’m in Madison, Wisconsin, in the middle of the comedy scene and a household of guys who are always there. This is when I’m couch-surfing and enduring late nights and rowdy friends. My writing space is either a living room couch surrounded by television and joke-writing, or a cafe downtown whose atmosphere is out of my control. Neither is ideal, but I have work to do when I’m on the road, so I have to open my computer, pop in my headphones, and write.

My boyfriend is a touring stand-up comedian, and I take advantage of the freedom of being a writer to travel with him around the country. I have had to teach myself to be okay with the constant "unsettled" feeling that comes with a move to a new place or a visit to somewhere new. This will be our life for... months? Years? For...ever? I used to need a few days to shake the feeling -- a few days of not getting any work done, because I couldn't make myself comfortable in new surroundings. But I don't have that luxury anymore. We move around too much to get settled anywhere, so I just have to learn to work in an unsettled state of mind.

What does YOUR writing space look like?

No matter where you live, or what your situation is, you'll likely face the same challenge early in your writing career or starting your own business.  I don’t think so many writers live such a rootless an existence, but even if you have a steady home base and a family who respects your work schedule, writing time can be fraught with discomfort, worry, or distractions. Don't succomb to them! Wherever you find yourself, create a writing space and time that takes you away from those distractions -- or, train yourself to work with them.

How can your writing space complement your work?    In what ways have you had to adapt your writing life with the life that surrounds you?

About the Author

Dana Sitar is a freelance journalist and indie author. She shares writing tips and anecdotes for writers and other dreamers through her blog and DIY Writing Newsletter. Follow her on Twitter @danasitar.

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  1. Thanks so much for dropping in and posting this for us Dana. This has made me realise that where we're writing is what helps add quality to what we're writing, this has definitely given me something to think about, great post, this is why I love Lee's hijacking series.

  2. My writing space is at my desk, usually with music blaring and the TV on. (TV is muted of course - otherwise that would be silly.)

  3. Thanks Dana for this great post and for Lee hosting you. as I write I always have music playing...don't like the silence.


  4. My writing space is a desk, quiet room, dog sleeping at my feet. Unfortunately, I share this desk with my hubby so I can't leave my mess spread across it as I would like to.

  5. I don't really have an ideal writing space; I just make the best out of whatever I have. Interestingly enough, even though I need quiet when I write, I'm getting pretty good at writing out in public while waiting on my kids during activities. The ambient noise creates kind of a static hum which is a kind of silence in its own right.

  6. I'm grateful my husband and I each have our own offices. And my desk is HUGE.

  7. I will never complain about distractions and noises again after reading your post, Dana. Lee, thanks for having Dana here to show me exactly how lucky I am to have a room of my own and a good set of ear plugs. :D

  8. Great post! I do much better if I'm locked in my dungeon, phone and doorbell off, music playing, desk cleared of miscellaneous junk that has nothing to do with my writing, and a window open. Sometimes it's hard to make that happen, but it's important.

    ~And a hello to Lee!

  9. Dana, thank you for another great guest post. And thanks to those who took time to comment. And hello, Shannon.


  10. Thanks again for having me, Lee! It's great to see everyone reflecting on their spaces and how it affects their writing. It's also nice to learn what everyone's space is like -- I've forgotten the solace that comes with having a room of one's own to write in!


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