“I need some space,” can be a dreadful thing to hear falling from a partner’s lips but it might not always be as negative as it sounds. As a writer I require quiet time without interruptions if I’m really to get on. I often struggled when I worked in open plan offices as there was so much going on and I was too easily distracted by offers of coffee and conversation. I wasn’t a slacker, just a very social animal who found it hard to refuse company.
Now I’m freelance again things are easier in terms of not having to make excuses to colleagues or drown out office noise by putting on headphones, but working from home has its own distractions. And that’s where needing some space comes in.
I dream of having an office in the house, or one of those ‘writing sheds’ to ensconce myself in but at the moment I work from the dining room table or in bed before I get up in the morning. My partner brings me coffee (bliss!) but he doesn’t quite understand that starting work while still in my pyjamas can be very productive.
It gives me mental space. I don’t have to engage with anything else other than my work. I wake up. I switch on the laptop. I get on with work, before anything can interrupt my train of thought, my mood or my concentration.
I worry about seeming to be a pretentious git. “Please don’t disturb me. It interrupts my creative flow.” but, for me, writing requires the sort of ‘head space’ that has often eluded me. Without that space, there might not be any writing.
I must have managed to write without it in the past, when I was a reporter, or working in radio news and scripts had to be done quickly to go on air in the next hour’s bulletin and I wrote a huge amount of stuff when I was at the RSPB, but sometimes writing is in the head.
Friends, partners and family should not feel insulted or perturbed if you tell them to go away or refuse to get out of bed before midday because you have to write. Writing may not make one rich, but you’ll never earn anything from it if you don’t actually do some.
So make demands for space! But try to explain why you need it.
I wonder if it applies to things other than writing?