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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Writing Spaces Series: Writing Rooms

Thank you for joining me for the third and final post in the Writing Spaces Series. I hope you had a chance to read about "Writing Spots" and "Writing Nooks." Now we get to explore some "Writing Rooms" or home offices, or writing studios--whatever you want to call dedicated rooms set aside for writing. 

The proverbial man cave—a spare bedroom in the basement where I can seclude myself from the rest of the world in self-absorbed isolation—provides an ideal writing environment.  A small white IKEA desk against the west wall with a roll-out tray for my ergonomic Microsoft keyboard caters to my creative comfort.  Along the north wall, five Billy bookcases, also from IKEA, contain the tomes that make a townhouse a townhome.  On one of those bookcases, within arm’s reach, stand the dictionaries, grammar guides, and how-to books that inform the writer’s craft.  Of critical importance is the swiveling Amazon Basics Mid-Back Mesh Chair that allows me to rotate effortlessly from keyboard to reference books and back again.  A couch along the east wall is a great place for quiet, cozy reading, a sine qua non of any writer’s lifestyle.  The only missing luxury is an above-ground window that I could look out of to collect my thoughts or to distract myself now and then.
            The best thing about the writer’s man cave is the feel of the place, the soul-satisfying sensation that you are at home, in your element, doing what you were born to do, with the hope that your words will benefit readers as well.

I write in the car at soccer practice, in the waiting room of the fencing gym, outside on the picnic table, at my kitchen table, propped up by pillows in bed, on a chair in my husband's study, on the couch during a football game, my parents' cabin...pretty much anywhere. But here's where I'm the most productive. This is the writing nook in my office. My research books for the project I'm working on, and outlines--in case I need to look back--are right behind me, as well as character pictures on the bulletin board.
My white board has a list of tasks I need to do, but I mostly keep cute magnets on there. and pictures.
I have a beautiful antique sugar bowl on the desk to sweeten my tea, and if you zoom, you can see a little Wonder Woman, a model cannon, Lego Shakespeare and a Klepht soldier next to it, cheering me on.
I also have stool to rest my feet on, and a space heater beneath the desk because that window gets cold in winter!

I try to get up into the office every morning by 9 and stay in there with no interruptions until 12. But, of course life happens. I like the morning hours. I feel like my brain is more alert.  

So much ridiculousness goes on in this space. I have to purge clean it at least once a week. It's always a mess. Always.

The windows are east facing and in both sunshine and moonlight, the mountain views inspire me.

I teach guitar and paint and plant flower gardens in this space. But above all, it is where my stories come alive. This space has glass doors so I can close off the turpentine smell, play loud music, write in peace, and contain the mess, while still keeping an eye on my crazy kids.

If I am ever stuck on any project, in any art form, I've found that organizing my workspace will almost always rekindle the spark. But to be honest, when this room is so messy that I can't even open the door, you can find me typing on my laptop pretty much anywhere, especially in the mountains.

My husband and I remodeled our house six years ago and now I have a wonderful little office, which was previously our formal dining room. I have a nice L-shaped desk, so everything is nearby. My son talked me into getting two monitors and now, I couldn’t live without them. I’m near a window so I can look outside to my backyard.
I have a second ‘office’ outside. We have a little gazebo, which is my writing oasis in the late spring, summer, and early fall.  We have a large lot, about half an acre, with bushes, trees, a garden, and lawn, so I’m surrounded by greenery.  I love it! My husband put up blinds on two sides and I put up a dark fabric drape to cut down on the glare while I’m working on my laptop. I sit on a cushioned swing, with a table nearby that holds stuff such as pencils, pens, a bottle of water, and a jar of small candy treats, (for me) and doggie treats for my faithful companions, who come out to keep me company. There’s Brandi (pictured) a Welsh Corgi, Snickers, a dachshund (also pictured) and a Westie who stood off to the side when I took the picture. I also have several cats, and they come out too, either to curl up by me on the swing, or sprawl beside the dogs on the large pet bed I keep there.

On days I'm going to draft or revise, I like to be pretty much anywhere but in my office. I find the internet too much of a distraction! So I'm usually in a park if the weather is cooperating, but the couch in this office is pretty comfy too. Still, I love my office (or my half, because I share the room with my husband who works from home a lot of times--talk about a distraction!). This is where I do all the business aspects of my writing. In front of my computer, I have three boards--one for my editing and formatting business; one for anything media related like reviews, my website, and my two blogs; and one for writing, which usually ends up being random things I need to add to my current WIP. On the wall to my right, you will see what my family lovingly refers to as my "stalker wall." These are pictures of the main characters in my WIP. It helps me keep track of their physical characteristics, try out their names (you can see one whose name has changed, if you look closely), and their quirks and characteristics jotted down on sticky notes beside their photo. Around the corner is my "Save the Cat" type outlining system. As I go along, I will move things around, see where I have plot holes (which will then be filled in with a bright sticky note to remind me it needs to be added). I use these sticky notes to start off my outline in Scrivener before I start writing, but then they get shuffled around as I revise. I love being able to see all of these things at once--it helps me remember where I am, where I need to be, and helps keeps things fresh in my mind! Happy writing!

I actually have two offices--one at home (it used to be the nursery, complete with stenciled butterflies, but kids do grow up) and one in an office suite my husband owns. For years I was the accidental bookkeeper for a business we own, and my pay was staying extra hours when the work was done to write without home-distractions. I became quite spoiled by my office away from home and still do the majority of my writing there. I have some writer friends who live nearby and we'll get together in the conference room of the office sometimes for write-days (a Saturday from 8-midnight or weekday while kids are at school) or write-nites (evenings from 5-midnight) but I usually write here in this corner by myself. Obviously it's very organized and conducive for creative tasks. :-) This would have better fit in the "Writing Nooks" post but . . . well, it's my blog so I can do what I want :-)

At home my office has been the catch-all for the house for a long time, making it anxiety inducing to try and produce in the space crammed with too much stuff. However, with my recent redo I am trying to change that. I've put some of the business things like mailing supplies, none-writing books, stock books, archives etc into the closet of the room or into a guest bedroom downstairs. The things on the shelves are things I love, or books I use. The Chaise Lounge ($200 on is new and, I hope, a place I can read/research/long-hand brainstorm. I'm trying very hard to keep this room "inspiring" which mostly means free of junk so that I'm not tempted to spend all my writing time reorganizing crap. You can see the edge of my IKEA desk that has my current reference books handy. As for essentials when I write, I use my laptop, always have my water bottle, and I need relative quiet. I admire people who have learned to write with their family buzzing around them, I get too snappy and irritable to do that--I hate to be interrupted. Sometimes music helps, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes internet helps, some times it doesn't. I have no writing schedule (though I usually write/work about 30 hours a week), writing goals (though I do pretty well with deadlines), special chants or charms or techniques. I mostly take my writing day by day and work through whatever might not be working that day. I love what I do and the flexibility of it that allows me to be available to my family and spend a good deal of time in my favorite place--home. I'm hoping this home office will make writing at home a better option for me. Maybe I should do a report in a year. :-)

Thank you for joining me for this blog series, I hope you gained some ideas or insight on how to make your writing spot or nook or room conducive to your craft. We are all different, we need different things and will use different processes, but there is so much to be gained from peeking in on each other's lives and seeing if there isn't something they do that can help you with what you do.
Other posts in this series:
"Writing Spots"
"Writing Nooks"

1 comment:

stanalei said...

These were really great posts, Josi. Thanks to all the authors for sharing a bit of their process and the fun places they write. And thank you Josi for pulling it all together.