One of the things I’ve really missed these past few months is working in my favourite coffee spots – Thom Bargen, Café Postal, Miss Browns. A bit of an indulgence, for sure, but I thrive on the ambience in the room, the clatter of cups, coffee and plates, the conversations of others, and the different view on the world.

I can usually work anywhere, as long as I’m in the right headspace, but occasionally I need a change of pace and scenery to keep me on track – hence the coffee spots. And because I’ve been at home pretty much nonstop since mid-March, I’ve had to create the right space here whenever I’ve strayed off course.

I first heard about pocket universes in Episode 6 of Season 5 of the American science fiction television series Fringe, created by J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci. ‘Walter’ created a pocket universe in which to hide a particular element of his plan to defeat the Observers. To get in, he had to retrace his steps in a complex sequence that was literally hidden under the carpet. Of course, it all makes sense if you’ve watched the show, but suffice to say the pocket universe is invisible – unless you have the specific instructions on how to enter it – and it looks quite a bit different to what you might expect.

Fortunately, pocket universes are fairly easy to create, if you’re willing to look, see and inhabit.

Other than being a catchy tag that grabbed my attention, for me, a pocket universe is a place or a space that I can easily access in order to focus on a task or project. To commit to the universe – and indeed to get into the universe – my specific instructions are to designate an amount of time, stick to that schedule, shut out all distractions, gather round me everything I need, and be prepared to go wherever it leads. A different universe – or zone or headspace – for each project I am working on.

Right now, I have five universes on the go, each in a different location:

  • dining table for plays and screenplays where I see the big picture and contemplate ideas and characters,
  • comfy chair for editing and reviewing where I explore the world on the pages in front of me,
  • small desk for writing where the story creates itself as the words flow freely from my head and my heart to the screen or the page,
  • standing desk where I edit onscreen and act out what I’m reading, and
  • neighbourhood streets and parks where I find ideas, stories and images to include in current and future projects.

A different pocket universe for each project where I am fully immersed in the moment and open to all it offers.

Works for me, Maybe it will work for you.