Writing is a creative act that cannot take place in a vacuum; not only do writers need inspiration, but they need space in which to develop their ideas and share their message(s). I’ve done some thinking on “space” myself, and I’d like to share my impressions. I hope to inspire you in your writing to think more about “space” and what that might mean, if anything, to you.
Oftentimes writers designate a specific physical space in which to do their work. I’m sure many famous authors have spoken about this, detailing their preferred spaces, perhaps with mixed emotions. These places of creative development house the messy, frustrating, fulfilling, and countless emotions found amidst the writing process. Much like the way a kitchen embodies a proving ground for a chef, a writer’s space can be many things; most of all it must be encouraging and welcoming to the writer themselves.
Filling the space of a page can be challenging. Writer’s block anyone? From the most seasoned to the greenest of writers, the blank space of a page (electronic or physical), can seem both daunting and inviting. A painter or sculptor comes to their medium with a similar purpose of creativity, but for writers, there is a more defining element. For example, the general public today has, at one time or another, composed an email. Most working people know that an email to your spouse is quite different in tone than one to your boss or a colleague. Likewise, telling a story, as a so-called “writer,” takes much more than conveying a string of events. Let’s compare it to a comedic routine; it’s not from the joke itself that humor springs forth, but rather how the comedian tells it. How a writer fills the space of a page—that’s what defines an author.
The Span of a Scene
Space can be a work of imagination; it can even mean a different place in time and space, but we won’t get too complicated with talking about dimensions and alternate realities. Suffice it to say that stories must take place, that is, actually take a place as their setting upon which conflict can occur. Cinderella took place in a time where royalty reigned but Fairy Godmothers ruled over affairs of true love and happiness. Multitudes of wild west dramas have paraded and thundered across the American plains. Secret spies trek the globe, searching out evil and saving humanity. Even the tiniest creatures below our feet play out their own struggles. Our tales must happen within the span of a place and time, if only because we ourselves are bound by such restraints.
Spaces in Your Writing Sessions
Writing happens in time, and in steps. Most writers draft their ideas from inspiration or a prompt, and then revise and polish their drafts until any more revision seems unnecessary. Notice the phrasing here: the final copy is really just the product of the last revision. All the same, it takes time to write, from the shortest poem to the longest manuscript. Particularly in the revision process, time between sessions is most productive. Writers might need time to develop a plot, or consider the next scene, or even to learn more about their characters. Readers don’t necessarily see the varying space of time taken up in a writer’s life by the poem, novel, short story, book series, drama, etc.; they deal more or less with the end product only (with exceptions). And that leads to our final topic of discussion: the space of a work.
A Work in Space
Now, I’d like to think more metaphorically about space, in that writing—the best writing—truly occupies a space in the minds, hearts, even homes of the public. I mean domestic and foreign, too.
Put quite simply, an author creates a work, which he or she then publishes. This “copy” of the writer’s work is what consumers purchase, either through an electronic version or in physical print. Readers then enter the world of said work, the space in which the writer’s story takes place. Things get quite interesting from here!
The most popular writing at this point becomes something like social currency, a “trending topic,” if you will. The writer’s work goes from “book” to posters and art, promotional trinkets and toys, costumes perhaps, most likely a movie or television series, a veritable movement on social media as it shows up in conversations, in jokes and memes, an amusement park theme, a springboard for fan writing.
In short, the writer’s work, if successful enough, takes on a life of its own in the social sphere. No longer simply occupying space on the library shelf, it resides in the lives of society, taking its place in the chapters and footnotes of the stories of our lives.
Writing and “Space”
At this point, I could detail for you the incredible ways in which writing opens doors for anyone willing to submit to strenuous schedules, those patient and dedicated enough to contend with the beast Revision herself, the few souls who seek to carve out a different world view—
But my space is up, so I’ll leave you with this question instead: how do you think about space and writing?
Rebecca Henderson holds a Master’s in German and a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. Best expressing herself through the written word, she enjoys the smell of burning rubber and can recite the ABC’s of the automotive world upon command. Rebecca hopes to shift your world perspective through her words, because looking out the same window every day hardly makes for an interesting life.