“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”
I used to be able to get away on some weekends to write. I would hole up in a quiet cabin on the island for 48 hours of my own creative time. Some writers have the privilege of living in one place for half the year, and then moving to a different place for the other half. It’s such a romantic notion to dream of flying off to another place to engage in your art. Most writers do not have the means or the time to run off to a cabin in the woods, or secrete themselves away in a quiet hut on a tropical island with the ocean whispering on the sandy shore – most of us have regular jobs, family and financial restrictions; it’s a rare and special treat when writers can pop off to a peaceful location all on their own, away from the hustle of everyday life, and focus solely on their art.
The world is noisy – it can be difficult to focus when phones are ringing, when construction outside your building reverberates against the windows, when the roar of traffic interrupts an insightful moment – you get the picture. If I can’t remove myself physically to find the stillness to work, I have to remove myself mentally. I learned to create a space in my mind where I can travel when I need to get away to write. Drawing on real life, I can recreate the tranquil energy I crave. I can build my own intimate cabin in my mind. Every writer can do this; it’s the power of the imagination. A few moments of meditation can help me move into that space. Sometimes I use music and aromatherapy to help shift my mind to that location. In this way, I can create a room of my own at any time, in any place.
It’s not luxurious – it’s a simple space reserved inside me to escape the clutter of daily life. Virginia Woolf says “a woman must have money and a room of her own in order to write fiction”. I agree with one half of that statement – while money has its conveniences, I don’t think the lack of it should prevent anyone from writing. You don’t need money to write – all you need is a space of your own, and if you know how to unlock it, then you can visit it anytime.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.