Writing Journal 7 December 2022: Added Time

In soccer, each game is split into two 90-minute halves. However, each of those halves in practice almost never lasts for exactly 90 minutes. There are always pauses in the action of the game to prepare for things like free kicks or corner kicks, book players for rough play, taking care of injured players, and other items.

Unlike in other time-regulated sports, however, the clock does not stop counting down during this time. The referee simply makes note of the stoppage, and at the end of the regulation 90 minutes, he announces how much additional “added time” is to be played before he blows his whistle to end the half and/or the game. It’s a time when all the players know the action is going to stop, and they have to do everything they can to make a difference in the game. Sometimes, they actually manage to do it.

Now that I met my writing goal, I get the feeling that I’m in added time for the rest of 2022. Here’s the stats for last week and the month of November.

Writing statistics for the week ending 4 December 2022:
+5,249 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 90 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 6 of 7 days.

Writing statistics for November 2022:
Words: 20,830
Revisions/Planning: 210 minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met: 74%

So, last week’s numbers I would be happy with nearly any time I would see them. My monthly totals were the best that I have seen since July of this year and officially represent my second most productive month of 2022.

My all-time official record for words in a year is 208,919. As of the end of Saturday, I’m within 4,164 words of matching that total.

My all-time record for meeting my daily quota is a 78 percent success rate. I’m doubtful that I’ll be able to match that this year, but I’m all but assured of meeting the goal I set this year of meeting my daily writing quota 70 percent of the time.

Anyway, I hope all the writers out there meet their goals or whatever their dreams are, and I hope everyone out there is staying safe. Now, here’s the part of the program where I beg you to sign up for my newsletter and mailing list. The info is below.

While I do appreciate you following this blog, I really would like you to subscribe to my Substack page. By subscribing to that page, you’ll not only be receiving my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (the companion blog to this one), but you’ll also be signing up for my email list. I will eventually be opening some special contests, offers, and first looks at original fiction, poems, and other items. Just click the button below.

A Writer’s Biography, Volume I, Part 10: The Basement

[PHOTO NOTE: My Basement looked nothing like this. Heck with it, I’ll use it anyway]

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Sorry if this came a little later than when you expected it. I have the feeling that more people might read my stuff if I release it on Saturday during the day rather than Sunday at night. However, I end up usually being able to write something by Sunday given my schedule. Should I say either Saturday and Sunday night just to be safe, but I should start working on releasing more consistently on Saturdays? That might be a good writing goal for next year, a more consistent release schedule.]

This was my home for 20 years, my parents home for 30 years, and now it’s someone else’s home. Time always changes things. The basement in question was in the back.

Let’s talk a little bit about sanctuaries, especially the ones that kids carve out for themselves.

At some point in every child’s life, they have an instinct to have a space of their own, a space that is separate from their parents and the rest of their family, a space that they don’t share.

On that level, I truly have sympathy for children who live in large families, like my mother. She was one of eight kids growing up in a little modest two-story house in the northern half of La Crosse, Wisconsin. I have some (relatively) clear memories of exploring that house 30 years after she had grown up in it, during the time both of my grandparents were alive and living in the house. My mother had been one of eight children there. There was a tiny little enclosed side porch when you entered the kitchen, which I think had light green countertops. There was one restroom off the kitchen, and through the other door taking a small step up, there was the dining room and an old radiating heater sitting right off to the side. To the right of that dining room was, I had thought, a sewing room that seemed filled with odds and ends of stored things and a sewing machine. As it turns out, that had been a bedroom when my mother lived there.

Through one door, there was the dark living room that had the one television and an old black upright piano, as well as a good couch and my grandfather’s recliner. In one direction, you could walk through some swinging doors to get to my grandparent’s bedroom, or you could go up a winding staircase to get to an upstairs that had just two bedrooms there, as well as a landing that often boasted a bed of its own, a sort of open-air bedroom.

