When I first explored the concept of a writing niche, I immediately thought: fiction or non-fiction. But when I began to play with the phrase, I realized that to me, it meant more than just deciding whether to write fiction or non-fiction.
Pondering on the concept of a writing niche conjured images of me writing, comfortably ensconced in a place where all of my energies were focused on pen and paper. In real life, that wasn’t happening. I was writing either on a desk crowded with so many things, or in a restaurant. Not in my cozy writing niche.
Playing around with the phrase also made me feel how I so wanted to write at a magical time, but I had no idea what time was magical for me.
Creative non-fiction had been my genre since my short career as a freelance journalist many years ago, and I knew I wanted to stick to it. Non-fiction was also my writing niche.
But before I could begin to truly write again, first I had to find that place that would be like a cradle where I could write undisturbed: my writing niche.
So I bought a book about writing spaces, hoping to find some tips on how to create the perfect writing niche. In “Writing Spaces,” Eric Maisel helps his readers by first showing how famous writers created their writing spaces – the physical spaces where they wrote. Then he gives suggestions on how you could create your own. It could be in your home or anywhere around the world. As you read further however, Maisel says, hey wait, there’s more to writing spaces than just the physical space. You need to create the right writing space in your brain. In your emotional life as well, there should be space for writing. He doesn’t stop there. He tells his readers that they should have a reflective space, an imagined space, and an existential space within their writing space.
As for being a writer, this is what Maisel says,”To be a writer you must write, but being a writer is not about writing. The next time you worry your brain about whether you can write, slap yourself hard. Everyone can write. Your worry should be whether you are brave enough to vanish into the depths of your neuronal circuitry and come back with creations. You are a diver, not a writer; an explorer, not a writer; an inventor, not a writer; a magician, not a writer.”
The act of diving, exploring, inventing and creating magic begins not in the writing process. It starts with the creation of a writing life which includes niches within niches within niches.
It took time before I found my physical writing niche. The writing desk I’ve had for decades was not it. My writing niche turned out to be the couch beside it. Now, there’s a basket filled with notebooks on the space between the couch and the desk. I use a lap table to make it easier to write on my journals. That’s my writing niche. I feel safe there. It feels good to sit there and write. Restaurants no longer appeal to me as writing places. I have found my writing niche.
What place in your house, neighborhood, workplace invites you to spend time to write there? There’s something magical about finding that niche in your house or in a cafe. For Maya Angelou, it was a hotel room.
So this is what came out of my word play. Toying around with the concept of a writing niche showed me the gaps that needed to be filled in order to create a writing life. I saw that I needed a physical writing niche, so I searched for one.
Your own explorations may have yielded different discoveries. If nothing has come out of the time you spent on word play, perhaps you need to dive deeper? Or maybe you’re being asked to invent something for yourself?
If you’ve spent enough time on word play, you must have discovered something. Whatever the discovery, follow-up on it. Explore it, read about it, or do more word play.
Searching for your writing niches may be just what you need to create or enliven your writing life. Hopefully, word play has helped you discover that writing niches are not just about genre.