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On Finding Your Writerly Bee Space


By Christine Carron

Bee space. A distance of three-eighths of an inch, and the amount of space honeybees will leave open in a hive. More than that and they span it with honeycomb. Less than that and they plug the empty space with propolis. It’s sort of like the bee equivalent of Goldilocks’ just right epiphany, but not quite. 

Goldilocks’ just right aha was about a static concept—that perfectly-sized-for-her bowl of porridge. Bee space is about movement, maneuverability. About having the room (not too much, not too little) to go where they need to go. 

All bees are in the know on this three-eighths of an inch deal. It’s the same for all honeybees. A part of me envies that. Wouldn’t it be nice if every writer knew the exact path to their honeyed success?

Even as I write that, another part rebels. No, no, no, it says. How much fun would the writerly adventure be if everything was on a preset itinerary? More pointedly for me, that same part wonders if I even would have had the oomph to start the journey, if I’d known I would be toiling in literary obscurity twelve years later.   

Ignorance, if not blissful, certainly was useful at the start. Even now as well, for who’s to say I will ever get any measure of official honeyed success on this adventure? 

Yet when I reflect upon my writerly path over the past twelve years, my overriding emotion is gratitude. For all I have learned about craft, storytelling, and myself. For all the magnificent writerly peeps I have met along the way, either in passing or more deeply. 

That includes the tricky peeps—the ones who caused me a bit (or a lot) of inner turbulence at the time. All those that crossed my path got me to where I am now: a more effective storyteller who is connected to a lovely community of like-minded souls.

Which all leaves one question rolling around my head. If there is no standard bee space for writers, is it still a useful exercise to try to figure out what our own writerly bee space is?

I believe so. But it’s important to remember that for each of us, even our unique bee space will not be a static truth. It will refine, adjust, and clarify over time as we explore possibilities and grow as writers. 

In the end, I believe our true bee space is a dance where we both lead (take chances) and follow (go with the flow). 

The only rule of the bee space dance? Proceed with curiosity and gratitude.

The Goodjelly Prompt of the Week

Here are some initial questions to help you identify your current writerly bee space:


  • What do you want to write? Novels, short stories, essays, poetry, memoirs? Something else? All of the above?
  • Do you want to teach writing? To whom?
  • How much time do you want to devote to your writing? How much time can you devote to your writing in light of your current life realities? 


  • Why do you want to write what you want to write? What drew you to that form of writing?
  • Who are your writerly friends? How did you meet them? 
  • What is a happy experience you’ve had on your writerly journey that you didn’t plan? 

What else, awesome readers? What other questions come to mind that will help you (and others) find and appreciate your (their) current writerly bee space? Feel free to add them to the comments below.

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