And my mom’s family lived in that place and shared it with each other, occasionally all 10 of them. The only thing I can think of is, how did they manage to have a space of their own, all eight of those kids? How did they manage to not get overwhelmed by each other, in that big house?

“You went outside a lot,” my mother says now, maybe 30 years after both she and I stepped into that home for the last time. When she and her brothers and sisters needed some space, they stepped out into the wild world of La Crosse. There were days at the local beach (LaCrosse is situated on the Mississippi River, just like my own hometown of Muscatine is), the local pool, or even the skating rink at the local park, which apparently had a warming shed. This is an important feature in Wisconsin, a state where I heard tales of my grandparents walking across the frozen Mississippi[1].

I ended up having a totally different existence than my mother or even my father growing up. My mother had her seven siblings, and my father was the middle son between an elder and younger sister. I was an only child, and my mother was almost the only one of her siblings to have just one child. (One of her brothers was childless throughout his life). So, it turned out that we three were the only members of our immediate family who would live in Iowa when I was a child. I would live as an only child while occasionally venturing out of the state to Wisconsin, primarily, where I’d meet and reunite with some of my two dozen or so cousins.

For many people, it might have been an isolated life, but it never really felt like that to me. Suzanne Louise Liegois was always there with me from the beginning. Of course, Dad (William Allan Liegois) was a strong presence in my life and we were always close, but with him working in the engineering field, it was Mom who was with me most of the time. It was her that started introducing me to letters, and I had the alphabet down when I was about 18 months old. When we visited the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, near our home in Seabrook, Texas, where I spent my preschool years, she would write words in the sand where I could read them while enjoying the surf. By five years old, shortly before we would pull up roots and come to Iowa, I was able to read the stories in the newspapers we got at home.

“You were just so curious,” she told me years later. “I mean, really, you were just a nice little boy.”

It was both her and Dad who would read to me both during the day and then later at bedtime. Eventually, I would want to start reading books by myself. It would then lead me to want to have more books, and eventually I needed a place to store those books. This began my lifelong relationship with and use of bookshelves and bookcases.

By the time we moved to Muscatine, I had accumulated a serious mini library of Dr. Seuss books, other random picture books, and Muppet books like the one where Grover wanted to keep you from turning the page because he didn’t want to see the monster at the end of the book.

There was also a set of Worldbook encyclopedias that we picked up sometime around the time that I was eight. Many kids would avoid even looking at them in the shelves, much less picking them up. As for me, I would grab the “A” volume, the “G” volume, or the “R” volume, for example, and start sorting through all of the articles that attracted my fancy. I wound up learning a lot of random things over the course of so many days.

Even though I loved the encyclopedias when I was a kid, there were some disadvantages to them. After a few years, the whole set became outdated quickly. I think we had some encyclopedias that my parents had from the late 50’s, and then got some updated ones from the early 80’s. I actually am a fan of Wikipedia myself. If it was around during the time when I was a kid, I would be checking out all the articles of the day and clicking on the random articles of the day to see what I could learn.

It was that basement that was my sanctuary when I was a kid. I remember when I first saw it, when we toured the home before we bought it. I saw the yellow, green, and brown plaid carpet across the entire floor, I saw the medium brown wood paneling along the sides of the basement. I saw the weird rooms, like the white and blue linoleum place where I wound up storing my toys, the cement block place where we put our washer, dryer, and a cement block shower and toilet. There was the weird storage room where we stuffed everything, and then there was the room off my toy room where Dad stored his tools and just about everything else and I would check it out every once in a while just to see what the tools looked like.

I loved that place. It was my sanctuary.

