During our 17 years of marriage, my wife and I have moved many times. Nine different places we’ve rented or owned. The number jumps up to 15 if you include houses, apartments, and rooms that we’ve crashed for a month or more while we searched for a new spot.
I can’t say whether this is a lot of moving around, but it feels like a lot.
Each new place required its particular adjustments. Each dishwasher, for example, had its own configuration for loading. Showers had different types of knobs that needed to be turned in different ways to produce the desired results. Door locks had different quirks in how they needed to be locked or unlocked.
Each place required new attention and new habits.
In the midst of all this migration, the constant, of course, has been our relationship. We have always said that wherever we go and whatever we do, our marriage will always be homebase. It’s our headquarters, the place we know will always be there and will always be safe.
The artistic life requires the same thing: a home for your creative work that you can return to again and again.
Writing is Nomadic.
As writers, we wander around in search of inspiration, in search of the right word, in search of the perfect turn of phrase. We wander through shacks and cottages and houses and villas until we find the right spot to be. We stay in that spot for a while, maybe even get comfortable. Then, we pack it up and move on to the next job.
The writer is nomadic.
The writer is a wanderer.
Every project that you undertake — novel, essay, short story, poem, memoir — will have its own particular set of challenges and opportunities. As you write, you will learn new tricks and rediscover old ones that you thought you’d forgotten. You’ll have to turn the faucet knobs to figure out how much water you can get to flow and at what temperature.
Each new writing task requires new attention and new habits, just like the new apartment that you just leased or the new house that you finally own. (Though, in all likelihood, the bank owns most of it!)
But how do we ensure that the words will come?
At the same time, the act of writing serves as your home. You can return to it again and again and again. Sentences are sentences, after all.
Though you may have an infinite number of possibilities when you sit in front of the blank page, your craft will guide you to write sentences that get the job done.
You are a writer. Don’t despair over words and sentences. You got this!
But how? Turn to the homebase.
For me, home is a cup of coffee, the desk in my studio, and a blank sheet of paper fed into this Olivetti Studio 45. When I put my body in this chair in this situation, the words come out. Are they good words and sentences? I don’t know. That’s not for me to judge, yet. (Editing will happen, however…)
Say YES to your chair, day after day, and the words will come.
Your chair doesn’t have to be a dedicated space like mine.
- Maybe you’re a coffee shop writer who thrives on the din of the grinder and the whine of steaming milk.
- Maybe you’re a backyard person who needs the breeze through the leaves or the distant wash of tires on the highway a mile or two away.
- Maybe you’re a couch creature who sets the notebook on a pillow and grabs for your favorite pen: Montblanc or Bic, doesn’t matter.
You’re a writer.
What matters is that you build those writing muscles each day. You show up. You do the work. You go to your homebase, and you bring with you a little faith in the Muse because you know that she honors those who show up day after day.
The Muse is fickle like that. She needs some stability before she becomes a regular visitor.
So, build her a home!
Do you have an amazing homebase for your writing?
I am always interested to hear how others go about their craft. Where do you write? What's your homebase? Hit me up on Twitter.
Also, if you've got thoughts on writing and would like to be featured as a guest writer, feel free to send me an article or two!
Originally published on Medium.