March 04, 2014
My Writing Cave
For the past few weeks I’ve been in what I’ve taken to calling my “writing cave.” With all the craziness surrounding SOMETHING REAL, I knew I’d never meet my next few deadlines if I didn’t do something drastic. It was great fun ushering my debut novel out into the world (today is its one month anniversary!), but I missed the hard work of sitting down and writing for six to eight hours a day. That’s how I work and when I’m not doing that I’m a miserable person to be around.
So I created the writing cave, which is basically my office except I now call it a cave. This is very appropriate, because the book I’m currently knee-deep in is the second installment of the Dark Caravan trilogy, in which my heroine descends into an ancient cave to look for something that may or may not change the fate of the jinn race. My cave is a little different than the one Nalia must endure, though. For starters, it has an unlimited supply of coffee and Vitamin Water.
In my cave, there are twinkly white lights around the window to beat back the winter blues. There’s a bookcase full of inspiring books on writing. There are battle boards that help me plan my books, collages I made, notes of encouragement from friends. It smells like amber oil that I got in Morocco and burn when I need inspiration. It has a constant soundtrack of Ravi and Anoushka Shankar playing. It has a yoga mat for stretching, a jinni bottle collection, and post-it notes.
My writing cave does not have a cell phone. The Internet is only accessible in the middle of the day, for no more than a half hour during lunch. This is when I catch up on Twitter and Facebook. In the writing cave, it is strictly prohibited to check email during business hours. Business hours are usually from 9-5, but they’re basically until I reach my daily limit of 3,000 words. Let me tell you why this email thing is really key: email fucks with your Zen. There is nothing more damaging to your writing flow than getting an email from your bank about something you need to look into right away or an email from your agent saying something didn’t sell or from your editor saying can you please do this or that ASAP thankyouverymuch. The thing about email is…it can be about anything and from nearly anyone. You never know what’s going to be in there. It can be a minefield or a fascinating rabbit hole, both of which are going to tear down the veil you put between you and the rest of the world when you’re trying to write.
Sometimes I break the rules of the writing cave. This is reality. There are things that are time sensitive. Or people that need you, like your best friend or your husband. Or sometimes something really exciting happens and you have to tell everyone about it right away because you accidentally saw it pop up on your phone. Sometimes I don’t have a good reason to let the world into the cave. Every now and then, I have a day where I get really discouraged and start pinning things on my Pinterest board but then I remember I AM IN THE WRITING CAVE. And I start writing again. That’s the important thing.
The writing cave ROCKS (haha, no pun intended). It keeps you productive and it keeps you sane. Instead of scouring Twitter, obsessing over what your publisher is or isn’t doing for you or comparing yourself to other writers or trying to think of witty things to say in 140 characters or less, you are instead doing what you were supposed to do, what God put you on this green earth to do: write. I love the image, the feel of a cave. It’s different than a writing tree house or nook. Caves are dark (well, mine isn’t but it’s my cave and I decorate it how I want to), mysterious, and out of the way. You don’t just wander into caves—it’s always intentional. Caves are a bit scary and exciting. They feel old, like the beginning of things, but also like the end of things, too. They feel secret. Like it can just be yours for as long as you want it to be. That’s kinda how you want to feel when you’re writing, right? Just you, the world you’re creating, your characters, and the words. That’s it.
There are monsters in the cave: boredom, self-doubt, frustration. But there is treasure, too, loads of it.
You just have to step inside, grab a torch, and go.
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