My main hangout was on the couch, which at the beginning of my time at that house was an olive-green corduroy couch where I relaxed and read. If I wanted to play my Atari 2600 or later, my Nintendo NES, I would skooch over in front of the fake wood and metal television that dominated the main portion of the basement that presented itself in front of the staircase that led down from the main floor. The basement was where I watched forbidden pro wrestling and morally questionable movies and where I kept my ears keyed on the slightest movement upstairs from my parents. My mother, at least, was prepared to check up on me periodically, and make sure that I was watching sensible entertainment, even though such sentiments were a lost cause. I was focused on consuming as much adult entertainment as possible and there was nothing that they could do to stop me from doing so. It was something I kept in mind when it was time to raise my own two children, who were both reasonable and unreasonable in their own ways.

To be fair, however, I never totally kept this basement to myself. My parents were welcome to come down and watch television and play Nintendo with me – I specifically remember watching Mystery Science Theater with them for the first time later in my youth and us laughing along together. I would occasionally invite friends, sometimes more than one friend, down there for video games, Legos, board games, and other amusements in the last generation to have a pre-Internet era. Of course, that was where I brought my girlfriends and eventually my future wife to so we could hang out.

But it was my sanctuary. It was where I felt comfortable to be myself, where I felt comfortable to start be creative. When I first began to jot down notes, ideas, and eventually short stories in a series of notebooks, it was in the basement where I first started to do that. And when I finally got my first desktop computer, I set it up not in my bedroom, but right in the middle of that basement. That basement was my first writing room, my first creative space. I began to treasure having it and later spaces in the years to come.

[1] I never managed to accomplish this feat myself, although I did manage to walk around and throw a football around on the frozen Iowa River during my time at the University of Iowa.

While I do appreciate you following this blog, I really would like you to subscribe to my Substack page. By subscribing to that page, you’ll not only be receiving my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (the companion blog to this one), but you’ll also be signing up for my email list. I will eventually be opening some special contests, offers, and first looks at original fiction, poems, and other items. Just click the button below.

Writing Journal 30 November 2022: Cruising into the rest of the year

Feeling really good about this last week, even though the production was modest. Other than nine extra words, this week was no different statistically than the previous week. Given that this past week included my Thanksgiving break and that involved a bit of hectic activity and traveling, that’s decent news for me.

You may not have heard that I managed to meet my word count goal for the year. I’m still taking a bit of a victory lap regarding that milestone. However, I’m not resting for the rest of the year, not by a long shot. As of right now, my official highest yearly total was 208,919 words back in 2020. With slightly more than a month to work with, that mark can very easily fall. From the pace that I’ve been maintaining, if that doesn’t fall in three weeks, I’ll be very surprised.

I’m certainly not going to keep things modest next year. I have a book that will be coming out in the near future, and you’ll hear about when it’s coming out here first. And there’s more that I want to learn about

What I’ve come to realize is that I’m going to have to continually push myself when it comes to my writing productivity. I look back at some of my posts over the past few years and it truly amazes me how I’ve developed so far and how far I have to go. I remember a quote, which I’ll attempt to paraphrase, from the Russian world chess champion of the 1930’s and 1940’s, Alexander Alekhine. I remember hearing of a radio interview that he gave near the end of his life. At one point the interviewer said to Alekhine that it must have been gratifying to have lived such a long life and learned everything that there was to know about chess. Alekhine replied by insisting that an entire lifetime was not enough time to learn everything there was to learn about chess.

That’s the same way that I look at writing. Because of that, the whole experience is always challenging and never gets boring.

As always, here’s the numbers from last week.

Writing statistics for the week ending 26 November 2022:
+3,780 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 1 of 7 for 30 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.

Anyway, all you writers keep writing and everyone keep safe. The following is my obligatory plug to sign up for my Substack mailing list. I’m going to be attaching it to every post I make, so get used to it. 🙂

While I do appreciate you following this blog, I really would like you to subscribe to my Substack page. By subscribing to that page, you’ll not only be receiving my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (the companion blog to this one), but you’ll also be signing up for my email list. I will eventually be opening some special contests, offers, and first looks at original fiction, poems, and other items. Just click the button below.

