March 18th, 2019

Writer space - Cheaper than a Divorce

By Susan Haught

Have you ever watched a child blow bubbles with a little wand and a bottle of soapy water? Perhaps you’ve taken a turn yourself. If you have, you’ll know there’s something magical about bubbles.

When my son was little, we’d spend Easter with friends, and every year the Easter bunny would leave a bottle of soap bubbles in the kids’ baskets. A dozen or more children would dance around in the warm spring sun and blow wand after wand of bubbles. The air would be filled with giggling kids, barking dogs, and the occasional bout of tears. Bubbles are mesmerizing, and I’d soon find my imagination drifting away and the world around me would disappear. Until someone popped my imaginary bubble.

As writers, I think we all create some sort of “bubble” where our fictional characters live, talk, play, and generally wreak havoc on our sanity, but it’s also a place where we turn off the world around us. Tune out the other humans who share our space. Escape life’s distractions. Retreat into our fictional world. Inside our bubble—however you choose to define it—is the place where the magic happens. And it’s proven once our train of thought is interrupted, it takes several minutes to reconnect, to recreate our imaginary world.

I was lucky. We have a den in our home, hubby was still teaching, and our son was away at college. Hours of quiet. Hours of happy writing. No one to pop my bubble when I sat down to write.

And then hubby decided to retire.

His naturally loud fifth-grade teacher voice was perfect for ten-year-olds, but his inside voice failed to make it home with his last paycheck. Reminding him I needed quiet didn’t work. He took up the grocery shopping chore to help out but called an average of three times for a six-item list. And somewhere between “I’m not signing my contract this year” and “Today’s my first day of retirement”, he forgot how to read the sign on the outside of the den that said Do Not Disturb. The day he tiptoed into the den and said, “Shhh…I don’t want to disturb you…” and proceeded to use the shredder was the day I was done playing nice.

Having a space to write is essential, but it doesn’t have to mean robbing a bank to add a room to your house. It can be as simple as the corner of the sofa at a designated time with a set of headphones and your favorite music. Some pack up their laptops and head to a coffee shop. One author I know cleaned out a closet and made it her writing “cave”. Another told her family if she was in bed with her laptop, she was unavailable-period. And still another fixed up a place in her basement. Reminded me of The Book Thief meets Bates Motel, but it worked—her kids refused to go down there.

Defining your needs is the first step to claiming your own writing space.

Then, decide on a budget and what it will take to make it happen—it can be as inexpensive as a thrift store desk and painting it your favorite color, or as elaborate as turning an extra bedroom into the ultimate escape. Or hey, that treehouse I saw on Pinterest might catch your eye.

When you’re finally able to sit down in your space, it’s a good idea to turn off distractions (who doesn’t get lost on Pinterest or FB?) so you can retreat into your “bubble”. A soap bubble is fragile. Once the pearlescent surface is touched, POOF! it’s gone. And so is your concentration. And in order to stay there, it’s essential you aren’t disturbed. It may take some time, but your favorite humans will get the hint.

Unless you’re married to my human. You remember, the guy with a master’s degree in education who suddenly forgot how to read?

Six months into his retirement I had written very little. Deadlines weren’t met. I was cranky and angry at him for invading my precious time day in and day out. He whooped for the Diamondbacks. Watched rodeo and discussed it loudly with the dog. Whistled. Ran the vacuum. He didn’t get it. He didn’t understand the “bubble” concept. Something had to give.

We brainstormed, even thought about finishing the attic. Adding a room (eeek!) was out of the question. I came up with a solution that fit our budget and my needs, and two months later, I vacated the den. Now my writing space is an 8’ x 12’ She-Shed in the backyard. It’s a Tuff Shed he and our neighbor finished inside, and I decorated in a beach theme. It has heat and AC, a coffee and wine bar, bookshelves galore, and a spacious desk. The best part? He knows I’m not to be disturbed unless the house is on fire or he’s bleeding from an artery. My bubble stays blissfully intact.


When I came up with the idea, it didn’t take a whole lot of convincing that this was the ideal solution. Hubby decided my 96 square foot sanctuary at a cost of $8,000 was cheaper than a divorce. 

What’s your idea of the perfect writing space?

Susan Haught writes emotionally powerful stories of family, friendship, and the healing power of love, with characters in their 30’s, 40’s and beyond. A multi award-winning novelist, Australian black liquorice connoisseur, and hopeless coffee & wine addict, Susan believes Love is Ageless and has the power to change lives--one step, one touch, one kiss at a time.

