Monday, July 1, 2013

A Place to Write

By Laurie Epps

"Writing is the act of burning through the fog of your mind."
~ Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

 This week we are going to talk about preparing a place to work on your craft, not just a home office as I am erecting, but a space in your mind to get settled, and get to the craft of writing. If you'd like to follow along, you can buy your own copy of the book by clicking on this link for Writing Down the Bones

Make Statements and Answer Questions
pp. 93-94

Women when they speak use qualifiers. These are little sneaky words that undermine what we are trying to say. Words like perhaps, and maybe that sometimes put doubt into the mind of your readers. You should learn not only to avoid this with your writing, but also with your life. So instead say boldly, "Yes I'll go," or "No, I don't like that," or "Yes, I'll marry you," or "No, I won't date you." Say these things with your own authority and mean it.

I have a great deal of difficulty saying no to people. As a middle-aged single parent, it's getting easier. But there were many years when this was next to impossible for me to do. Have you ever had a pattern of weakening your writing by using too many qualifiers? How did you stop doing that? Please share with us below.

The Action of a Sentence
pp. 95-97

This is an exercise. Fold your paper in half lengthwise. Write a random list of nouns on one side of the paper, and then think of a career and write the verbs that would go with actions of that career. (The author chose to use the career of a chef so the verbs were things like marinade and saute.) Then combine words from the first list with words from the second list to make unique sentence combinations.

Writing in Restaurants
pp. 98-102

Writing in restaurants is a true art form. In America, the endeavor to write at all can be deemed exotic. It doesn't seem normal and acceptable. The waitress wants to turn her table. More customers = More tips. Make sure you tip your waitress very well if you write in a restaurant.

Since I didn't have my own wifi until roughly two weeks ago, I can attest to the fact that finding the right restaurant can be tricky. Not too noisy, or you get distracted. Not too quiet, or you'll want to go to sleep. Not too dirty, or you'll worry about your laptop or other belongings. Not too fancy or expensive or you'll feel like you are in the way. This only begins to talk about when you are there.

There is also an art form to finding when to go. Avoid the rush times, so the waitress won't be annoyed with you taking up one of her booths for extended periods of time. Panera Bread, for example, kicks you off the wifi access after 30 minutes of usage during peak hours. So it is important to learn the rules when selecting your favorite restaurants to work in.

But changing up where you write from time to time does help facilitate the creative process. Your dirty dishes, laundry, and the buzz of your refrigerator won't follow you there. It can be liberating when you hit a drought of creativity.

Where is your favorite restaurant to work in? Please share with us where you go, and why it's so ubiquitous for writing.

The Writing Studio
pp. 103-104

Part of taking yourself seriously is creating a place of your own to work on your craft. For me, this has become a corner of my living room, but I do dream of having a room to call my own. "A writer cave" is recommended for all of us as writers. A place to retreat to and call our own to open up the crevices of our mind.

Goldberg cautions us to not become too caught up in the decorating aspect of creating our workspace. Although decorating is another form of creativity, don't let it impede or inhibit you from tackling the art of your craft which is writing.

Have any of you created your own workspace at home? Where do you work, and what does it look like? Please share with us below. 

Laurie Epps is a non-fiction author, essayist, editor, and poet living in Anderson, South Carolina. A seeker of beauty, her is dream is to travel the world one day and tell the many stories of those she meets. To read more of Laurie's stories come back here for her column about Poetry on Thursdays, or follow her Tuesday column dedicated to writing on:


  1. Just wanted to let you know that you are beautiful. I met you here through the Write Conversation. Thank you for writing. I just wanted to encourage you. I don't know why. But please take it for what it is...just a word of encouragement.

  2. Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm so excited to get my first comment on my own blog! I have five regular columns a week, plus I will also occasionally write for others. I hope you have a happy fourth of July, and that this finds you well.

    Laurie Epps


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