Space matters

grovemade-694870-unsplashWhat is your ritual to enter into the spirit of writing? Clean the room first? Listen to right music? Sit for a while just staring out of the window? These are some of the routines that came up to my mind when I listened to a presentation on academic writing at a recent conference on Academic Timescapes in Prague. Many of us seem to need some kind of rite of passage to get into a right mood of serious text production.

But what kind of space is needed for these rituals? At the last Nordwit meeting we talked a lot about the importance of space. This goes for academic writing too. At the Prague conference I heard about a new and trendy university building abundant in glass, open space and possibilities for continuous interaction and bustle. For some, this architectonic elegance was a real nightmare, which made concentration on writing more or less impossible. In this situation, one of the most bizarre coping methods was to flee to the fire escape, the only space available in the university building for reflection in peace and quiet.

Space matters, both physically and mentally. It is no wonder that people so often say that they go to the university only to teach and admin, for writing they stay at home. Home offers a protected space and therefore it is a cosy, intimate and safe place to write. Home is surely a good option, but then again, only for those who have ‘a room of one’s own’. Once more we end up with unequal conditions in academic work and career building: spatial inequalities create and reinforce social inequalities. What do your writing rituals tell about your spatial standing?

Oili-Helena Ylijoki

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