11 January 2014

The Importance of Space

To start off this new year, I welcome my first ever guest blogger, fellow author Kate Bitters. I've been reading her debut novel Elmer Left. and thoroughly enjoying it. Being something of an old man myself, I could relate....

Here is some advice from Kate about a problem many writers face: space. 

The beginning of last month was chaos.  Boxes everywhere, an overly big (and accident prone) moving truck, piles of clothes and shoes on the floor, a huge gap in my room where a bed should have been...

Moving is tough.  Any kind of environmental change is tough.  When we are surrounded by disorder and newness, it is easy to lose ourselves in the offending space.  It is easy to become discouraged.  Earlier this month, I remember sitting next to a mound of clothing, sorting through it sock-by-sock, and thinking, "Good grief, when did I accumulate so many tank tops?"

But these steps are necessary--the sorting, the putting away, the ordering of toiletries, the creation of a system.  Without these steps, things get shoved aside for later and continue to linger in the backs of our minds.

The very root of Feng Shui (and if you don't buy into any other part of the concept, buy into this...) is the creation of order and the removal of clutter.  The idea is that human beings function best in a clean, ordered, and uncomplicated environment.  Our bodies relax; our minds are put at ease; we are free to concentrate on things outside of our space--higher purposes.  Like writing.

Unfortunately, my writing took a blow this past November (ironic, since it is national novel-writing month).  I had trouble focusing in my new space.  I struggled to carve out an area in which I could write and work and concentrate.  But eventually, it did happen.  I built a desk; I bought a chair; I found homes for all my dishes, sweaters, hair products.  The beast with walls and floors and ceiling began to feel less like a container and more like a home.

My Office
I found my mind relaxing, and then it went beyond relaxation: it started to think creatively again.  I started to see the world in colors and textures, instead of in a Sin City-type black and white (slightly evil, extremely jarring).  My mind was back; my motivation was back.  Words began to flow.  And I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of space.  It might seem like an insignificant factor in our daily productivity and creativity, but our surroundings can have an eerie kind of power over us.  Don't let it take the reins.  It is up to you to tame your space, make it your own, and make it work for you.

Happy organizing ;)

Kate Bitters is a novelist, editor, and ghost writer.  She is putting the finishing touches on her second novel, Ten Thousand Lines, and working on a third.  She resides in the magical and frosty city of Minneapolis, MN.

Twitter: @katebitters

Meanwhile, in a blog far, far away, Kate will be hosting my piece about the names we give story characters: fightforthewrite.blogspot.com. I shall return here forthwith.

(C) Copyright 2010-2014 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.


  1. Thanks for posting, Stephen! Hopefully this post will motivate other writers out there to create a meaningful space for themselves. Happy writing! -Kate

  2. You are very welcome, Kate!

    Anytime I change locations, it takes a while to feel comfortable enough in the new environs to be able to write again.