Where Writers Write: Dave Ursillo

This week’s Where Writer’s Write post comes to us from Dave Ursillo, a fellow Rhode Island native &  writer. If you have a rockin’ writing space you’d like to share with us, email me at kristinoffilerwrites@gmail.com.

I love to write on a subject I call, “alternative leadership.”

Alternative leadership is at the crossroads of self-realization (beyond the stigmas of self-help, not personal development, but genuinely realizing the power and beauty and limitless capabilities we all possess) and leadership (redefining what it means to be a leader and helping people reclaim the title of leadership for themselves, in any walk of life, to genuinely help people).

My writing tends to take a very personal tone, sometimes drifts into either a very poetic/prose form or, conversely, can take up a strong edginess. It evokes a lot of emotion in readers, and often treats topics of social behavior, group interactions, and how we lead our lives.

What is your writing space like?

Simple, practical. Peaceful, zen, ohm. Whether at home or on the road, at my desk or in a coffee shop, I always seek out a writing space that is an environment that serves my writing frame of mind: giving, open, sharp, poetic, creative, valuable. 
At home, I like to keep sparse reminders within eye-shot like notes-to-self (currently notes like, “Feeling precedes, then facilitates, action.” and “Serve strengths, measure in ease, simplicity, joy.”) and inspiring books (poetry from Hafiz and Rumi, Emerson and Thoreau, works from the Dalai Lama and more), which always litter my desk. I like to have brilliant words surround me. They serve as great queues for my writing: pushing myself to up the ante and truly serve others with the words I write.
 

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

I keep a very strict routine of keeping no writing routine at all. Like Orwell’s 6th rule of writing, break any of your own rules when they don’t serve you. Routines make me feel boxed in, and with an art form like writing I believe that you need to go when the flow strikes. 
I try to write every day, but often there are stretches when I don’t write for a few days. I really enjoy writing when I feel it, instead of trying to “will” it. I don’t subscribe to the tortured artist routine or believe in writer’s block — writers tend to keep to many self-imposed rules, restrictions, preconceived notions about their craft which only complicates things. Just be open, clear your mind, and flow.
 

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

Today my writing space is pretty make-shift and made to travel: to move, to breathe in new scenes, to experience new faces and see life being lived. That fuels my writing. I’m a nonfiction writer so experiencing people and regular, ordinary living situations serves as incredible and endless inspiration to me.
  

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

Writing overlooking the water — or any scene that screams “life.” A New York City street currently screams life to me when I write these days. I love the scene of a quiet beach just as much — different views, but they all serve my writing purpose: give, give, give.
Dave Ursillo is a former politico insider turned alternative leadership writer, author and speaker. His debut nonfiction title, Lead Without Followers, is a personal tale and political analysis of what it means to be a leader in today’s desperate world. He speaks, offers 1-on-1 leadership coaching and blogs at DaveUrsillo.com.

Where Writers Write: Ollin Morales

This week’s Where Writer’s Write post comes to us from Ollin Morales, a writer with a very unique take on writing spaces. If you have a rockin’ writing space you’d like to share with us, email me at kristinoffilerwrites@gmail.com.

I started a blog about two years ago (Courage 2 Create) chronicling the process of writing my first novel. I had no idea that people would read the blog, but not only did people start reading it, they liked it. They really liked it. The blog has become so much bigger than my own private little journey and me: it’s gone on to inspire others to follow their own passions.

The blog seeks to inspire people to create the kind of artistic work they want, and create the kind of life they want. When I began, I was writing the blog for myself. My intention was to get myself to write my novel (I had been postponing it for about two years). That really was how I started.

No grand dreams. I thought that maybe, in 5-10 years I’d get someone besides my sister to read it. But other than that, I really didn’t think anything would come of it.

But, as the blog grew, I began to commit myself more and more to helping people do what I had done, because I realized that me and my readers were both on similar journeys. I realized that my personal struggles weren’t personal at all. They were universal.

What is your writing space like?

