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Monday, September 13, 2010

Do You Have a Writing Cave?

As I was compiling a quick online event to highlight a new venue for my business,  I received an email from a dear friend and colleague. She asked if she could throw her hat into the arena as an upcoming speaker, but she couldn't talk, she was in her "writing cave."

This lady has a great sense of humor and her speaking sessions are highlighted with pithy remarks which often have the audience rolling in laughter. I remember sitting at her feet, literally (the packed room had no more chairs and we were seated on the floor, up against a wall in a convention center) listening to her seminar on teaching children language arts through literature. As she began (without the projector and screen that had not yet been delivered to the room), she was insightful, captivating and fun. Once the audio-visual guys finally showed up and began setting up in the midst of her talk, the screen barely missed her head. She didn't falter and somehow managed to incorporate this event as if it was a planned part of her oration.

This term, "writing cave" struck a cord with me. What is a writing cave and why is this so important to an author? I believe a cave, den, office or any area where you do write should be free of interruption and definitely not contain any distractions! When I enter my cave I open an internet screen and do not turn on my email or social media accounts. I write with a focus and love the "sticky note" feature on my computer that keeps a small, vital list of to-do's handy in case I flounder without direction.

This cave is a place where I enter to work and work hard. Many of you may not know that I am a homeschool parent, and have been for many years. In my years at home with my children I find that by noon we have completed the majority of our schooling and the children spend the afternoon with projects such as art, music, listening to audio presentations or finishing subjects such as reading assignments. The five hours required each day of schooling is easily accomplished in the morning. We don't have any fillers such as changing classes or interruptions such as fire drills.

The same is true with my writing. What I can accomplish when I set out with a clear focus is much greater when I enter my cave free from clutter or distraction. I can look with determination at the project at hand and crank out page after page that might take me twice as long if I am snatching a few minutes here and there. I understand some busy people can't take the hours needed to do this in the midst of their careers. Yet, I know if you set aside time each day as your "writing cave time" you will be surprised at how much you do accomplish.

As a businesswoman, CEO, mom and wife, my loyalties are divided. But, I am driven. I am focused. When I work on a project no matter what it is, I give it my one-hundred percent undivided attention. Whether it is baking (my stress outlet) or pounding away at the computer keyboard I'm all there. This cave mentality is not innate, it is something I've cultivated through the years.

For a business to be successful it must contain the "right" ingredients, otherwise you are spinning your wheels and will eventually become burnt out and decide the effort is not worth the trials associated with the endeavor. Many consider writing a hobby and while I began my writing with a "hobby" mentality it changed fairly quickly. How often I say I wish I had known *then* what I know *now*!

Take time to plan out your writing strategy, find a cave, wherever that may be, and begin today to get those thoughts down onto paper (or word processor file). Know that you are not alone and many of us suffer from distractions from the task at hand. You will accomplish much more, I guarantee it, if you have a system and stick with a plan.


  1. I used to need total silence and a big block of time to devote to a project, but it never worked for me. There never was a big block of time and as a homeschool mom, there never was total silence or a "normal" schedule even to plan out a segment of uninterrupted time. When I learned to run back and forth between activities (homeschooling, housework, away from home activities) I began to be more productive. I slowly learned how to focus in chaos and how to get things done in short periods of time. Since my hands are failing me, I can no longer write with pen and paper for any length of time. My ability to utilize the hour or two I'm at my son's PE Day in the park or his Performing Arts class is limited to writing notes on a purple notebook. I'm actually looking at getting a small, purple lap top in order to take advantage of more of that time. So I guess my writing cave is wherever I happen to be. Whatever it is and wherever I am, I know one thing. My writing cave is PURPLE. ;D

  2. I NEED a cave!! I do best without distractions, but as y'all have noted, it's very difficult to find such a place/time when you homeschool. I finally have a beautiful desk (first new one I've ever had!) that I got a few months ago. I finished off my little non-office with a cool bookshelf & I have everything arranged just so. Now, if only those distractions could so easily be put in their places . . .