Professor Wu's Rulebook

The quest for a creative safe space (and the necessity of finding one)

Photography by Rafael de Oliveira. Image via Flickr CC.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything creative outside of work. Too long, I would argue — unless you count a particularly risqué parody of One Direction fan fiction written as an Easter joke as creative, then my last proper piece of writing was a half-baked short story, left abandoned after Christmas ended.

Truth be told, it’s been hard to get the words flowing ever since I moved out of my parents’ home. At first, I attributed it to work — after all, it’s easy to suppose that being part of a marketing agency, where I have to write copy for most of the day, does put a strain on coming up with new ideas outside of work. But I’ve had plenty of ideas that I’ve done nothing with. I then figured it might have something to do with time, and while it’s true that I’m always busy, my level of free time outside of ‘working hours’ isn’t that different to when I was at university. Finally, the only thing left was the place in which I was writing — a place I just couldn’t get feeling right.

At my parents’ home, I had my bedroom — a space that was my own and nobody else’s. While it wasn’t luxurious by any means (a fairly average desk chair, an overly large desk that was full of crap and a bed with a fairly rigid and back pain inducing headboard) but it was mine. I could retreat upstairs with ease, pick up whatever I was doing and not worry about a thing. I felt safe to explore whatever ideas I wanted to explore — even if that was cheesy tales of vampiric woe or self-indulgent music reviews.

Although this new house is warm, and cosy, and has everything I might need (like copious amounts of coffee and fluffy blankets), I still haven’t found my corner. It is a house that is filled with love and support and yet my creative safe space is still missing, lost in the ether, like the words that run through my head in the car and never make it onto the page. As soon as I start to write, it feels cold and aloof, like an empty hotel lobby where the wifi doesn’t quite work properly and the concierge keeps staring in your direction because he has nothing better to do.

I’ve tried the living room, both the sofa and the dining table within it. Neither feel right. There are too many distractions, and nowhere comfy enough for a mammoth novel-planning session. The bed just doesn’t seem right — it’s not just my own but shared, and even though I have that feeling of warmth and safety at night when his arms are wrapped around me, that doesn’t extend well to my laptop. The garden? The wifi doesn’t stretch that far and I hate bugs. The spare room is my boyfriend’s studio so that he can record his songs, and I can’t help but feel jealous that he has his own room where he’s free to play, but I suppose we make sacrifices for those we love. Those bastards.

Maybe my new safe space isn’t in the house, but coffee shops in provincial towns can be so dreadfully inconvenient, with their sensible closures around teatime. The pub’s not an option — I don’t fancy beer on my MacBook Pro — and I haven’t even set foot in the tiny library. I can’t even return to my true home, that childhood home, because my room’s been repurposed into a perfect, placid guest room with no more posters on the wall, no more idle Post-it notes and no more dismal Ikea desk.

I constantly envy those creative troubadours that can just plonk themselves down onto any coffee shop sofa with a latte and a laptop and bash thousands of words out at the blink of an eye. But perhaps there’s a way of training myself to become one, of refocusing the mind so that I can carry my safe space with me. For now, the quest continues, so if you see me in a café, tapping away in vain, just leave me to it — you never know, I might just have discovered my crafty corner.

About the author of this post

13231227_10209425815752741_151755471_nRobyn Hardman is a writer, blogger and a PR and marketing consultant based in the Cotswolds. When she’s not writing press releases about silly cars, she’s usually in the pit at your local punk show. She tweets as @twobeatsoff.

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