A Writer’s Writing Space

Several weeks ago, I asked my awesome clients to share a few awesome words about their awesome writing spaces. (Some of them said I overuse the word “awesome,” but they’re just being picky.) It’s a subject that fascinates me and sometimes inspires a change or two to my own writing space, so I share their responses in the hopes that they do something similar for you:

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“My workspace is an organized mess. It’s almost shameful but it’s all work-related. There are research books, calendars, appointment lists, and goal sheets everywhere. I choose for my workspace to be this way because I can find things quickly without losing my train of thought” (Cindy Sproles, author of What Momma Left Behind).

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“My writing space is anywhere I can get away from my three kids. I wrote an entire book on my phone . . . during Karate lessons, play dates and waiting in the car while my wife was in Hobby Lobby (this alone provided at least three chapters).  For me, creativity doesn’t have a home address. Since the whole earth is full of God’s glory, and God is the most creative being in the universe, creativity is everywhere” (Dan Stanford, author of Losing the Cape: The Power of Ordinary in a World of Superheroes). 

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“My preference is to sit down at my desk in my office in my condo and start banging out an MS Word file with two fingers on the keyboard of my 27” iMac. In a perfect world I am left alone and, better yet, uninterrupted. In the old days I had classical music playing in the background. Nowadays it’s just silence because I’m listening to the words” (Bill Hendricks, author of The Person Called You: Why You’re Here, Why You Matter & What You Should Do With Your Life).

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“My wife provided motivation by organizing the furniture in my writing space. She positioned my desk so I look through the double windows in our den, giving me fantastic, inspiring views. As I pause between difficult combat scenes, and look over a large, green lawn, azaleas in full bloom, and see stunning peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, peace and inspiration flow back abundantly. However, the desk, organized “my way,” has numerous files, a computer, printer, three lamps, four cabinets, bookcases, and boxes with more files all in near reach. She never complains, calling it ‘Jerry’s haven’” (Jerry Barnes, author of When Heaven Visits and the upcoming Angels on the Battlefield).

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“I live with my husband in HIS dream home—a 120-year-old Victorian he’s made into an eternal restoration project, largely unfinished save for one room he completed so I would have a writing space. My walls are chartreuse and white, giving it an energizing, clean, yet relaxing feel, that complement the hardwood floors. My glass-and-metal desk is kept company by my treadmill and favorite reading chair along with my reference library, Djembe drum (for fun), and the Klingon bat’leth I keep on my wall to remind me that I’m a warrior” (Lori Stanley Roeleveld, author of Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus).

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“Although I have a formal office with a desk, most days I write at my dining room table. The room has lots of windows; is in close proximity to the fridge, pantry, and stove; and allows me to stand or sit using my portable adjustable desk. On days when the temperature is above 60 and below 80, I write from my screened porch that overlooks our neighbor’s pond” (Lori Hatcher, author of Refresh Your Faith: Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible).

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“Beside a window, I sit in an upholstered chair with enough space to sit with my ankles crisscrossed under me. My lovely little writing desk has turned legs and an antiqued white finish. With the door open, fresh air breezes inside along with a bird’s song and the sound of rustling leaves. The scents of lavender and lemongrass waft from a candle. In this space, my senses are awakened, my imagination takes over, and I write the stories that make my heart love, laugh, and sometimes tremble” (Leslie Kirby DeVooght, www.lesliedevooght.com).

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“My writing space is in the kitchen, squeezed on a narrow section of counter between the stove and the bread bowl. We have to be careful using the right-hand burners lest my computer cord fry. But my writing space isn’t defined by space; it’s defined by time. I do most of my writing in the extreme early morning, long before the family gets up and the pressures of the day interfere. You’d be surprised what gets accomplished at 4 a.m. on this tiny counter space” (Patrice Lewis, www.patricelewis.com).

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“I surround myself with nostalgia. My desk is crowded with a 100-year old typewriter, a light-up globe, Snoopy calendar, inspiring quotes, and a picture of the three most important people in the world: my husband and our two sons. The walls are covered in my art, my sister’s art, posters of my book covers, and pictures of my boys. To quote Julie Andrews: ‘These are a few of my favorite things’ . . . that inspire me” (Michelle Shocklee, author of the upcoming Under the Tulip Tree).