There is no better “space” to write than the space I currently inhabit. It doesn’t matter where it is.

If the” space” where I write were to matter to me, and then I wouldn’t get any writing done. I would place too many qualifiers on my writing routine that way.

 I’d say, for instance: “I can’t write today because I’m not in my favorite coffee shop, or at my home office, or its raining, or I’m tired, or I’m in a bad mood, or I’m missing my favorite red pillow that I like to sit on, etc.”

Those qualifiers are blocks–ways in which I make excuses and put off the writing.

So, the best “space” to write for me is “no space.” Which is another way to say “every space.” Or “all space.”

Basically, I know that wherever I am, I can create the perfect conditions to write. I don’t need a specific space. I can always create the ideal space to write in. (You can do this, too.)

In a way, I am the perfect space to write in.

Thus, in order to get my writing done, I try to inhabit the space of “me” at all times. That “space” is a space of openness, honesty, patience, non-attachment and being.

You might call this response “overly philosophical,” or even “cryptic,” but I call it “incredibly practical.”

No matter where you are, if you ask yourself to be open, honest, patient, and if you ask yourself to not grasp at anything and simply be yourself, then you’ll find that you’ll get a whole lot of writing done that way.

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

My true writing routine is “flexibility.” That’s the best routine.

I’ve had times when I was writing 20 hours a week, times when I wrote only 4 hours a week, and times when I didn’t write a single word. I don’t ask myself to conform to my writing routine, I ask my writing routine to conform to me and my current situation. This gets rid of a lot of stress on my part. Because my work life and social life are always in constant flux–always changing–a rigid writing routine would have me in chaos pretty much every day of my life.

So, I don’t have a rigid routine. I keep it flexible.

Sometimes I’m just too busy to write, so my routine adapts accordingly.

Sometimes, I have plenty of time to write, so my routine adapts accordingly.

 I recommend creating a routine that adapts to you and your schedule. Not the other way around.

If you do this, I will promise you that you will write with greater ease and peace.

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

That it’s nearly impossible to describe, and even harder to implement, but that once implemented, it creates miraculous results.

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

I don’t strive for any writing space other than the one I currently inhabit. (The space of “me” that I talked about previously.) To ask for a better one would be to fall into the fatal trap of grasping and attachment. It would mean that I would have to wait for a “the ideal writing space,” and would always be dissatisfied with the writing space I currently have, because it’s not the “ideal space” I have pictured in my head.

There is no writing space that is totally perfect, anyway. A writing space will always have its shortcomings.

The writing space I currently inhabit is the only one I have at the moment. So it is the best writing space I could ever have.

Why would I want anything more?

Ollin Morales is a fiction writer, blogger, freelancer, and ghostwriter. His blog, Courage 2 Create, chronicles his journey as he writes his first fiction novel. His blog offers writing advice as well as strategies to deal with life’s tough challenges. His blog was named one of The Top Ten Blogs for Writers by WriteToDone two years in a row (2011, 2012).

Where Writers Write: Tiffany Clarke Harrison

This week’s post comes to us from Tiffany Clarke Harrison, a copywriting fiction-lover. If you’d love to share your rockin’ writing space with us, shoot me an email at KristinOffilerwrites@gmail.com or holler at me on Twitter.

Fiction is my first love.  We’re in a seriously committed relationship only rivaled by my marriage.  Luckily, neither my husband nor my words are the jealous type.

I also rock web copy for creative women entrepreneurs, helping them celebrate their delicious talents with content that doesn’t bore readers to death.  People can’t hire you if they’re dead, right?  Totally.

My writing space is the 4×3 corner of my bedroom that inhabits the simplest Ikea desk and a glorious garage sale find of a weathered, farmhouse chair.  It is the one spot of my room where unfolded laundry is not permitted, and layers of hot pink, green, Coldplay lyrics and house music are encouraged.
Or, at times, a blank surface and silence water my words with the greatest inspiration-it gives them room to breathe and come alive on the page.
 

What is your writing space like?

 It is uniquely me, depending on what I need that day. If I need a burst of color or a particular sound to help set the tone for my work that day, I add it.  If not, I take it away.  It is uncluttered; a space where I can keep my mind on my work and not fiddle with, say, bills sitting on the corner of my desk.  My go to inspiration books and creative cues are always around (e.g. After You’d Goneand The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) and help me through the rough spots.

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

I keep a writing routine for work-I generally write on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday mornings and edit on those evenings.  My fiction happens when it happens.  (I wish it happened more often.)  I plan on carving out time twice a week for it as well.

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

It’s mine!  I’m reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and was so inspired to claim a space to write and make it mine.  My home is small and this corner of my bedroom by the window is just perfect.  The scenery is lovely year round.

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

I actually have 2 ideal spaces.  The first is so cliché, but Diane Keaton’s home in the movie Something’s Gotta Give.  A place on a quiet beach, lots of windows and light.  It’s perfect.  The second is probably equally cliché: a small apartment in New York City full of the eclectic industrial vibe.  There’s just so much to draw from creatively in that city.

Tiffany Clarke Harrison is a purveyor of prose and web copy rocker at blahcubed.org. She believes that ladies rock this world with soul-shifting vision, and delicious talents that seduce your face off, and writes to help aspiring women entrepreneurs turn creative hobbies into creative businesses with fun and engaging web content. You can connect with Tiffany on Twitter: @blah_cubed.

Where Writers Write: Olivia Bowen

This week’s post comes to us from brand and copy editor, Olivia Bowen, a super-talented writer I was lucky enough to meet via Twitter (where else, right?). If you have a writing space you’d love to share with us, shoot me an email at kristinoffilerwrites@gmail.com.

 While writing is certainly part of my work, I actually do more editing for clients, which I love. A rather unsuccessful college creative writing class helped me realize that making up stories is not where my talent lies; I am, however, skilled at helping others refine their ideas and expression so that what ends up on the screen or on the page is exactly what the author had in mind—only even clearer and with more sizzle.

As an editor who writes, my space needs to be part resource center, part inspiration hub, and comfortable enough so I can be there for hours on end, but not so comfy that I forget I have work to do. Here’s what I’ve come up with to meet those needs.

What is your writing space like?

I work from home, so I was able to create a writing and editing space that meets my specific needs. My husband recently helped me revamp the office to be more ergonomic—with all the time I spend working at my desk, having a setup that’s kind to my back and neck was a priority.

Because working with language is such a synthesis of heart and mind, I’ve filled my office with objects and resources that speak to both. I’m a sucker for reference books and probably have more volumes on grammar than many classrooms do, but I also keep more spiritual touchstones at hand: a framed picture I took of a Buddha statue in Tokyo, a daruma doll that reminds me to have patience but stay focused on my goals, photos of my family, and a vase crafted by a talented Philly-based potter that I fill with flowers or herbs whenever I can.

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

I’ve tried to establish a routine in the past, but finally accepted that one of the things I like most about working for myself is having the freedom to write and edit when the mood (or deadline) strikes. A typical day starts around 9:30, but I don’t really “warm up” until at least 11. Editing projects require me to be really sharp, so I try to work on those from between 11 a.m. until 4 or 5 in the afternoon.

Then I’ll take a long break and go to yoga, make dinner, or just give my brain a rest and watch some Law & Order. I’ll usually get back to my computer for writing projects around 8 or 9, when my creativity peaks, and will work until around midnight if the words are flowing.

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

Before I decided on a language-based career, I strongly considered a PhD in art history. Now the art is pure passion, so my office has some gorgeous original artwork and prints. A dear friend recently painted an East of Eden-inspired piece for me (two, actually, but only one is in my office); my aunt created a rich watercolor as a wedding gift; I have a print of Lucca (an enchanting Tuscan town about which my dad is a leading expert) that was also a wedding gift; and a framed print of the Pantheon, my favorite building in the world, that I got when I was studying in Rome.

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

It would look an awful lot like mine right now—but with a view of the Eiffel Tower, more bookshelves, and a really cozy reading chair. I’ve deliberately created a location-independent business, so I hope that in a few years my husband and I can relocate to Paris for a year or two. I imagine that walks along the Seine, easy access to macarons, weekend trips to Bordeaux, and the spirits of the artists who’ve worked in the city over the centuries could only help my craft, right?

Olivia Bowen is a brand and copy editor. She runs Olivia Bowen Communications, which focuses on helping holistic and creative entrepreneurs refine the language for their web presence—from crafting irresistible bios to proofreading websites to make sure they’re flawless. A nomad at heart, she and her novelist/educator husband live in San Diego—for now. You can connect with her on Twitter @LivBowen or join the community of logophiles and entrepreneurs on Facebook.

Where Writers Write: Jennifer Gargotto

This week’s Where Writers Write post features uber-talented Jennifer Gargotto. Enjoy this glimpse into her writing space, and remember– if you want to be featured in the Where Writers Write series, email me at kristinoffilerwrites@gmail.com.

I think every writer has a special relationship with their space. The thing about writing is that you can do it anywhere, so with that freedom comes great responsibility. No, not really, but it does leave a lot of options.

I’ve never really enjoyed working in coffee shops. I hate having to pack everything up every time I need to pee, as well as paying $3.00 for a cup of tea (hey, that rhymed! How Dr. Seussian of me). I really prefer being in my own little scattered space at home, with a full tea pot and endless cold water. I like to play my music loud, take a bath when I get chilly, and take afternoon breaks to go to yoga. I spend the day reading, brainstorming, making videos, writing posts, and bugging my boyfriend, Chase, online while he’s at work to help me with my sites (he’s a developer and a graphic designer, so his skills really come in handy).

Today I have three websites and an online course, so, in addition to those and freelance articles, guest posts, and the occasional interview I have more writing than I can keep up with. I find the more projects I have going on, the more I become a green-tea-drinking stressball, but also the happier I am, the more creative I am, and the better my work is (weird how that works, isn’t it?). 

With writing, you have to pick your moments. When I write for MsMorphosis, which is really personal and deals with really emotional issues, I like to talk to my audience with the openness and entertaining-ness of a conversation I’d have with an old girlfriend over a few too many glasses of wine – so that impacts when and how I write. I often choose to write those posts later in the evening, with an actual glass of wine, once my businesses and obligations are taken care of and I’m just relaxing with Bella and Chase. When I write for Blogging Fearlessly, the work is much more technical, so I prefer to work on it when I’m full of caffeine, alert, and on my A-game.

If you’re a writer, then your writing really has to be an extension who you are. The best way, I’ve found, to do it is to be comfortable in yourself, be comfortable when you’re working, and keep striving to be your best self. Have a writing space that reflects you. The more authentic it is, the better your work will be. I guarantee it.

What is your writing space like?

My writing space is a bit of chaos, but it’s organized chaos. The walls are filled with pictures, artwork, and lots of inspirational quotes (I guess you could say this room is the original MsQuotations). I have stacks and stacks of books and magazines, because I just can’t keep up (and reading is the most important part of being a writer!). I am big on graphs, outlines, and brainstorming – and I’m big on surrounding myself by these ideas, dreams, and visions. I have a bed for Bella, my pomeranian and the best cubicle-mate ever (ok, we work from home, but she’s still more than I deserve). The mug on my desk is for green tea, which I drink by the gallon while I work. I’m also in a Canada Dry sparking water phase ever since I gave up diet coke, so I’m drinking that by the (enormous) bottle as well.

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

Hmmm… yes and no. I have deadlines – Monday interviews for Blogging Fearlessly, two posts a week on each Blogging Fearlessly and MsMorphosis, regular newsletters, guest posts, and content creation for my course that I’m launching this summer; Love, Sex, and Blogging. I also do the occasional freelance article, so that needs to be on a calendar too.  Besides that, my routine is to waddle over from my bedroom to this desk everyday, get up occasionally for tea/water/food/yoga, and besides that just sit here until the work is done (sometimes by 6 pm, often until 9).

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

For better or worse, it’s the fullest expression of me. I literally live in this little room, and there’s more magic that happens here than anywhere else in my (professional) life. I love having my own quiet work space, and I’m honored to live in a time where we can make a living writing from home and creating things.

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

If I could have any writing space in the world it would either be a little cottage in the south of France or a treehouse in the middle of a forest somewhere. I’ve always been fascinated by treehouses!

On a much more realistic note, my boyfriend and I are moving into a little house in a few months where we’re going to put together a far more structured office (with bookshelves and adult things like that) so that will be wonderful. Sharing the work I love in a (more organized space) with the person I love? It doesn’t get much better than that.

Jennifer Gargotto is a blogger, vlogger, writer and entrepreneur living in Denver, Colorado. She’s the writer and founder of MsMorphosis.comMsQuotations.com, and BloggingFearlessly.com – so if you’re interested in personal development, inspirational quotes, or growing personally or professionally online she’s your girl. Her current obsession is building her Sex, Love, and Blogging course – about discovering your passions and leveraging them to make money, build relationships, and fall in love with life – which is getting ready for release in summer 2012. If this sounds like something you could be into, get on the list at sexandblogging.com.

Where Writers Write: Kat Tate

This week’s writer in the  Where Writers Write series is Aussie Kat Tate. Enjoy this glimpse into her writing space down under, and remember– if you want to be featured in the Where Writers Write series, email me at kristinoffilerwrites@gmail.com.

I have always been a word nerd (and proud of it!). Before I could even handwrite, I would tap out short stories on my parents’ typewriter. It got to the point where I could picture a typewriter in my mind and type what people said to me.  Weirdo. Thankfully I’ve kicked that habit.

Since then, I’ve gained a journalism degree and carved an eclectic career spanning news and features writing, public relations, professional organizing and online writing and editing. My current craft is writing clickable web copy and blogging about health and happiness.

After perving on (I mean, reading about) other writers’ hubs here on Kristin’s blog, I am thrilled to be able to show off my space. 

What is your writing space like?

White, bright and organized (what else would you expect from a former professional organizer?) I recently overhauled my space and with a new wooden trestle table (in white), an Eames leather chair (in white) and lots of gorgeous stationery (in pink. Just kidding…in white). I also just added a lovely little orchid in a white pot, for a splash of color.

I find it really hard to work in a jumbled space, so I keep research and paperwork filed away in the bookshelf. The files on my desk are for current projects; at the moment they’re stuffed with travel article clippings, as I’m off to India and Thailand soon and will be writing a few features when I get back.

I’ve run out of space in the bookcase, as I can never throw a book out! I’ll need to buy another unit soon, or start storing books in my closet. Or I could just stop buying books…nah, that’ll never happen!

On top of the bookcase are some precious keepsakes, a photo of me and my partner and a white wooden ornament that spells ‘love’. It was a gift from a dear friend and it reminds me to always work and live for love.

Since I’m renting, my writing area is restricted to a corner of my bedroom. My favorite thing to do on Sunday mornings is pick up the newspaper from the corner store, pour myself a bowl of muesli and mug of tea and sit at my desk in the sparkling sun. I then get cracking on my work, with Sydney’s streets stretching beyond the sashless windows.

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

While my space is organized, my mind is frantic and forever whirring. I’m also juggling freelancing with a full-time editing gig, so my routine is more ‘steal half an hour here or there, while watching Toddlers & Tiaras’ than ‘do A, then B, then C.’

That being said, my partner reckons I’m the most disciplined person he knows, as once I turn on my laptop I can type for hours without a break. Combined with my annoying need to finish a project as soon as I’ve started it, this means I will work well into the night to get my writing done. I imagine that as I pick up more freelancing work, I’ll need to come up with a better routine!