Susan is the author of the Award-winning Whisper of the Pines series—A Promise of Fireflies, In the Shadow of Fate, A Thousand Butterfly Wishes, The Other Side of Broken, and Outside the Lines.

When Susan isn’t writing, you’ll find her burying the evidence of a notorious brown thumb, teaching her hubby the difference between red leaf and romaine lettuce, or curled up with someone else’s words.

Won’t you join Susan for coffee?

www.susanhaught.com

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35 responses to “Writer space - Cheaper than a Divorce”

  1. First, I love your She-Shed! My writing cave is a shelf-and-cabinet-lined room that's part of a 1960's addition to our 95-year-old house.

    Your post is very timely for me--my husband is planning to retire in July and I'm a little concerned about the interruption factor. It may not be an issue--I quit work to write full-time a couple of years ago and I think the past two years have broken him of the habit of coming to the door of my writing cave when he gets bored and standing there looking like a five-year-old on a rainy day.

    The Wizard of Oz door hanger a friend gave me a few years ago also helps. One side is pink and says "Good Witch." The other is green and says "Bad Witch." Not even the youngest and most adorable of the grandchildren will open that door with the Bad Witch sign is out.

  2. carol says:

    I loved your post. I am more appreciative of the space I have. I won't take it for granted anymore. Thank you. I am excited to read your books. I have been reading middle grade and YA but going out today to find them! Thanks for the post!

  3. Laurie Wood says:

    Oh, I loved your post! I have a corner of the dining room as "my" writing space by that doesn't stop my husband from waltzing up with questions or regaling me with the latest-whatever-is-on-his-mind. He wants me to write but not having a door that shuts is a real problem. 🙂 I need quiet for my bubble too. Congrats on that gorgeous She-shed! I live in Canada and one of those would never work here as it would be literally buried in snow 6 months of the year.

  4. I loved your post, your space (its light, colors, silence) and your novels . . . but he vacuumed! 🙂 I will look for you at the Payson Book Festival this July.

  5. Martha says:

    My husband is in the process of retiring but thankfully I could turn one of our extra bedrooms into an office and he usually won’t venture in there. Love your she shed. I am a beach girl so your decorations are so cute.

    • Fae Rowen says:

      We were both still working, but my husband was good about staying out of my office/guest bedroom—except when it got close to dinner. Then he'd stand at the door and wait for me to look up. (Hard not to notice a 6'2" hulk in your line of sight!) "When's dinner?" I'd shake my head and say, "Let me finish this chapter." Big male sigh. "Never mind. I'll just have corn flakes. Again." And he did!

  6. Laura Drake says:

    Everyone is going to be bugging their significant others’ now, Susie. Prepare to be sworn at, under their collective breaths!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LOL. I've been wanting a She-Shed. I didn't realize until recently how big they were. Eight thousand is out of my current budget but I can star saving... 🙂

      • Susan Haught says:

        Hi, Jenny--

        I can't think of a better goal to strive for! So worth it!

        There are several sizes available out there. We already had a 12' storage shed, so we chose one that would match the one we already had since they would be placed back to back. And to be fair, my husband is anal about quality and even though my expectations were much lower than his, he insisted it be finished "top notch". The Shed itself was around $3,000 and that's built on-site and I had a house entry door and two small windows added. The $8,000 price tag also included the coffee bar, shelving, flooring, drywall, beadboard, light fixtures, and our neighbor's labor (he wasn't cheap!) I was fine with thrift store finds (light fixtures, desk, etc.) but hubby insisted...who was I to resist that kind of offer? I have to admit I'm a little on the spoiled side. Not my fault. Truly.

        That said, I'm sure you could built a She-Shed on a smaller budget, including the shed itself--Tuff Sheds aren't the cheapest around, but our original storage shed is 15 yrs old and never had a leak, crack, or buckled siding. I wish you much success in obtaining your goal--what a fun thing to save for!

        Happy Writing,
        CHEERS!
        Susan

  7. dholcomb1 says:

    quiet time away from the family. the school day isn't long enough.

    denise

  8. Susan Haught says:

    Happy Monday, Carol.
    I think it's important to appreciate our writing space, no matter what that entails, and to have some sort of boundaries our family members can respect. I'm happy you've found yours!

    Thank you for taking an interest in my books. You can find them on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

    Happy Reading!
    Susan

  9. Laurie says:

    I laughed out loud at the shredder...that's something mine would do.

