Now let’s take a peek inside her creative space and hear about how Melanie works . . .
Describe your workspace.
My office does not have a door, but it is filled with windows. The carpet is strewn with Legos from my children, while my childhood silhouette hangs on the wall. The window frames over my desk are filled with sketches, notes, and post-its—I like being surrounded by ideas while I work. My desk is a rescue from an estate sale in North Carolina with a generous wooden worktop and a drawer that sticks. Don’t mind the back left leg, which is still held together with packing tape fifteen years later!
Describe a typical workday.
Now that my book is out in the world, my workday has changed a lot. In fact, it’s taken some work to figure out HOW to work now, with so many distractions and varied responsibilities. What I’ve settled on is a pattern of purpose. Each day has a purpose, and I do my best not to stray far from it. Some days are for email and marketing and keeping up with the goings on of Counting Thyme. Other days are for writing, with absolutely no interruptions from email or social media. Most days start with a glass of orange juice and a glance at my bullet list, which keeps me on track.
List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.
1. The windows. I love looking out on the world, feeling the energy of passersby and watching the sway of the trees.
2. My headphones, which cancel out the noise of life or provide a background track, depending on what I need.
3. My accomplishment jar, where I store scraps of paper with good things written on them—a collection of moments to look back on in the future when I need a boost.
Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.
What do you listen to while you work?
What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?
What keeps you focused while you’re 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?
If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?
The best piece of writing advice I’ve ever read is not actually writing advice, but a poem I first encountered in seventh grade that has stuck with me over the years. So much of creativity is about tolerating defeat that I think it applies.
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The boughs drink in new beauty, and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
To stretch out spaces in the heart for joy.”