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

It’s white! I’m not sure if that’s unique, but I do find a white space helps me focus and be more creative. I suppose it’s a metaphor for a blank canvas, ready to be painted with (what I hope will be) wonderful words!

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

Picture this: white (haha) chiffon curtains billow in the breeze. A faint salty scent wafts around the room. Beyond the window, dolphin fins duck and dive in the shimmering sea. A timber deck overlooks an endless stretch of pristine sand. Inside, the walls are lined with rows and rows of beloved books, dog-eared and worn. I sit at my deep desk and write, as the rich-red sun slowly slinks behind a distant island. I used to live in the beachfront suburb of Cottesloe in Western Australia and this setting was on my doorstep. I would love to be back there to write (but combine its spectacular sights with Sydney’s convenience and lifestyle).

Kat Tate lives in sunny Sydney, Australia. She works as an editor and a freelance writer for a range of corporate and SME clients. Her weakness is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which she discovered on a recent trip to the US. She blogs about her search for enhanced health and happiness at www.kattate.com and tweets at @kattate1.

Where Writers Write: Heather Stanfill

This week’s writer in the  Where Writers Write series is my dear friend Heather Stanfill. We were MFA buddies who have stayed close since graduating. Enjoy her post, today! And remember– if you want to be featured in the Where Writers Write series, email me at kristinoffilerwrites@gmail.com.

Hello all!  My name is Heather Stanfill.  I’m a fiction-writer-in-progress and a freshman English Comp teacher at Malone University.  One of my most prized possessions at the moment is a tee shirt that reads: “I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you for someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top—Your English Professor.”  I have so far resisted the urge to wear it to class.

I write mainly short stories but have been playing with a gob of words that are debating between coalescing into a novel or a novella.  I would love to write humor but find that most of my work turns out quietly tragic with (what I hope are) moments of hope.  If I had to describe my writing style in one word, it would be Midwestern.

I hail from Bolivar, Ohio with my husband David and our adorable but mischievous cat Bandit (he will jump great heights to steal most any people food—bacon, Wendy’s Frosty, sour cream, the list goes on).  Besides writing, I’m also passionate about scuba diving, gardening, traveling, cooking, scrapbooking, my church, and of course reading.

Thank you, Kristin, for allowing me a spot on your blog!  It’s a pleasure.

What is your writing space like?

I have a desk that was once my dad’s and has followed me through my childhood with many coats of paint (from a plain whitewash to pink with roses to black to its current incarnation).  It is currently in my “writing room”/office/spare bedroom/storage room.  The space’s multi-purposeness and lack of direct sunlight has led me to become a nomadic writer.  Thank goodness for laptops.  I find myself most often writing on our living room couch and in various empty rooms on Malone’s campus.

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

 Currently, I am in the process of attempting to establish a routine.  On mornings when I am not deliriously tired, I try to arrive at work early, find an empty classroom, and write until I have to teach.  This has been most productive.  Otherwise, I fit in my writing between grading papers and typical house chores.

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

I love my desk in my writing room.  I decoupaged the top with quotes about creativity printed on an Old-World-looking parchment paper.  I also enjoy my British décor.  Someday I will manage to mount my British flag on a canvas and hang it on the blank wall in my space.

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

I had the privilege of staying at a friend of a friend’s lodge on Squam Lake in New Hampshire.  My ideal writing space would be a small cabin with a screened-in porch and an open porch perched on the edge of that lake.  The place is wild in the best possible ways.  The sounds of the lake water lapping on the rocky shoreline and the eerie loon calls are both calming and inspiring.  And when it rains, the woods give off a mossy, fresh smell that’s intoxicating.

Of course, that’s only in the summer.  In the winter months, give me a cabana on a beach with a palm tree for shade and a cooler of cold beer.

Heather Stanfill is a graduate of Lesley University’s MFA program.  She resides in northeastern Ohio, writes when she can, and spends the rest of her time keeping her husband, cat, and English Comp students in line.