Creating your writing space

I’ve been incredibly inspired as of late after listening to an episode of The Writer Files podcast featuring Donald M. Rattner.

Rattner is a “creativity architect”, an architect who specializes in designing spaces that maximize creative productivity and inspiration. This concept felt so obvious to me as soon as he introduced himself, but it wasn’t ever something that came to mind naturally. We all have our favorite spaces to create, whether just out of comfort or awareness that we produce our best work while there. But Rattner is able to break down why this happens and how to manually foster a creative space.

An important first step is to assess your surroundings in your favorite writing space. Is it a minimalistic setting where you have few surroundings, or is it a space filled with memories and ephemera that inspire you? It can say a lot about where you find inspiration when you look around.

My favorite writing spaces have been some of both, depending on what sort of headspace I was in. I like writing at my desk where I’m surrounded by my inspirations and favorite art, but I also finished my first book at the beautiful, modern UCSB library.

You want a place where you can either find inspiration around you or where you have to find it yourself. Some of us need that outside inspiration, and some of us just need peace and quiet.

Go to one of each and try writing. See how it feels, how hard you feel like you have to work to get words on the page. Maybe you want a blend of the two. Be sure to try writing outside at least once in your life!

I highly recommend listening to that episode (The Writer Files: How to Design Your Writing Space with Award-Winning Architect Donald M. Rattner) and checking out other episodes of The Writer Files. Kelton Reid is an excellent host and the guests are incredibly varied and bring unique insight every time. I also recommend checking out work from Rattner ( I don’t yet own his book My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation, but I hope to get it soon.

Historical fiction apart from suffering

My first full-length novel was historical fiction.

Gasps from all around. The audience collectively shivers. One person dares to boo.
Writing historical fiction is simply not as insufferable as many people may think. It may take an acquired taste for research, but you never know until you’ve tried it. And if you enjoy reading it, you can absolutely write it.

Writing my first book, I had two companions by my side: Google and one (1) Renaissance history book (Christendom Destroyed by Mark Greengrass). I accumulated many bookmarked tabs with information regarding dialect, textiles, and torture devices. I annotated the book because tend to think that a highlighted, well-read book is just prettier.

Certain documents stood out to me more and became really exciting discoveries. I began to realize that I might just really love research. I love diving down a rabbit hole and entering a world of metallic crystals for a science paper or finding out about legal loopholes in the 17th century. This is an excellent trait to have in general but it makes historical fiction a joy to write.

If there’s a special, weird interest you have in positively anything, that affinity shines in your writing. Think of J.R.R. Tolkien; his interest in linguistics meant that he was drawn to create his own language for The Lord of the Rings, and the parts written in Elvish are gems in the books.

This is because it’s simply fun to live vicariously amongst someone’s interests. When your best friend tells you about their favorite song and why they love it so much, their words exude passion. And it feels great to be the one telling someone about your favorite things, too, because it’s a very intimate way of communicating. The listener is showing that they care about the speaker’s passions, which immediately connects the two with knowing this.

For example, if your favorite song has deeply emotional lyrics, by telling someone else that you love it you’re expressing your relatability to the piece of music. This instantly places you in a position of vulnerability that reveals what you connect to and makes the other individual wonder what experiences you must have had in your life to connect to that music so much.

By writing, you are putting that vulnerability on paper. You are unintentionally writing your wounds into every word. And when you know so much about something or simply can’t help but be interested in Greek mythology, your readers will thank you for including it.

We write best from what we love and feel.

You’ll find that when you use these resources that are lying around in your writer’s toolbox, they will come together effortlessly to elevate the story into something bigger and better.

Nick Cave on writer’s block

Hello writers.

Writer’s block is a universal concept. That time when you got stopped up and the words can’t flow. Maybe you were writing so fast the pencil was flying and then, suddenly, you lose your train of thought. You can’t think of the next line of dialogue.

Maybe you take a break from looking at the page or the screen and step away for a bit. But what do you do if when you return you’re right where you left off?

Essentially nothing, at least not yet. I’d wager to say that anyone who has ever written anything has experienced some form of writer’s block. And yet, there are professional authors who write tens of thousands of words each day. You’d think they must have found some way to avoid it but most of them deal with it just like we do.

Nick Cave is often regarded as one of the most brilliant lyricists in music. He writes elaborate stories and poetry into his music in a way that carries their significance, along with bringing his experiences along through his words.

And no more shall we part, the contracts are drawn up, the ring is locked upon the finger and never again will my letters start sadly, or in the depths of winter

His thoughts about writer’s block may be specific to lyrics in his words, but it’s clear how his advice applies to all writing.

Cave says, “The idea of lyrics ‘not coming’ is basically a category error. What we are talking about is not a period of ‘not coming’ but a period of ‘not arriving’. The lyrics are always coming. They are always pending. They are always on their way toward us. But often they must journey a great distance and over vast stretches of time to get there. They advance through the rugged terrains of lived experience, battling to arrive at the end of our pen. In time, they emerge, leaping free of the unknown — from memory or, more thrillingly, from the predictive part of our minds that exists on the far side of the lived moment. It has been a long and arduous journey, and our waiting much anguished… our task is to remain patient and vigilant and to not lose heart — for we are the destination.”

We are the destination — not our writing. Through writing, we discover more about ourselves and the writing continues to convey more and more about us. Our writing must cross the terrain of our lived experiences; we cannot write disconnected from our lives. Everything we write is deeply ingrained with our joys and pains.

But ultimately, as he says, vigilance is key. We can’t be upset with ourselves for the ideas taking a while to reach us, because they need time to develop.

Next time you find yourself staring expectantly at the page, take a walk with your thoughts. Drink some tea and let the ideas steep. Don’t let yourself give up simply because you lost the patience to wait for your best ideas yet.