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“My writing space is quiet and inspiring: my desk at home with a portrait of my mother-in-law and pictures of my favorite things on my desk. It jars my mind and motivates my writing.  It becomes my why do I write instead of how to write” (Jane Jenkins Herlong, author of Rhinestones on my Flip-Flops).

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“I have a lovely office in our log home overlooking an expansive Idaho river valley. But my writing space is the place in my head where I live, take copious notes of my world, and craft word pictures that may or may not find escape onto a page” (Pam Thorson, www.pamthorson.com).

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How about you? What’s your writing space like?

 

 

30 Responses to A Writer’s Writing Space

  1. Avatar
    Terry Whalin July 8, 2020 at 4:24 am #

    Bob,

    Thanks for this fascinating look at writing spaces. I loved the variety of answers. I am blessed to have an office with a desk and desktop computer where I can write. If I need variety or a change of scenery, I use my AlphaSmart 2000 (old technology but still works well). My AlphaSmart will hold 100 pages of text and has a full size keyboard, works on three batteries and never loses anything. I’ve used it on airplanes and in hotel rooms and a variety of places. I believe I bought my current one for $20 on ebay. It is not connected to the internet and I can just focus on writing.

    Terry
    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

    • Avatar
      Linda M. Au July 8, 2020 at 12:03 pm #

      Gotta echo the love for Alphasmarts. I use the Neo, but my first one was the AS2000. Buying that first one in 2004 was a writing epiphany for me. I now buy cheap ones from eBay so I have a few extras here to give to writer friends who might benefit from having one.

      I change the batteries in my Neo every January. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Daphne Woodall July 8, 2020 at 4:21 pm #

      I have an AlphaSmart too. I’ve not used it consistently but I love the batteries last FOREVER and you can take it anywhere. I wish I had gotten the lighted version for writing in a dark room or space.

    • Avatar
      Julie Perez July 9, 2020 at 10:27 am #

      I’m all about the view!

      Energized and inspired where there is a really big window, and an even bigger view, I feel I see best into God’s heart and have a view of eternity as I write.

  2. Avatar
    Laura Moore July 8, 2020 at 5:15 am #

    Such varied writing habitats your writes keep.
    My writing space is transient. My 13″ MacBook and I travel the rooms of our 100 year old house. From the office to the den to the the dining room and the deck (during those 7 days of tolerable temperatures in Florida). Since Floridian A/C in the 20s was open windows, we have 30 which provide me a view no matter where I find myself roaming like a ‘ghost writer’ (cheesy joke for your benefit Bob).
    No matter where I venture, the kitten discovers me to sprawl across the warm keyboard. She has written many a scene and will be duly noted in the acknowledgements.

  3. Avatar
    Nancy Lohr July 8, 2020 at 6:14 am #

    These responses are supported by William Zinsser in his book Writing Places. He tells of all the places over the years that he set his typewriter and shaped his words.

  4. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser July 8, 2020 at 6:25 am #

    It’s chiche’d, unenlightening,
    but the ambience I love
    for my favoured writing
    is a modest country pub.
    The quiet click of dominoes,
    the thunk of landing darts
    bring gentle atmospheric glow
    to literary hearts.
    The regulars are not refined,
    and the ale is not the purest,
    but willing smiles show they don’t mind
    the occasional lost tourist,
    and the mournfulest of words are when
    mine host must say, “Time, gentlemen.”

  5. Avatar
    Karen Ingle July 8, 2020 at 6:52 am #

    It’s intriguing to hear where people write. My slant-ceilinged nook has a split personality: freelance business office and novelist’s garret. A sit-stand desk and black swivel chair face the largest wall. Very businesslike. But that one taupe wall is splashed with character images, scene cards to put in order, and inspirational graphics I’ve created. My daughter’s gift of a writing companion, a tiny toy dog, smiles up at me from the base of my silver desk lamp amid my “piles in progress.” Opposite the desk, a Wedgewood blue futon beneath an ocean painting offers a sweet spot to read, hold Zoom meetings, or just relax and let my eyes roam out the window across the garden to the cornfields that run to the horizon.

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    Sharon K. Connell July 8, 2020 at 7:38 am #

    These replies go to show you that we are all just as different in our comfort zones for writing as we are in our styles and genres. 🙂

    My writing space is a large desk and hutch. To my right, I have a 2-shelf TV stand I use to place papers needed for reference, and over that, an adjustable table (the kind you put over a couch to use with your laptop) for a writing surface. Next to that, and slightly behind me, is my 2-drawer filing cabinet. Behind that, another 2-shelf TV stand to hold equipment I use in my work.

