Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Claim Your Space

Lately, I've had kind of a weird problem.

I haven't been able to write in my office.

It's not as if I don't love my office.  I do.  It was built specially for me, after we turned our former office into a nursery when we had our baby last year.  Although my husband uses it too, it's primarily mine.  And so I've filled it with the things I like to have around me when I write - candles, talismans, the Lady of Shalott print on the wall, favorite books for inspiration, research books within arm's reach, and the old 1917 L.C. Smith & Brothers typewriter that I bought at a yard sale for $3.

Years ago, when I first started writing seriously, I worked for a huge investment bank as an administrative assistant on a trading desk.  There were people screaming trades over my head, phones blaring, televisions flashing...and yet, I was somehow able to put on mental blinders and write despite the constant chaos.  I wrote half of my first novel while working there.  I prided myself on being able to write anywhere.

And yet, for the past few weeks, my Muse has become very resistant whenever I pass through the doorway to my lovely office.  She turns me into an antsy six-year-old child who can't sit still in her chair and restlessly looks for some distraction - any distraction -  to keep me from writing.

And so I've had to escape to various LA-area coffeeshops in order to get anything done.  (Favorites: multiple locations of Le Pain Quotidien, Solar de Cahuenga in Hollywood, and Simply Coffee in Burbank.)  What's so bad about writing in a coffeeshop, you might ask.  Well, nothing, really.  Except it gets expensive; they don't let you sit there for free.  Also, you can't sneak out to a coffeeshop after you put your baby to bed at night.  And why should I have to, when I have a perfectly good office right here in my house?

Seriously...what is wrong with my Muse?

I don't know.  I'm sort of content to let it go for a while, figuring that I'll eventually find my way back to my office.  But one of my other writing friends, who teaches writing & creativity workshops, has become fascinated with this problem.  She's been asking me every day whether I've written in the office, and given me all sorts of advice on how to trick my Muse into getting back in there.  It's like her Muse is my Muse's therapist.

As writers, we know how important it is to claim your space.  Even at a coffeeshop, we need a good table where there's no glare on our computer screen and far enough away from the counter traffic and anyone who looks even remotely chatty.  We all  have our rituals that we perform before we face the page - lighting a candle, reciting an affirmation, holding a talisman, or praying to the writing gods to please please please let me finish this freaking chapter.  These rituals are important.  They are as sacred as crossing yourself when you enter a church, praying before a meal, or chanting Om Namah Shivaya during meditation.  After all, treating your space seriously means treating your writing seriously.

So in an effort to make my space more sacred, I cleaned the office the other day.  Not a big purge or anything, just a good thorough dusting and straightening up.  I'm happy to report that I'm writing this blog post while sitting at my desk.  But I can feel my Muse squirming in her chair...

Where do you write?  What are some of your favorite writing rituals?  And is there a place where you absolutely can't get any writing done?

Nicole Maggi lives in Los Angeles, CA with her amazingly supportive husband and is a mom to one-year-old Emilia.  She worked as an actress for many years in New York before the lure of sunshine and avocados enticed her to the West Coast.  Though she still acts, her focus now is on her writing.  In her very limited spare time, Nicole enjoys yoga, hiking, baking (and eating what she bakes), reading, reading, watching reruns of LOST, and more reading.  Please follow her on Twitter so she can reach her goal of 1000 followers by her book's release date!


  1. Hey! You're writing in your office! Congrats... My Muse must be a therapist because helping others write is her favorite hobby. In fact, I think sometimes she likes it almost more than helping _me_ write. Anyhoo....I'm glad if her efforts helped in any way. (Tomorrow, be sure to write _something_ in your office again...)

  2. P.S. Em says we're aMusing her... *coff*

  3. Haha, Barb!

    Barb is the friend whom I reference above. Check out her wonderful website & blog that's full of helpful & inspiring tips for writers: