Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Writer's Wednesday - Guard your Writer's Sanctuary

This Writer's Wednesday blog comes from debut Harlequin Romance author Barbara Wallace, who urges you to find that special place and cherish it! You never know what it might give back to you...

As writers, we need our sanctuaries. Creative energy is fragile enough without being pulled in ten thousand directions while we try to write. Once you find one, hold on tight. Treasure it, protect it for all it's worth.

A little over five years ago, after another decade of stagnation and frustration, I decided to take my writing career seriously. I was, I determined, going to write every single day. Problem was finding the time to write. Not only did I have a school age son, but a part time job with a pr agency. Then there was the bigger problem of day-to-day life. Every time I turned around there was some errand, some activity, some household chore, some…thing needing my attention. By the time I actually found an hour or so to write, the day was over.

A wise friend of mine pinpointed the problem right away. “It’s not the obligations,” she said, “It’s your location. How can you put writing first if you’re forever trapped in a land where your main identity is ‘Mom’?” Her advice: Find a place where your identity isn’t Mom, but Barb the writer.
As my friend pointed out, everyone needs a special place. Not a room, not a corner, not a desk, a place. Somewhere that you can tap into your creativity without distractions or clutter. Where you can truly become your writer self.

Enter my local Starbucks. I made it a goal to spend an hour there two days a week. While there I would have coffee (naturally) and write. At first, I felt guilty. I mean, hanging out at a coffee shop with my notebook and three-dollar latte went against my hard-working Yankee roots. But slowly the guilt faded as I realized that 1) writing is work and 2) there’s nothing wrong with taking time out to work on your dream.

Shortly after I established my Starbucks routine, something magical happened. I was no longer talking about my desire to write. I I was writing. What’s more – writing had become a priority. What had been a two day a week treat became a five day a week routine. The more I wrote, the stronger my writing became. The stronger the writing, the better the editorial response. And somewhere along the way, my self-image shifted. I stopped being Barb-The-Mom-and-Wannabe-Novelist; I became Barb The Writer. The other titles, at least while at Starbucks, faded in favor of my dream. Now is that worth the cost of a latte? You better believe it.

Flash forward to the present. I’ve sold two Romances and a novel, and have a contract for two more. The baristas and management at Starbucks celebrated every one of these sales. In fact, as I type this, there’s a three-foot sandwich board out front advertising A FAIRYTALE CHRISTMAS, my November anthology with Susan Meier. Starbucks is throwing me a book signing. It’s a congratulations gift from my coffee brewing friends.

Now is that worth the cost of a latte? You better believe it.

So if you have a writing sanctuary, guard it. Protect it for all it’s worth. You never know what magic it’ll create for you.

Barb's debut is the novella Magic Under The Mistletoe, paired up with Susan Meier in A FAIRYTALE CHRISTMAS in the US/Canada and part of the antho CHRISTMAS WISHES & MISTLETOE KISSES in the UK (Mills and Boon Special Releases). Check out her next book available now from eharlequin and on store shelves in December - THE CINDERELLA BRIDE!


  1. Barbara!
    How sweet. And congratulations on your success.

  2. Congratulations, Barbara. Your post struck a chord with me as I've just found a coffee shop where I feel I can go and write. Somewhere away from the distractions of home and husband!

    Just hope that my new writing space will create the same magic for me, with a lot of hard work of course!


  3. That is just the most beautiful cover, Barbara! And the title fairies have been kind, too. Loved your writing sanctuary story. My hut at the bottom of the garden doesn't even have a coffee pot!