  10. Margaret Ball says:

    Your writing space sounds lovely -- and it made me realize that I need to change my own writing environment. When back and knee trouble made it difficult for me to sit at a desk for hours, I took up writing on a laptop. In the living room, because that's where we have an extremely comfortable reclining sofa. But working in the center of the house, which is also the only way to get from the west side of the house to the east side, brings its own problems, from grown children invading to my husband's piano teacher chatting brightly no matter how much I hunch my shoulders and burrow into the laptop.

    Suddenly a comfortable reclining chair for the room we use as a library doesn't seem too expensive.

  11. littlemissw says:

    I have a she-shed but we call it the book-nook and it's a quiet reading shed in the garden. I love it. As far as my writing space, it's the office which I share with the kids and hubby. *sigh* It's quiet when they're at school but I must admit, picking through the glue sticks, pencils and reams of paper can be frustrating at times. And then my husband comes in and waves his hands at my notes and things littering the desk and wants to know how I can work like that. It would be nice to have my own space. That tree-house sounds good.

  12. LOL! Excellent post and congrats on the cute she-shed!

  13. Susan Haught says:

    Good morning, everyone.
    Apologies first...due to a technical glitch, I was unable to reply to yesterday's comments. Unfortunately, the glitch is an ongoiing thing (according to one of the administrators) so I'll address each of the comments as a separate comment of my own and hope you're able to see them.

    Thanks so much for your understanding.
    CHEERS!
    Susan

  14. Susan Haught says:

    Hi, Jeanne--

    Your writing area sounds amazing! I grew up in an old house (85 yrs young) and the memories...they don't build homes like that any more. I adore the Good Witch/Bad Witch door hanger! What a fabulous idea.

    Congrats! on hubby's impending retirement. Having hubby home 24/7 was a huge adjustment for me (I'm very fond of my 'alone' time) but it's not always the case. I think they all have that 'five-year-old on a rainy' look at times...I think it's in their DNA.

    Happy Writing,
    Susan

  15. Susan Haught says:

    Hi, Cricket--

    Thank you for the kind words, and I'm happy you enjoyed my books.

    I love the calming colors of my She-Shed too. We don't get to the beach much, so I brought the beach to me! And yes, hubby vacuums and he now knows the difference between romaine and red leaf lettuce, but it took some time and a whole lot of patience. (he still calls me every. single. time.)

    I'm looking forward to seeing you at the Payson Book Festival again this year as well! So much fun to connect with other writers...and I'm so jealous of your cabin in Colorado. Portions of my books are set in Colorado--my mother was raised there so it holds a special place in my heart.

    Happy Writing,
    Susan

  16. Susan Haught says:

    Good morning, Laurie Wood--

    Oh...I know exactly how you feel. It's wonderful to have the support of family members, but if they aren't writers, they don't seem to comprehend the need for total concentration. It's tough sometimes to get the point across.

    It sounds like your area of Canada gets a lot of snow. We recently had the worst snowstorm (yes, it does snow in Arizona) since 1984. I measured 33" in my back yard and on top of She-Shed! Needless to say, I was a bit nervous, but it melted quickly and all is well.

    Happy Writing,
    Susan

  17. Susan Haught says:

    Good morning, Martha--

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I do love the calming colors and decorations. We don't get to the beach often, so I brought the beach to me. My brother lives on a sailboat off the coast of Mexico, so on his last visit he brought me some beautiful shells, a shark skull, and a dried puffer fish--he's really cool (my brother AND the fish)

    Congrats! on hubby's impending retirement, and best wishes for turning your extra bedroom into your special place. Gotta love it!

    Happy Writing.
    CHEERS!
    Susan

  18. Susan Haught says:

    Hey, Laura Drake--

    Good morning--although it's probably afternoon for you since you rise so doggone early! I'm not a morning person and your early morning cheer is to be envied. Thank goodness for coffee.

    I'm prepared for the proverbial itchy nose...If anyone is interested, puppy-dog eyes help the cause. Dragging them to Home Depot is a sure winner. And tears. Not a gusher, just a trickle down the cheek. Or two. Just sayin'

    Happy Writing.
    CHEERS!
    Susan

  19. Susan Haught says:

    Hi, Fae--

    I'm still chuckling about your comments concerning hubby and dinner. I have a feeling this is a common thread that connects most of us...cold cereal companies would go out of business without writers I'm afraid! Now I take one day out of the month, cook like crazy, and freeze small meals so my husband can reheat and eat whenever he wants. Win/win!

    Happy Writing.
    CHEERS!
    Susan

  20. Susan Haught says:

    Hi, Denise--

    I hear ya! I didn't start writing until my son was in college, but hubby was a teacher and I know how short the school day can seem. It can't be easy finding time while kids are still at home. Hang in there.