I Made it to This Year’s Writing Goal

It’s been a long year, but I’m glad that I’ve found this bit of success this year.

I had long set a goal for me to write 200,000 words this year. As of 2:30 PM Central Time today, I am at 200,063, with more than a month to spare.


My current full record for a year that I have been keeping records of is 208,919 back in 2020. This is certainly reachable before the year is out.

I had hoped to meet my daily quota of 500 words a day or 30 minutes of revisions and/or planning at least 70 percent of the time this year. I’m not sure exactly when I will be statistically secure on that goal, but I expect that it will happen soon.

Some of the things that I have experienced this year have given me a lot to think about. I’ll have to consider what my writing goals will look like next year.

Upward and onward, then.

While I do appreciate you following this blog, I really would like you to subscribe to my Substack page. By subscribing to that page, you’ll not only be receiving my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (the companion blog to this one), but you’ll also be signing up for my email list. I will eventually be opening some special contests, offers, and first looks at original fiction, poems, and other items. Just click the button below.

Some Renovations at Liegois Media

Hi, everyone.

I decided to let you know about a couple of changes and additions to the Liegois Media site. Most of these involve the menu options at the top of the blog.

First, I revised the About Me page on this blog to reflect how the blog has changed over the past few years and to not make it so link-happy (although there are a few links on there).

For links, there’s my Link In Bio page, where I’ve collected all of my important links. That includes my companion blog, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois, the place to go for you to sign up for that newsletter and my mailing list, my Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon pages, and a whole bunch of other items.

I still have the My Work page, which includes all the links where you can go to purchase my paid fiction. I’m hoping to add to that page very soon in the near future.

There’s also a contact page, which has the email you should contact me if you have questions or any professional inquiries (writing services, appearances, queries, etc. etc.). Actually, that email address is all over the place here on the blog, but I like it that you can find that and other information in more than one place.

You will also see that I’ve removed any references to my Twitter presence on this blog. Here’s the explanation for why that’s now the case.

That’s it for now; I’ll let you know if there’s any other

While I do appreciate you following this blog, I really would like you to subscribe to my Substack page. By subscribing to that page, you’ll not only be receiving my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (the companion blog to this one), but you’ll also be signing up for my email list. I will eventually be opening some special contests, offers, and first looks at original fiction, poems, and other items. Just click the button below.

Saying Goodbye to Twitter

I didn’t want to use a Twitter logo for this post. So, here’s a cool photo of downtown Des Moines I took instead.

You might have noticed that I don’t write too much about politics here. I’m not sure when or where I mentioned it before on here, but I’ve made a conscientious decision to focus this blog (and my Substack page) on, as I put it, writing and the writing life.

Occasionally I might mention items about politics on my own personal Facebook page, or perhaps other places. I don’t mention them here. It’s my belief that keeping a clear focus for this blog and not letting it be about whatever pops into my head. I had one blog where I wrote it anonymously and that was just about anything that came into my head. That blog wound up just lasting a couple months before I got bored with it. I kept this blog on the specific topic of writing, the writing life, and my writing life in particular. It’s now well into its fifth year of operation and going steady, although it’s not like I’ve been able to use it to make any money. Yet.

As part of this effort to express myself online, I also wound up getting on social media. My time on Facebook, and the page I dedicated to my writing, actually predates this blog. For a while, I also was on Twitter, first with a personal account, and also an account associated with this blog. I just thought it would be a good way to get the word out about what I was doing here.

Until now.

You might have heard that the son of a South African emerald mine owner has purchased Twitter for such an insanely inflated price that he spent the better part of this year trying to get out of the deal until a Delaware court all but forced him to go through with it. This is not the place for me to recount the whole story of what has happened to the service (many others are doing a better job of that online), but it is sufficient to say that to buy the company he wound up cashing in a lot of the stock he had in his existing company and securing far too much financing from the government of Saudi Arabia for comfort. Since then, he has apparently been busy slashing payroll and expenditures to the detriment of the platform’s services, driving away advertisers and users by ignoring proper content moderation, and allowing the site to become a haven for right-wing terrorists and bigots.

