Writing encompasses more than one of the academic disciplines known collectively as the humanities. And as art refers to an expression or application of creative skill and imagination, writing is most definitely an art. What about science? A scientist is someone who acquires knowledge through systematic means. Systematic implies an ordered or methodical organization to how that knowledge is pursued. Writers – fiction or nonfiction – are pursuing knowledge of their craft, seeking to understand something and then transmogrify it through the creative process. There, we’ve just proved that writing is a humanity, an art, and a science. Why does this matter? Because I’m about to turn you into a mad scientist.
What I’ve always loved about mad scientist movies is their laboratories. Bubbling glass beakers, formalin-suspended brain specimens, eyeballs in jars. And what do scientists typically do in their laboratories? Conduct experiments in their pursuit of knowledge.
I have a mostly-written novel that I started several years ago and haven’t been able to find the time to finish it. You’re a writer so you can relate. We’re great at starting projects, not so great at finishing them. I’m about to embark on a 30-Day Challenge to finish this book. And while preparing for this challenge, I’ve been feeling lately that I need a laboratory to help me sort out my thoughts. It could be somewhere in my basement, a rented studio, or make-believe laboratories work too. Mainly, every writer needs one.
We’re all scientists in a way, and we need a place for exploration and experimentation. A place where we don’t need to keep an organized filing system, don’t need to sweep sunflower seed shells off the floor, a playroom that can be messy all the time and where we can be completely allowed to write the worst crap of our lives and have that be a viable part of our creative process.
“Throw the third switch!”
“Not the third switch, Doctor…”
Your writing lab doesn’t need good lighting or proper ergonomic chairs. You can sit on the floor and write with crayons on gigantic sketch pads. Or purple sharpies, or those China black art pencils. There are no rules in your laboratory. You can write what you want, write at two in the morning, write backwards or make everything rhyme.
And then having an office, too, is a useful arrangement, because that’s where we organize our thoughts, make logical decisions and mold the raw material into something others would want to read.
So I ask you – where do you typically write? And do you have a different place for practice and experimentation than for polishing, editing, and molding your work into final form? If you don’t yet have a writing spot, now’s a great time to start thinking about it. And if you already have a home office or designated space, think about where your writing lab would go. And don’t forget goggles!