    CHEERS!
    Susan

  21. Susan Haught says:

    Good morning, Laurie Evans--

    Right? I seriously think it's part of their DNA.

    Best wishes in your writing adventures...maybe hide the shredder. Just sayin'.

    CHEERS!
    Susan

  22. Susan Haught says:

    Good morning, Margaret--

    I'm so sorry to hear of your back and knee problems. I had back surgery four years ago, so I can definitely relate.

    A recliner of some kind in a more private area sounds wonderful and the perfect solution! I'm cheering for you and hope you're able to realize it soon. And you're right...sometimes a small investment reaps the most reward.

    Happy Writing.
    CHEERS!
    Susan

  23. Susan Haught says:

    Hi, Wendy--

    Your She-Shed sounds amazing and the perfect place to curl up with a book. I use mine for reading as well, but I try to limit the time I spend to writing so when I step over the threshold, my mind instantly gears up for work.

    Sharing space with others isn't easy. My hubby was the same way with "stuff" scattered. I didn't want anything to be moved and it drove him crazy (he's a better housekeeper than I am and much more of a neat-freak). I don't have to worry in my shed. Everything is in perfect order---mine!

    I wish you the best in your writing adventures.

    CHEERS!
    Susan

  24. Susan Haught says:

    Hi, Sharon--

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I do love my She-Shed. We don't get to the beach much, so I brought the beach to me and it has worked out beautifully!

    Thanks again.
    CHEERS!
    Susan

  25. […] that writing routine might include a specific place to write. Susan Haught considers setting up a writing space, while Daphne Gray-Grant asks: is it worth having a tidy place to […]

  26. Julie Glover says:

    When I moved into the extra room, I thought it would be my office exclusively. Then my husband decided to move in, even wanting us to share a desk. I said no to that latter part, but he set up a desk on the other side of the room. Soon, my teens moved in too. I did finally have to make it clear that I was still working, even if it that involved reading a website or scanning Facebook or perusing a book. Now, I get more time alone in the office (teens moved off to college), but it took a while to get that groove.

    That she-shed looks awesome though! I'm taking notes for what I want in the next house. 🙂

    • Susan Haught says:

      Oh, my, Julie. I can't imagine. It was hard enough with one other human in the same house. Yes! Your writing area should be a priority and seeking that special area for your next house sounds awesome and FUN! I enjoy "going to work". I treat writing days as work days (eh...it IS the hardest "work" I've ever done), dress as I did for my day job and hit the She-Shed. It keeps me more focused...there are those days, like now, when the flowers are blooming that potty breaks tend to be a bit longer than usual. A break for the brain as well.

      I hope your writing space in your next house is the perfect space just for you. Planning for it will make it happen. Best wishes!

      Happy Spring,

      Susan

  27. Ann G. says:

    Ah, Susan, you have touched a nerve, based on the number and length of replies to your excellent post. My workspace is in our very large master bedroom with a peaceful view of the back yard, but my retired husband waltzes through anytime he needs something from his bureau, the bathroom, or to ask me a (usually) unimportant question that could have waited until lunchtime. He, ironically, has the separate bedroom as his own office, which, even though he's not working, provides us with much-needed sanity: he is a clutterbug, and his clutter stays in his office. We have a third bedroom I've considered converting to an office, but it is now our guest room, and there would be no place for guests. I've considered setting up a screen around my desk. The only solution that generally works is for me to close the bedroom door, but even that is not perfect. I like the good witch/ bad witch sign idea.

    • Susan Haught says:

      Good morning, Ann--

      Boy, I hear your dilemma loud and clear. That's basically the reason we built the She-Shed. It doesn't seem to click in a non-writer's head that a simple disruption causes our imaginary "bubble" to pop, and getting back into it can be time consuming and frustrating.

      Is there any way to set up a corner for yourself in the office? Maybe compromise on a timetable? Or "rules of engagement" so to speak? I don't know your particulars, so it's just a thought. And I agree, we all need a guest bedroom, but maybe a corner in it for a desk? And then you could order that Good/Bad Witch sign for the door handle!

      I love that your current space has a view. I adore that about my shed--I can let my thoughts wander while I watch the #DemonSquirrels (they've destroyed our patio furniture and tried to build a Hilton Hotel in our attic) race around the top of the fence, and the hummingbirds (Jon Snow & Daenyrs) fend off threats from the undead. Rufus hummers are ruthless!

      I wish you the best in finding just the right space. Once you do, you won't know how you got along without it.

      Best wishes,
      Susan

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