A Peek at the Creative Space of Kim Ventrella
Describe your workspace.
I wrote Skeleton Tree sitting cross-legged in a dog bed, while my dog, Hera, sat on the couch looking over my shoulder. It’s true! And it was really effective. After I sold Skeleton Tree, I graduated to an official, squishy office chair, and I have since evolved to mostly writing outside. There’s something about the fresh air and openness that really helps along the creative process.
Describe a typical workday.
I also work full-time as the Children’s Department Manager at a public library, so depending on my schedule, I get up early and walk my dog. Then it’s time for tea or coffee, watering the plants and settling into my writing space. I’ll go to work at the library next, and then come home and start writing again after dinner. If I’m lucky I squeeze in some reading before bed.
List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.
My dog, Hera, is the most important part of any workspace. She’s such a kind, non-judgmental soul. Next on my list, a nice breeze. It kindles my thoughts and helps me feel connected to something bigger. Finally, tea or coffee, that is a must.
Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.
Not really. I always need either tea or coffee, even if it just hangs out collecting gnats and dog hair. I like to write in ‘blackout’ mode to minimize distractions, and I always set a word count goal for myself when I’m actively working on a project and not just tinkering. Usually 1500 or 2000 words.
What do you listen to while you work?
Nothing when I’m outside, just the normal ambient sounds. Inside, various classical playlists.
What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?
Apart from tea and coffee, mostly dark chocolate or Annie’s Bunny Grahams.
What keeps you focused while you’re working?
I like having a specific word count or scene-specific goal in mind. That way I know when I can give myself permission to stop working.
Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?
How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?
I always thought of myself as a pantser, until I had real deadlines (i.e. ones that were not self-imposed). Now, I do try to outline ahead of time to make sure I have a strong enough character arc and plot.
If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?
Besides my dog? No, what am I saying, it has to be my dog. She’s the best writing partner ever!
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?
There’s this great TED Talk from author Brené Brown called “Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count.” I love it! Basically, she says there will always be critics, and that’s okay, it’s part of the process, but don’t ever let them stop you from creating. I think that’s important advice for any writer or creative person. After all, the truly terrifying thing isn’t the critics, it’s living your whole life without daring to pursue your dreams.