My Writing Space: Cheryl Clark

“My Writing Space” is a series about writers and the places in which they write. To contribute, send a photo of your writing space along with a paragraph or two describing it and its influence on your writing to beaver[at] with the subject line “My Writing Space.”


Several years ago, I staked out a space for writing on one corner of a wide windowsill in our basement bedroom.  It was a necessity.  Our house is small, and noise travels easily around the main level. With two doors and a floor between me and the usual distractions, I’d have a chance at focus in the new space. I bought a small office chair from a clearance sale and flanked it with a nightstand and end table that had been languishing in storage since they were removed from regular service. Now, they were stocked with reference books, paper and pens—all the things I use in the course of my writing. No computer. Almost everything I write goes through the pen and paper stage first, and transcribing it to electronic form is a step apart from the writing. Edits still happen in that process, but the composition is a more old-fashioned ritual for me.

We’ve all seen the combination exercise bicycle and coat rack. I didn’t want that to happen to my writing. For that space to work, it had to be ready to access at any moment; so, I told my husband that this was mine. It was not to be piled up with the clutter that tends to materialize on other empty surfaces. The chair is currently full of canvas, the tent I camped in last March. This is entirely my fault, though it’s only really been there for a month or two. It’s  also not as big a deal as it may seem. I’m still writing, on the couch, in the bed, on the porch, or on the move. Despite the declaration, my writing space was never going to be the only space where I would write. For me, writing happens wherever the mood strikes me, in notebooks if they’re handy, but often on scraps of paper. I’ll write on the train or jot down bits of dialogue at my desk at work, and some of my best work gets done outdoors at a campsite or picnic table. Nothing gets my mind going on the story of the moment like a long walk on a trail.

So, my official writing space is often my official notebook storage space, but it serves another function as well. I know that at any time, I can close that bedroom door, evict my tent, and take my place at the windowsill. There is no longer any excuse when the house is noisy or full of distractions. Writing can happen any time I’m ready to write, and my environment can no longer delay that. The freedom that having a dedicated space represents is invaluable in turning the dream of a writing life into a reality.