Here’s a stat that will surprise no one: The capacity of the average writing space is one. This has nothing to do with square footage or furniture This is about the simple needs of most writers: quiet, solitude, and enough space to stow junk. Most writing spaces are like toilets that way: designed to be used by only one person at a time.
And yet, undeniably, writers need and seek community. One of the few things I miss about working in an office is not working at the office. I miss colleagues, trading movie recommendations, showing vacation pics, betting on sports, among other non-productive activities. I wouldn’t want to go back to that full-time (and besides, who’d hired an admitted goof-off like me?)
So how to balance the need for solitude with the desire for community? I am fortunate to live within easy transit distance to the Toronto Writers Centre. This is a shared workspace, sort of like WeWork or others of the kind. Members get 24/7 access to a common room, a couple of board rooms, and a quiet room divided up by cubicles.
Why the TWC works for me is that it was designed with writers in mind. The Quiet Room is blessedly quiet. There’s a small library that includes pretty much every how-to-write guide ever published. There are lockers, a fridge, coffee. Most important, however, is the physical distance from home and all the distractions there that conspire to kill my work day.
“… there is a community. Pretty much every member is a writer of some sort, whether fiction, non-fiction, screen, television, stage or business communications.”
And there is a community. Pretty much every member is a writer of some sort, whether fiction, non-fiction, screen, television, stage or business communications. The value of this is difficult to define. It’s not about networking and it’s not about teamwork or culture, at least not in the corporate sense.
And yet there is something quite perfect about this space and the community it offers. I think it comes down to this: during those inevitable difficult writing periods, when nothing seems to be working, when the cursor hasn’t moved for days, I take a deep breath, expire slowly, and take some small comfort knowing that everyone here has likely gone through the same thing.
Bruce Geddes is the author of two novels, The Higher the Monkey Climbs (2018) and the forthcoming Chasing the Black Eagle. Born in Windsor he lives in Toronto.