This is now the portion of this post where I will briefly become political. Don’t worry – it will only last for a couple of paragraphs.

I refuse to believe that anyone in this world can earn a billion dollars without either inheriting a large portion of that sum or exploiting other people. I fail to see how anyone with any hint of sanity would not see that having $999 million dollars would not be a sufficient fortune and feel compelled to grub for even more money.

Although there are many things that are worthy of debate, human rights and equality is not among them. Bigots of all kinds have no valid contribution to make to society and their “opinions” on what type of people are worthier than others have no value. The proper way to deal with such people is not to coddle or understand them, and certainly not to debate them. They must be shunned and opposed under any and all circumstances.

As a result of this, I don’t feel like I can support being on such a platform anymore. After carefully downloading a data record of both my accounts, I posted a final Twitter thread to them last night. This is the pinned Tweet on my Liegois Media Twitter page as of this moment:

Barring technical difficulties, I’ll be deleting this account in 48 hours (5 p.m. CDT 27 November 2022). Anyone after that trying to claim on Twitter that they’re Jason Allan Liegois who grew up in Muscatine, Iowa, for any reason, personal or otherwise, is fake and/or a bot.

As much of this is a supposedly principled stand that I am making, I also have to admit that there is a slightly mercenary aspect to this as well. I had long hoped that my presence on Twitter would result in some additional engagement with people who might want to read this blog. In all honesty, that hasn’t happened. For example, I decided to leave my Twitter threads up for about two days to give any followers of mine sufficient time to bookmark the links I left posted there. I will be highly surprised if anyone uses those links, much less that even a single Twitter user will respond to those posts. On Twitter it often seemed like I was yelping into the void, in all honesty.

I had toyed with simply deleting all of my tweets and leaving my account open as a zombie account, but it’s much easier to delete the whole thing, and I already have the data if I ever get morbidly curious about all of the items I posted over the years.

It was very therapeutic to unfollow everyone on my Twitter accounts and slowly see my Twitter feeds dwindle to a blank screen. It was even cooler to see how many of the writers I follow on Twitter have Substack pages, so I was taking the time to subscribe to those pages so I could continue to read their work. I would really like you, or anybody really reading this, to subscribe to my Substack page. I am using that to develop an email list of subscribers and an online community that I hope will be much more sustainable and personal than “social media” networks. Most everything on this site (with the exception of perhaps my writing journals) will be posted on the Substack site.

Go ahead and join me there. We’ll talk writing.

Writing Journal 24 November 2022: Plodding toward the finish (and Thanksgiving break)

Hi, everyone. Hope all is going well with as we ease into the Thanksgiving week. I have a full five straight days of vacation and I definitely need them, I think.

There’s been a bit of a refreshing and a redesign that I’m doing a “soft launch” on this week. I think I’ll get into it in more detail on the next blog post I write, which I’ll post Saturday, I think. Essentially, it’s a bit of an update to get some of my new links up and some old items I don’t use down.

It’s still been a slow writing period for me. I did slightly better than last week. There was a part of me that considered that I might have actually reached my 200,000-word goal for this year by Thanksgiving, but it might be tight. As of last Saturday, I have about 4,200 words left to get to that mark. That’s an average week for me, so maybe by next week I will be able to pop the proverbial champagne cork in celebration. We’ll see.

Here’s the stats for last week.

Writing statistics for the week ending 20 November 2022:
+3,771 words written
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 1 of 7 for 30 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.

And this is the point in every one of my posts where I’ll ask you to subscribe to my mailing list for my Substack blog, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois. I’m trying to build up a strong email list so that I can keep in contact with people to let them know what’s going on with me, to talk about opportunities to talk with me about writing or writing advice, and, oh yeah, maybe sell a book or two. It’s free to do and trust me, I’m not even thinking about a paid subscription just yet. Just click on the button below to get yourself sorted.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Writers keep writing and the rest of you stay safe.

