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March 11, 2010

When a Zebra's In The Zone, Leave 'Em Alone

Kate Hart
For this title to make any sense,
you must have seen the movie
Madagascar. If you haven't, go
watch it. And the sequel. Now.
This week, Cory's "How Writers Do It" series addresses "Getting Into the Zone." What goes into the creative process of writing a novel, specifically the author's mindset and environment?

I'm going to address this quite literally, for two reasons.
  1. When I picked On Writing for this series, I didn't realize the book has no index. The first copy I read was a hardback library book and luckily, I took notes with page numbers. Unfortunately, the copy I bought since is a paperback... with different page numbers. Which leads me to...
  2. I have notes written down on this very particular aspect of the question, and no time to re-read the rest of the book tonight. It's bad enough that I'm writing a blog post on my husband's birthday. (Don't worry, he's fine. He's watching basketball.)

So! What does Señor King have to say about physical writing space? He thinks you need a place away from distractions, dedicated just to writing.
"Like your bedroom, your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream."

But not at the expense of the rest of your life.
"It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around."

Cute & cuddly, boys. Cute & cuddly
I guess my personal take would be: Must be nice. I would LOVE to have a personal writing space-- Laurie Halse Andersen's writing cottage, anyone?-- but at the moment, I don't have that luxury, though I certainly don't begrudge them theirs. They've earned it. But as I posted a few weeks ago, I'll be earning mine holed up in my bedroom or hiding on the deck for the time being. Maybe with a big sign that says "I'M IN THE ZONE. LEAVE ME ALONE." Or some penguin bodyguards.


  1. Penguin body guards = <3 <3!!!

    On a more serious note, I LOVE Madagascar so that makes it okay I don't like the Black Crowes, right?!

  2. that's one of the best quotes from ON WRITING. I am very much guilty of needing everything to be perfect before I write -- not tidy, necessarily, but I need the right music and the right mouse and a comfy chair and to be properly fed and caffeinated. Something to work on. Maybe I'll attempt to write in a closet with a pad of post-it notes and a crayon. That would be an interesting exercise.

  3. I am so guilty of making my writing the center of my life. It's a rough habit to break when you're in the sweet spot. And all to easy to ignore when you're not. And I'm a huge fan of Penguins of Madagascar.

  4. Oh, I love that quote--it's something I would do well to remember sometimes! And I hear you on the home writing spot! :D

  5. "Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around."

    AHHHH!!!! Love this!

    Oh, and by the way, I'm 85% Free-Spirit. Dude, maybe we should combine forces! Lol!

  6. I want penguin bodyguards, too! Maybe if I moved to Antarctica...Hmmm, my writing room would have to be an igloo or something like that...

  7. Penguin bodyguards! Oh how I wish. ;]

    Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.

    This is such a perfect quote. Thank you for the post!

  8. ahaha omg i had no idea laurie halse anderson had her own cottage! *covets* *covets some more* i know what you mean though. i'll see if i can pull some strings and find you penguin bodyguards. i might know a penguin who knows a penguin.


    great post!!

  9. I will have a cottage someday - I will have a cottage someday- I will... (New inspirational mantra) For now, I'll have to stick with my chair in the family room surrounded by TV, video games, second-hand IPod noise, and kids fighting. A writer's gotta do what a writer's gotta do.

  10. Like Jamie B said, sometimes you gotta work with what you have. It's...'character building?' :D

    Just wanted to say I love your blog, and going to follow it now out of sheer amazement at how funny your posts are!

  11. Thanks everyone!

    Kara-- I dunno... I have a pretty serious loyalty to the Crowes. Maybe if I pretend I never saw it. *sticks fingers in ears* la la la

    Kir, if you do, please take pictures.

    Sarah, pretty sure we would be unstoppable then!

    Thanks Michelle! Glad you're here! :)

  12. Ha! Wouldn't it be nice to have a whole room to dedicate to one thing! We can't even fit the desk in the guest room, so it goes in the bedroom, and I write wherever I feel like it (usually in the living room where I can see out of the wall of windows). I LOVE the quote about art supporting life. Very cool!

  13. Oh, Madagascar. Awesome. The penguins are definitely my favourite.

    One day, I will be able to afford a house with a study. In the meantime, I have my desk in our bedroom, facing out of the window. If I spend too long at sitting it, I get complaints, because apparently it's antisocial to disappear into the bedroom for hours on end. So my other writing spaces are the dining room table, and the couch.

    Yeah. Definitely not in danger of art taking precedence over life. Not just yet, anyway.


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