As a writer, and as a creative person generally, I’ve found that having enough space is vital. Around us, the default is to fill things up to the tippy-top and overflowing.
So I treasure…
Open space on my desk. Oh so tempting to set more things upon it, but ideally I keep it clutter-free. Papers and items that don’t belong crowd my thoughts when I try to write. I want to think about blog posts like this one or my space fairy adventures when I sit down to write– not my always-long list of mundane tasks.
Free and clear space on my calendar. This is different from needing time specifically to write (which of course I do). Even when I’m honoring my writing time fully, if I feel frantic and busy overall, if too many chores are falling behind and chaos reigns in my home, then I am too tired and stressed to bring my full self to the page. There is an ebb and flow to this rhythm, and of course I go through busy times like anyone. But I need to circle myself back to a calendar that lets me breathe.
Notebook upon notebook with plenty of empty pages. Often I don’t even fill them up quite all the way, because writing on the last few pages makes me feel claustrophobic, like my ideas might not have enough room to wiggle their toes. I tear off the last few sheets from my steno pads and let my three-year-old color on them.
Space for things to not always work. Grace for things to unfold differently. I need to be okay having boatloads of ideas that won’t ever be written, to ardently give myself over to projects that might turn out meh, to experiment and take risks without knowing the outcome. Without this space, my ideas wither before they have a chance. Seedlings are fragile things.
Space to play. To create bad art purely for fun. To have adventures. To goof off. To soak up life.
Tolerance for blocks and moments of not-yet-knowing. If I feel stumped on something I’m writing, and I stop to think, part of my brain becomes eager to fill that thinking space. With some answer, any answer, because no answer feels like the walls have vanished and, containerless, I’m perhaps not quite safe. My brain wants to dash off and think about something else, anything else, that I could be doing instead… housework, Facebook, a different project, an elaborate review of writing exercises and brainstorming techniques. Sometimes those writing exercises are just the thing. But most of my short pauses are just tiny bubbles that float away if I let them be.
These are my aspirations. I’m not perfect at giving myself space, and I don’t need to be. (Let’s make space for that too.) I just need to remember, to return to the practice, to make having space be the place I come home to.
Space is even more critical to claim during the pandemic, when we might have less space and time to ourselves, or perhaps we have a lot of space but trouble cultivating the energy to make use of it. Then, it matters even more to offer ourselves containers we can fill. To work, at least a little of the time, with clear and deep intention. Not to mention offer ourselves the space to slack off sometimes and simply be.
Do you need space to create? What might it look like to grant yourself more space?