I Would Love It If You’d Subscribe To My Substack

My Substack page is now operating under a new name – The Writing Life With Jason Liegois. It is now a companion piece to this blog, and I have moved my archive of older posts from Liegois Media to that site.

This does not in any way mean that I am abandoning this site. On the contrary, this site will continue to be one of the main home bases, so to speak, for my writing and online activity.

However, I am using Substack to help build something that is far overdue for me… an email list.

One of the pieces of advice that I have been receiving from fellow writers both online and in real life (IRL) is that building an email list of readers has been a good way of getting people interested in what you are doing and what you are writing. I’m interested in building a community of readers, of people who get something out of what I write.

And I promise that I just won’t bother you every time I’m interested in selling something (like new books that might be on their way), but usually just to let you know what I’ve been writing, what I’ve been thinking of, and even just how things have been. You can get on Substack chats with me if you’ve got questions about writing or want to chat about whatever questions I’m chatting about.

So, definitely feel free to subscribe to my WordPress, but if you have already subscribed to that, I would absolutely appreciate it if you subscribed to my Substack so I could build that email list and you can get access to the newsletter. Send along your email and I absolutely promise I won’t send you any pyramid schemes, crypto scams, or phishing attempts. But you will get access to some good writing when it comes out.

Just click on the link below to subscribe to my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois:


Now, you aren’t absolutely positively required to send your emails to me so I can send you new posts, new releases, and maybe even offer you a contest or two. But really…

Writing Journal 16 November 2022: This week was maybe par at best

[PHOTO NOTE: I rearranged my bookshelves and also got a couple of new items. The Son by Philip Meyer is turning into a nice little read.]

Meeting my word count goal of 200,000 for the year 2022 is getting closer by the day. I’m just about to reach it. I’m just under 10,000 words to the goal. If I wrote out of my mind for the next 10 days I just might be able to actually reach it by Thanksgiving.

But given my writing rates recently, that might be a bridge too far. The numbers for last week are not horrific but not inspiring either.

Writing statistics for the week ending 12 November 2022:
+3,364 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 1 of 7 for 60 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.

Again, if this was a younger me who seemed to struggle for any sort of consistency writing, those wouldn’t be bad numbers. But then again, I’m not settling for okay numbers, I want good numbers and consistent numbers.

Even if I’m working full-time at another job like I am now, I still should be over 4,000 words per week. If I just meet my daily writing quote of 500 words a day, that would add up to 3,500 words. Just good isn’t enough, though.

Oh, I’m also trying to experiment with Mailchimp to see if I can build an email community that might be interested in what I have to write, but I’m trying to keep up with the writing at the same time. Maybe I start looking at it in December once I met my goal, hehe.

Anyway, all you other writers keep writing and everyone keep safe.

Refreshing/Cleaning My Writing/Pondering Space Because You Need To Do That Every Once In A While

Again, I got tunnel vision on one project and found myself without something in particular to write about.

This is the part of the post where I talk about what’s going on behind the scenes and don’t actually give writing advice. Thanks.

As it turns out, I’m now trying to write material for two blogs – this one and my one on Substack. Usually, what I try to do is cross-post my material on both sites. However, I can’t always do that. For example, while I am posting my writing journals on this site, I’m not sure that I’m going to do that on Substack. The audience for just me talking about writing numbers might be slightly limited (lol).

