Where Writers Write: Hannah Jones

After a short hiatus, the Where Writers Write series is back for more glimpses into where our fellow writers actually do their work. Please welcome Hannah Jones to the series this week. If you’d like to share your writing space in this series, shoot me an email at kristinoffilerwrites@gmail.com.

I have a full time editorial position at a social science publishing company (which I love!) so my own writing is something I squeeze into the margins of my daily life.
The academic nature of the non-fiction manuscripts I work with during the day provides a nice balance for when I come home and want to write creatively; primarily, I write young adult and middle grade fiction, short stories, memoir, and am currently hard at work writing a pictorial history book about Byberry State Hospital (in Philadelphia) that is forthcoming from Arcadia Publishing.

Because writing creatively is a treat, I really look forward to and make the best use of the one or two hours of writing time I get.

What is your writing space like?

My writing space is a 6’x 6’ corner of my living room. One desk–the one reserved for blogging, email, and bills–faces the rest of the room, the windows, and the television. The antique writing desk faces the wall and is a strictly computer-free writing space–I prefer to write first drafts by hand–which helps me avoid all distractions while creating something new.

Before I bought my own place about six months ago, I’d never really had my own official and regular writing space. Moving in and out of college dorms, apartments, and my parents’ house always prevented me from both organizing a space and setting up a regular writing routine. Since I moved into my new condo, it’s been an experiment and adventure in figuring out what facilitates my most creative and productive writing process.

At first, I was struggling with having just one desk because it was the catch-all: creative writing, bills, blogging, more bills, and junk mail all piled up on the narrow surface of my antique writing desk. Knowing I’d either have to pay bills or at least organize the mess of papers before I could dive into a new short story served as a deterrent; instead of being drawn to my writing space, I actively avoided it. I didn’t get much writing done in the first few months living here.

Now, rather than haunting my writing space, all my bills are organized and put away in colorful file folders and I only have to look at them if I pull them out to sort on purpose. With two desks, I have the luxury of reserving one desk to be solely for creative writing projects. If I want to write, it’s always clear and ready for me to start, the moment inspiration strikes me. The new desk also provides more desk space so I have room to spread out multi-page projects.

Do you keep a writing routine? If so, what is your routine?

I recently started up a routine that budgets a minimum of fourteen hours of writing time a week and so far, it’s working pretty well for me. I write two to three times a week on my hour lunch break, write for three to four hours on Monday and Wednesday nights after work, and try to write at least five hours total over the weekend. To make this work–and to really get myself to stick to the schedule–I had to create a color-blocked Excel spreadsheet. Checking in with it helps me turn off the TV or put down the book I’m reading during official “writing time” and focus. I originally scheduled myself to wake up an hour earlier a few mornings a week to squeeze in some writing before work, but it ended up being a false hope. I admire those writers who can wake up at 5 AM to write for four hours before starting the rest of their day!

What’s something unique and interesting about your writing space?

The most unusual thing about my writing space is my two desks. Not only the fact that I have two desks, but the fact that they are such completely different styles. One is an antique secretary desk that my dad gave me for my seventeenth birthday. It has carved claw feet, a thousand little drawers and nooks, and even has two secret hidden compartments. It has so much character and makes me feel “dressed up” when I write. The fanciness of it helps facilitate the daydream that I’m among the ranks of great American writers, currently writing the next great American [fill in the blank].

My other desk is much more contemporary. It has a built-in filing system for organizing messes of paper, a built-in corkboard which I use for post-it to-do lists and deadline reminders, and can be folded up and into the wall. Even though I dreamed of having two desks in my writing space, I didn’t think it was going to be possible because of how small my condo is (eight hundred square feet). But then I saw this space-saving, fold-up desk featured on Apartment Therapy and ordered it right away. Pure white, its fold-up design is perfect for conserving space when I have company over.

I have one chair for both desks, a classic carved wooden chair that I’ve borrowed from my mom’s office. I wish it could swivel and roll around too, so I could switch from one desk to the other more easily, as I’m constantly swapping desks during my writing time when I finish one task and move onto a different writing project, but for now it’s just right.

If you could have any writing space in the world, what would it look like and why?

A treehouse. One summer, I helped rebuild my childhood treehouse in my parents backyard. We ripped down all the walls, which were rotting and waterlogged, leaving just the roof and the frame. For a few weeks, with construction on hold, I would climb up there to write and it felt like I was in a glass room, surrounded by the upper branches of the forest and the wildlife, and protected from the rain (the best was staying up there to write during a thunderstorm). It was incredibly peaceful and felt sort of magical. When we finally put the new walls up, it felt closed in again, contained and normal like a house, and it lost that special feeling. Someday, I’d like to have a writing treehouse like that again.

Hannah Karena Jones is an assistant editor by day and a YA, middle grade, historical, and memoir writer by night. Her writing has appeared in The Susquehanna Review and Weave Magazine, among others, and has been awarded Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Young Adult Fiction Competition. Her book, Byberry State Hospital, is forthcoming from Arcadia Publishing. She blogs about writing and publishing at The (Writer’s) Waiting Room and tweets about everything @HannahKarena10.

3 thoughts on “Where Writers Write: Hannah Jones”

  1. Hi Kristin,

    I see you’re on a bit of a blog break, but I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this post in this series. Great idea! Always nice to get a glimpse into the daily lives of other writers. Hope you’re enjoying your summer!

    Like

    1. Thank you for the comment, Emily! I plan to get the series back up and running again consistently pretty soon. I’m working on my fiction & I started a new job late in the spring, so there have been some things to think about with blogging!🙂

      Like

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