Do you close the door when you write?

Do you close the door when you write?

Where do you write? What is the space like?

Does it have a door? And, do you close it?

Lately, I’ve started closing the door to my office when I’m writing my stories. I’ve always closed it when I’m on a coaching call or attending a virtual meeting, but otherwise it remains largely open.

In some senses, why not? I’m either home alone when I’m working, or I’m not, in which case the children may need me.

The Closed Door

There’s a Stephen King quote about writing and closed doors that I’ve revisited recently:

“The space can be humble…it really only needs one thing: a door which you are willing to shut. The closed door is your way of telling the world and yourself that you mean business.”

I was struck by the structure of the sentence – ‘a door which you are willing to shut’. I had to question, was my own open door policy a reflection of an unwillingness to shut it? I remained unsure so I tested it.

Firstly I tested it at weekends. Shutting the door to my office on a Saturday morning meant shutting my children out. That was an uncomfortable sensation but actually a) in the main they didn’t need me and b) when they did, they apparently have complete blindness to boundaries and will happily crash through the closed door to issue their demands.

Reclosing the door

I began closing the door regularly on a Saturday morning for a half hour or so. Accepting the interruptions when they inevitably came and quietly, joyfully, calmly reclosing the door. Writing got done.

Then, a few weeks ago, I had my first weekend home alone for seven years. The freedom to define my day was heady. I assigned mornings to writing, evenings to reading and left the afternoon an open space in which I could do whatever I liked.

The first morning I took my porridge and my coffee into the office, excited to get back to my story. But before I sat down, feeling more than a little ridiculous doing it, I closed the door.

My office isn’t very big. In fact, it’s perfectly sized for a wall of bookcases behind me, a large window, an armchair, and a smaller bookcase to my right, then the desk in the middle and the door to the hallway on my left.

Close the door when you write

Closing the door changes the space. The room becomes quieter. The air stiller. Without the light coming in through the windows in the hallway, it’s a little darker too. Everything is closer, enclosed. The world continues to exist outside the door but somehow, as humans we are limited by our senses. Closing the door, closing off the rest of house removes, or at least reduces, my awareness, my engagement, my anxiety even, with the everything else out there.

I become more fully here, in this space. I begin to close in on me. Writing under these circumstances is a more immersive experience. I emerge, reluctantly, for a late lunch. Is what I have written better or worse in this environment? Who knows? Who cares.

I feel ridiculous confessing that this is a new discovery to me, but it is. The closed door is a revelation and one I’m locking into my writing practice.

So this is my offering to you today, the closed door. Do you close the door when you write? Do you close all the doors? Does it make a difference? Is it ever hard?

What about your writing?

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