Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Spaces We Write In

 A few years back, I asked subscribers of my newsletter what kind of office they wrote in. I got some great answers.

Author Doris Lakey offered a lot of info about her office. Her daughter called it clutter. Doris called it "sensory rich." Here's what she said:

"I designed my office/studio/craft center the year after I retired, in 1999. One of those longheld dreams come to fruition, long after the need for a "closed door" space to shut out family expired. But it feeds my spirit, keeps clutter out of the rest of the house (I chose the sleeper sofa--the exercise equipment is in the converted garage, with heat, a/c, phone and cable--everything is there but me! You'll find me in the office.)

"Some writers need a bare landscape to avoid distraction; I need a sensory-rich environment to trigger memories and feelings and my own history. My room is wall to wall paintings and prints, foreign postcards and maps, sewing machine, a u-shaped computer work area (desk plus 6' table and bookshelf), 2 filing cabinets, 2 large bookcases, foreign travel souvenirs, mementos from early childhood, a glass case filled with Victorian miniature rooms and an 1890s general store to remind me of a great-grandfather I never met. Wherever my eye wanders, there's something to write about."


My own office is a bit chaotic. I have a large bulletin board, about 8 feet long by 4 feet tall that is covered in notes and pictures. The picture above is of a Texas map I've pinned. Another author and I are beginning to plan a book tour for 2014. Then there's a desk with computer, monitor, printer, Kleenex and other assorted stuff, including a cup continually refilled with tea. To the side of the desk is a folding table with books, notebooks, Texas Book Festival volunteers schedule, and an ever-growing to-do list. And, yes, I have stacks of stuff on the floor or a side table.

At first sight, my office is unorganized, yet I don't have trouble finding things. The only distraction is that my desk faces a big window where deer, roadrunners, birds, cats and an occasional fox saunter by.


What does your office or writing space look like? Is it a hamper to getting your writing done? Or does it help your writing or your creativity? Do you like background noise or quiet?



Helen Ginger is an author, blogger, Coordinator of Story Circle Network's Editorial Services and Chair of the Texas Book Festival Author Escorts. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. Helen is the author of 3 books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series, Angel Sometimes, and two of her short stories can be found in the anthology, The Corner Cafe. Her next book, Dismembering the Past, is due out in 2013.

26 comments :

  1. Lots of sensory stimulation. Pictures, scraps of paper with quotes for books (until they go in the spreadsheet), a ball instead of a chair, desk/table/filing cabinet. Music. A TV for peeking at the news throughout the day. And windows that look out over the cove of a lake.

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    1. How does that ball work for you, Betsy? I tried that once but I ended up with an aching back.

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  2. I like it quiet, but I work in the recliner in my living room next to the double row of tall windows and a view of the deck, flowers, and bird feeders. I use a laptop and lap desk. There's usually one cat on my lap and one cat next to me. They like to "help." : )

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    1. Ahh, Diana, how smart you are. Cats are quite good at helping with the typing.

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  3. When we moved to the mountains, I commandeered a spare bedroom and used it as my office. I've got a big desk--the kind with a 'return' so it fills one wall and half of another (which means lots of room for clutter, a weakness of mine). A recliner, bookshelves, and I had the closet converted to drawers and more shelves. I do have two windows and can watch the wildlife, but when I'm writing, my monitor (a 27 inch one) is my focus.

    Terry
    Terry's Place

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    1. Ohh, I like the idea of a 27 inch monitor! We put a wall of shelves in the closet in my office. It's over filled with books. I'm to the point now where I have to donate books in order to put more on the shelves.

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  4. I write with a laptop placed on a special desk that can be raised or lowered. It allows me to sit or stand while I transfer my inspirations into words.

    Sometimes I play background music, but usually I listen to the TV on a news channel that provides the same kind of sound ambience you’d get in a coffee shop. Research shows that the noise level you experience in your local Starbucks or Tim Hortons helps to spur creativity.

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    1. You clearly are more focused than I am. Any TV or other noise distracts me.

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    2. I've been able to write in Starbucks, but never in Timmy's. Hmmm. I wonder why?

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    3. No ambient noise or distraction for me either. I need one-point focus to write and edit. Reading, too, for that matter.

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    4. I'm with you, Dani. I need quiet.

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  5. My "office" sits in a corner of my bedroom next to a window. Downsizing my "stuff" is my next goal, and I plan to eliminate two of my three printers (both lasers) because I really don't need more than one. The clutter is somewhat organized, at least for me; I know where most things are. Next big purchase for 2014: a new computer and large monitor. My current monitor is also a small TV, and my D drive (where all my files are located) is suffering from terminal bad sectors, according to my computer guy.

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    1. Oh, Linda, I feel for you. I absolutely hate computer problems. I'm signed on with a company that can do remote control of my computer and fix things for me.

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    2. LOL, Helen. I'm signed on to a company like that, too. My son.

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  6. Like Doris, my office walls are filled with things that mean a lot to me. One wall has awards. Yes, I've won a few. The rest have postcards, pictures, posters from plays I have seen or been in. And I do have a lot of clutter on my desks and bookshelves and tops of filing cabinets. A friend once told me that clutter is a sign of creativity, and I took that to heart.

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    1. Thank you Maryann. That means I'm VERY creative.

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  7. I'm hoping to have a room dedicated to my writing and creativity at some point. For now, my writing desk is on one side of my bedroom. I post a lot of motivational things on the wall that my desk faces, not all about writing, but all about making me smile and see the good I've done in the hopes they will inspire me to get some writing done.

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    1. I really like having the giant bulletin board. There are some writing things on it, but close to half of it is pictures of friends and family.

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  8. I have half a room. I do have a giant bulletin board, but since others use the room, anything I pin up leads to questions of "What does this mean?" "Who's that?", etc. As a result, the board is now used more for display than work. Irritating. Oh, for a private space and a door with a lock!

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    1. Ignore the comments, Elspeth! The bulletin board is yours to use as you see fit. Sometimes I take down everything on mine and use it to plot a book.

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  9. I've tried a number of configurations ... but the one that worked best is 6,000 miles away ... in a little on condo ... on Hilo Bay ... sigh ...

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    1. Ooh. I've never been to Hilo Bay. Where is it?

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  10. I have an office with two desks and lots of book cases, but I've still been known to take over the dining room table. LOL.

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    1. Well, yeah. Two desks and book cases take up a lot of room. Of course you have to take over other parts of the house!

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  11. Last year Rebecca Dahlke asked some of us to send pics of our workspace for Pinterest. Here is a link http://www.pinterest.com/allmysterynews/mystery-authors-where-do-you-write/ jinx

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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