Tuesday Tip

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I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers I follow have been selected for a blog hop where they describe their writing spaces. This is the best blog hop, hands down. Getting to see where writers work is like going to Disney World to see where the “magic” happens, i.e., one artist lazily doodling while the others are on coffee break. I couldn’t help but notice although they all wrote in different places, they all seemed to have similar tools of the trade. I’m still creating my own writing area. I’ve got one room to work with and I don’t have a lot of room for furniture, so I’ve got to make every square inch count. If you’re like me, have no fear, here are some tips for creating your perfect writing place.

Location, Location, Location

A good writer can write anywhere, but let’s face it, some places are more inspiring than others. A lot of us have our best brainstorming sessions in the bathroom, but I don’t recommend setting up shop there. When looking for a location, consider the following:

1. The view

This is important. When you’re brainstorming or just staring off, what do you want in front of you? Do you want a view out of a window, or are windows totally distracting to you? Do you like staring at a blank wall or would this drive you crazy?

2. Noise level

A lot of writers are sensitive to noise. What noise we do allow, we like to control. I like writing to music but not to screaming kids or blaring television. When choosing a room, consider the noises you won’t be able to control, like a room beside a washing machine, water heater, refrigerator, or anything else that grumbles, rattles, and groans. You should avoid rooms that are too close to high-traffic areas like bathrooms, laundry rooms, and dining rooms. One of the bloggers I follow, who participated in the blog hop, actually wrote from a shed. Talk about privacy and peace and quiet.

3. Distractions

I used to live in a 750 square foot condo, so carving out my own place was impossble. Everywhere I wrote there were distractions. If I wrote on my bed, I fell asleep; if I wrote in the family room, I was privy to all the noise in the house–not to mention I was distracted by my books, everything I could see or hear out my window, my cats, the television, etc. For awhile I wrote in the kitchen. To be honest, the set up was great. I had a big kitchen table my mom refinished for me, so I had plenty of room for notes, books, and food–the latter being the problem. I don’t recommend writing in the kitchen unless you want to get fat instead of getting any writing done. I used to get up a lot to get drinks or snacks. I was right by the fridge; it practically called to me.

4. Color and smell

Studies show that certain colors inspire creativity. Green is supposed to make you more creative. The smell of peppermint is supposed to keep you alert. Therefore, a green wall and a peppermint candle make the perfect combo to help get the creative juices flowing.

The Tools of the Trade

1. A desk or laptop tray You don’t need to have a desk if you like to write on your bed or couch, but I do recommend a laptop tray if you will not be writing with a pen and paper. One reason is for safety. Laptops get very hot and can start fires if left on a soft surface like a couch or bed. Not too long ago I read about a man who died in his home because of the toxic fumes his laptop gave off as it set his house on fire. If you can, purchase a desk. I like corner desk because they take up less space. If you write from a desk you’ll want a comfortable chair as well. When choosing a desk, have an idea of what you will be putting on it, so you know how big it should be. Also, consider if you want drawers and compartments for storage?

2. Lighting

If you don’t get a lot of natural light you will want a floor lamp or a desk lamp. Don’t be like Bach and compose your masterpiece at night with poor lighting. I used to write by candle light, but I don’t recommend it. I might as well have written by moonlight. Oh, the eyestrain! It’s no wonder I can’t read at night anymore. I made a lot of poor lighting choices in the past. For instance, aside from the candle light, I had a lamp with a red shade to match my walls, but I quickly learned this lighting was more for ambience than functionality.

3. Time wasting eliminators

I really couldn’t think of what else to call them. Essentials just sounded to blasé. What I mean by time wasting eliminators is things you need to keep yourself from getting up every five minutes. This could be a trash can, coasters, phone charger, tissue boxes, pen holders, filing cabinets, etc. Anything that prevents you from wasting time. If you have to get up for it, it should be on your writing desk or a nearby table. Keep things within your reach.

4. Accessories

This is where it gets fun. Remember, this is a creative space, not a work place. You can have photos, flowers, knick knacks, toys, stress balls, or whatever you like. On my desk, I will have a light up owl, photo frames, solar owl, Frozen stationary, and a Lego Legolas.

A Portable Writing Place

So what about if you are a writer on the go? It might be hard to take all that stuff and put it in the car. Sometimes relocation is stimulating, even if you just go to the café down the street or a local park, but it’s counterproductive if you get to your destination and realize you left something essential at home.

Create a writing bag

I recommend a messenger bag or a canvas bag: Something large enough to fit a laptop, large notebook, reference books, etc.  I have an adorable messenger bag I got from Kmart that has owls on it (because I love owls). Inside the front flap is a place for small notebooks and pens. There’s other compartments inside where I can put snacks, my wallet, phone, etc.

Keep a checklist

I recommend putting this in your writing bag so you can check it before you leave to make sure everything is ready to go. Which brings me to the next topic.

What should you bring?

  • laptop (if you use one to write) MAKE SURE IT’S CHARGED
  • notebooks (for writing the old fashioned way or for keeping notes)
  • pens (to write, scratch with, and chew on, of course)
  • folders (for notes, concept art, or loose pieces of paper)
  • reference books (if there is a book you constantly reach for when you write at home, take it with you)
  • snacks (don’t write hungry)
  • beverage (I recommend water)
  • ear plugs or ear buds (if you want to block out sound or listen to music)

When you’re done, you should have a space that does not irritate, confuse, or drain you, but a place that makes you feel inspired, creative, alert, and ready to write.

I can’t wait to finish my writing space. When I do, I’ll be sure to take a lot of pictures to share with you. I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about our perfect writing place. What do you have on your desk? Where do you write?

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