I’m also trying to continue to write the A Writer’s Biography posts on both sites as well. I’ve really enjoyed writing these (and it might be turning into a memoir), but this project is at different points on the different sites. On WordPress, I have been writing these stories for a while, and am trying to put together some new outings describing my past as a writer and my writing life. On Substack, I’ve just begun to post entries from this series, but I decided to start from the beginning. Since I am interested in expanding the series to book form, I’ve decided to post these expanded and revised entries as a sneak peek on Substack. So, that means I’m trying to write one thing for one site, revise another thing for another site, all the while researching the latest thing I’m hoping lets people know about me (Mailchimp), and trying to write my next novel project. All of this during a limited amount of time in the evenings and weekends of my life.

Basically, I’ve got a lot on my plate. But I am trying to write more. And there is a new book being published soon in early 2023 – The Yank Striker. Watch this space for upcoming details.

[Somewhat random explaining and complaining over.]

I’ve talked before about how having a dedicated writing space and taking care of it is something essential. As you can see from the featured photo at the beginning of this post, my writing space is relatively modest. In the first house I owned in Clinton, Iowa, I commandeered a former back porch converted into a four-season room as my first real dedicated writing room. Despite the fact it also happened to be the main entrance into the house for me and my family, it worked out well for what it was. Then there was the spare bedroom in our home in Muscatine, Iowa, where my wife Laura and I raised our two kids through their school-age years.

The spare bedroom/office in my home in Muscatine.

It wound up being essentially my clubhouse for the next 12 years, and my wife would say that since I didn’t clean it up enough, it started to take on the… essence of a guy’s locker room by the end of that run. It wasn’t a bad little writing space.

When I moved to Chariton, Iowa, I first took charge of a spare room in the front of our new house. Family circumstances, however, required me to vacate that room and for us to convert it into a spare bedroom so both our late-teen kids could share our house. Instead, I found a little landing that sat at the top of the staircase from the main floor to our main bedroom, which was converted from existing attic space. When I get to the top of the stairs, I have the bedroom to my left and the landing on my right.

This is absolutely the smallest writing space I have ever had. I only have half the bookshelf space I had in my first two homes, and at least one of the bookshelves I have is now in the bedroom rather than within reach. The total floor space on the landing is roughly 40 square feet but my effective space is probably more like 30 square feet. Much of that is taken up by two bookcases, a three-stack plastic storage case, and a desk that is only half the size of my desk in Muscatine. (I use the vintage desk that my wife previously used when she had her own consultant firm and worked out of our Muscatine home). I can’t quite stand up straight underneath the sloping ceiling above the desk, and I don’t have a door to close to keep the noise in the house out.

It might be the best writing space I have had yet.

For me, it seems to be just enough space. I’ve got enough light, people down on the main floor can’t see me up here type type typing away (but they probably hear me). Everything I absolutely need (light, notebooks, audio-visual equipment, a laptop, the Internet) is within a stretching arm reach. Despite not having a door to close, I can feel pretty set apart up here, which is a good situation to have for a writing space.

You also need to clean up the place every once in a while. My wife suggested today might be a good day to do it, and I took her up on it. After a while, a home office can accumulate quite a few things, like dust over everything, books, pop cans, and notebooks scattered around, and paper. There is often lots of small slips of paper scattered around the flat surfaces of a home office, and if it’s been too long since a sorting out and cleaning, you often have no idea of why they are there.

Anyway, I have two bits of related writing advice tonight.

  1. Make sure you clean and reorganize your writing space on a regular basis, at least once a month to prove that you’re not some degenerate derelict taking up space in your residence. If you have a clean and organized space, your thought processes tend to be cleaner and more straightforward as well. You’ll also feel like you accomplished something if you do it even without writing any words down that day.
  2. Despite the temptation to have a massive home office, consider the possibility of using a smaller space for your writing. It forces you to keep things simple and uncomplicated, which helps make your thinking simpler and uncomplicated. It also has the side benefit of making it a faster process of cleaning and reorganizing your writing area. For example, it just took me about 40 minutes to fully dust and reorganize my space.

That’s about it for tonight. I’ll try and see if I can post something on the weekend earlier than after 10 p.m. Central time on Sunday (lol). Take care everyone.