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Writing Motivation: The Easel and the Monitor

by Kristen Dorsey

I’ve listened to countless authors discuss their writing space, habits, and rituals, but thus far, my life is too hectic and my writing practice too new to formulate a routine that sticks.

I’m blessed to share a lovely house with a roommate who is also my best friend, but it is a tad crowded. My “writing suite” is in the corner of my bedroom, which faces north, giving it an uninviting, cave-like vibe. Honestly, it’s a pretty good space: a corner computer desk with two big monitors, my laptop, and a long, rectangular table to one side. However, I usually groan when I anticipate time at that messy, paper-and-book-strewn corner with its black-hole monitors.

That desk does not call to me with the siren song of my easel.

My art studio is in the garage because I’m a crazy messy artist, and I like the freedom to walk away without needing to neaten things. I have an art table and easel on one side, beside a tall bookcase that holds my paints, paper, and framing materials. I use the opposite side as space for the natural objects, tools, and workbench necessary for building my three-dimensional wall hangings. Those 3D pieces are made from items I find while kayaking and hiking: driftwood, branches, bones, snakeskins, shells, dried plants, wasp nests—messy stuff.

This garage space is equally dark and often too hot or cold, and yet assigning myself studio time is my carrot on a stick. Not so with writing, although I hope that as my skill and accomplishment grow in this new creative arena, I will approach my computer with equal enthusiasm.

Once I’ve begun poking at my keyboard, and the muse has arrived to drape her arm across my shoulders, I can melt into the writing zone. But how to get motivated to “put butt in chair” as the late, great author and musician Philip Gerard instructed?

For me, the writing has to start before my behind hits the chair.

When I paint or sculpt, an image emerges in my inner vision and won’t leave until I bring it into the material realm, either by painting it on watercolor paper or as a wall sculpture. A similar process helps motivate me to write.

On writing days, I identify the piece to be written and begin drafting it in my head. I hunt for perfect words, craft descriptive sentences, and develop the narrative arc. I do this during morning yoga, walking the dog, and showering. Soon enough, I’m hurrying to my laptop to get the words down before they get lost in the chaos of my brain.

I’m grateful for my years of experience developing the creative process for my studio art, and I’ll lean on that until I find balance and traction as a writer.

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