Balls of Steel: Writing Space + Writing Routine = Progress

The Dallas Screenwriters Association recently asked me about my writing space. I thought it only fitting to share my dirty laundry with my readers as well.

My writer Dad was always a 60 Minutes fan, specifically, Andy Rooney. In fact, being exposed as a child to the disaster, which was Andy Rooney’s desk, has enabled me to live in writer chaos without any remorse. I’m not one of those writers who wants or needs everything neat and orderly.

I mean, what’s the point? Haven’t you ever noticed how papers eventually bulge from files? Just looking at them suffocates me. The protruding sheets symbolize a choking of creativity for the purpose of limitations, boundaries, and order.

There is no such thing as order in creating fiction. Funk that.

writing space

I admit, for my day job as Editor of Script Magazine, I am the Stepford Wife Editor, properly filed and organized. But for my own writing, not so much. My screenplays, research, and even snacks scatter my office desk. Yes, there are a few bottles of liquor behind those laptops. It’s 5:00PM somewhere.

And Dubble Bubble. That’s my secret weapon. Did you know it is scientifically proven that chewing gums helps your mind focus? Tell that to your teacher. You’re welcome.

I am so fascinated about the spaces in which writers work that one day, three or four years ago, I asked people to tweet out pictures of their desks. Man, it was marvelous. Most of the writers who struck me as the most creative, had the messiest desks. All hail Andy Rooney!

My assistant editor, or as people on Twitter know him, #pervdog

My assistant editor, or as people on Twitter know him, #pervdog

So, here’s my desk. Cluttered, as always, but actually a tad neater than it usually is. That’s probably because I’ve been spending most of my time at my secondary writing location, which is simply the big leopard chair in the family room. Why would I do that, you ask? My pets. They like to climb all over me while I write, and frankly, it gets a little lonely working from home, so I welcome the company.

As Editor, I have close to 60 contributors. That doesn’t always allow much time for my own writing. Unknown Screenwriter recommended I sit my ass in the chair first thing in the morning, before life takes hold, and write for an hour and then again for another hour in the afternoon. He’s a brilliant man, for in this past month, I’ve only missed one day of writing.

I made a promise to myself that I would carve out at least two hours a day for me, not for the magazine. In that time, I’ve written half a novel and rewritten a script for my producers. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in a dedicated amount of time, if you focus.

The trick is finding exactly the right time of day to write. I’m a disease to pleaser, feeling I had to accomplish all of my day-job work, mom duties, and Super Hero bedazzled-cape making before I would allow myself writing time. By then, I was exhausted, and all I wanted was a margarita and to curl up with my cats. Clearly, this routine was getting more cat hair on my sweaters than words on the page.

jvbandcats

Believe it or not, there’s a third cat behind the bubble.

My new writing routine rocks. Not only am I getting pages written, I’m simply a happier person. When Mama’s happy, everyone is happy.

Andy Rooney once said in a Newsday interview, “I just have the feeling that I don’t owe anybody anything except writing as well as I am able.” I tried using that excuse when my teenagers ran out of clean clothes but only got the stinkeye in return. Hey, it sounded good at the time.

If you want to join me in writing sprints, I usually call them out on Twitter (@jeannevb) at 8AM EST and 3PM EST. Or you can figure out what the best time of day is for you, and make a promise that you’ll guard those hours for yourself, for your passion, and for your dreams.

Bottom-line, if you don’t champion for your writing, who will?

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2 thoughts on “Balls of Steel: Writing Space + Writing Routine = Progress

  1. Leona Heraty

    Loved the article, Jeanne, and especially the photos of your dog and cut kitties, aka, the Assistant Editors, right? My cats usually sit by my computer too, while I’m writing, and they keep me going, and they love being Assistant Editors, because they have a strong work ethic, ha! ha! God bless all of our wonderful pets! 🙂

    Keep on writing and thanks for all you do to keep us writing going everyday. Yes, I agree with your friend who said to carve out time in the morning and afternoon to write. And, I agree with you and Andy Rooney, who needs a perfectly organized desk? Not me, that’s for sure! I like things a little messy! 🙂

  2. Gordon

    Hi Jeanne,
    Love the cats – its obvious they are in control. Is this your “save the cat” moment?
    Just about two years ago I decided to stick to a schedule of 15 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. I normally go over the weekly allotment, but since I began to take my writing as a professional venture I have been much more productive.

    I read somewhere that in order to make and idea become something real, one must first write it down, which makes it a goal. Then schedule the goal, which makes it actionable. Then fulfill the schedule, which makes it an accomplishment.

    Gordon

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