A Room of One’s Own


This is a photo of Virginia Woolf’s office. Virginia Woolf speaks in her essay/lecture A Room of One’s Own about the necessity for money and a room of your own as a woman and a writer. I have observed that many people agree with her.

I’ve been reading a book on writing by N. M. Kelby called The Constant Art of Being a Writer. She talks in the second chapter about setting up your practice as a writer and how setting up your office is so important. She also talks about the importance of writing in the same place at the same time every day. A writer should put in business hours just like any other profession.

There was a point in time when I agreed with this opinion wholeheartedly. Not anymore. Mind you, every writer is different and for some people a strict writing schedule and location is imperative to their success every day. But I berated myself for not sticking to this rigid schedule and inevitably didn’t work at all.

Julie Cameron is on the other side of the fence on this issue. She believes that setting too tight a rein on your creative life hinders that flow of ideas. She speaks of artists not tieing themselves to such rituals because she worries that they will only be able to work under those specific conditions. What do you do when life gets in the way.

Julia does talk about using a gentle schedule called a grid to map out time for your creative priorities. I have learned that as a writer, myself, I must have some more freedom in order to work well. For instance my grid shows twenty minutes a day of writing time, but I don’t say when that twenty minutes has to happen. Or even where those twenty minutes happen. Last week I wrote for ten minutes at school during my lunch and for ten minutes in the car while I waited to meet a friend for dinner. The important thing was that I wrote. If I had set up my practice to only write at my desk in my room, that day’s writing wouldn’t have happened.

I think Virginia Woolf was onto something about having a room of one’s own, but I’m not sure I believe that room has to be a physical location per say. Maybe it could be a state of mind – a committment to guarding your own time and making writing a priority. I’ve decided that that’s all I need to set up my practice.

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