    To my left are two windows open to my front yard garden and an old telephone stand (hand crafted by my husband’s father of cherry wood, about 2.5′ in length with a shelf under the top). I have books and holders lined up for things like pencils, pens, flashdrives, etc. organized in what the stores sold as makeup holders (works great). Next to that is a hanging file-folder rack holding more books and papers I use in my writing.

    The hutch holds more books and other equipment. The left side cabinet, where we used to keep my computer tower, has drawers in it for more equipment and paper. I also have a shelf behind the LT with books, my printer to the left side of the desk, and other racks on both the right and left side of the desk to hold index cards used for my scenes as I write them.

    On top of the hutch are various items to make me smile: a picture of my husband and me, a feather pen from my trip to the Alamo during the ACFW Conference, and cards and trinkets from my readers. They all sit in front of my diplomas and certificates on the wall.

    Hanging from my hutch are pictures representing the characters in my current WIP so I remember exactly what they look like and can describe them the same way every time I need to.

    Behind my writing area is my artist studio where I paint to relax and while waiting for edits, etc.

    This is my writing comfort zone. Thanks for asking. 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Colleen Snyder July 8, 2020 at 7:45 am #

    My “office” is in my studio, a “reclaimed detached workshop.” It was converted into a room for my father who suffered a stroke, and so has counters on half the walls. My “desk” is the corner made up of the refrigerator and a counter end. I have my monitor, my tower, my keyboard… and about a thousand slips of paper with various notes to self: names of songs, dental appointments, notices from the DMV about renewing my license, sermon notes, my writer’s group critiques of 12 weeks of work (the group ended in March, along with life as we knew it…) on my current novel. Coffee cups with yesterday’s coffee and another with today’s coffee and another with pens and pencils and scissors… yeah, it’s a junk pile. But it’s MY junk pile and I love it!

  8. Avatar
    Melissa Henderson July 8, 2020 at 7:54 am #

    My writing space is mainly at the desk in my home office. Story ideas come at any time so I am prepared to take notes with my phone or pen and paper if I am away from the computer. 🙂 I have post it notes and scraps of paper scattered all over the desk and bookcases in my home office. The life of a writer…I love it!

  9. Avatar
    Nancy merical July 8, 2020 at 8:27 am #

    My office is a small 8×10 room that once was a child’s room. I write at my beautiful oak carved computer desk that my husband created for me from an old upright piano, gutted and rearranged with shelving and a pull-out shelf for my keyboard. An auction agent liked it so well, he offered my husband $1000 for each one he made. My husband declined. It was a huge job.

    Antique oak sewing machine drawers fastened beneath the desktop used to be the perfect size for holding floppy disks, but now hold an assortment of writing necessities. Across the top of the piano/desk, I have 47 antique books and small family photos. A shelf just above the computer screen holds reference books and a lower shelf holds my Bible, more reference books and reams of paper. Round holes cut in the back allow all the wires to be out of sight.

    My printer is close by on a short filing cabinet. An antique school desk holds other materials and another cabinet with several shelves holds my old computer and a stack of unfinished projects. Three tall narrow shelves hold all my published works and photographs (I am also a professional photographer), notebooks of published articles and poems and awards for my photography and writing. My husband built shelves into what was once a small clothes closet for my frames, baskets, painting supplies and shipping supplies (I also sell painted rocks and crocheted animals). A perfect room for a woman who tries to do it all. A jack of all trades and master of none but having fun.

    Author of several published articles and poems and eleven books, one traditionally published, the others self-published. I am now working diligently on a Civil War novel.

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    Kristen Joy Wilks July 8, 2020 at 8:27 am #

    I sit sideways in a puffy, chair-and-a-half at 4:00AM with a lamp by my head and a Star Trek quilt over my legs. Our two-bedroom apartment is tiny with three sons and a Newfoundland dog. But as the sun comes up, I hear the first birdsong and catch a glimpse of mountain forest out the window. The quiet of the morning is the perfect time to create.

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    Grace Fox July 8, 2020 at 9:22 am #

    I live on a sailboat moored on the Fraser River near Vancouver, BC. The vessel came with a little built-in desk, so that’s where I usually write. Beside the desk is a padded seat that’s about five feet long and three feet wide. It holds my papers and books when I’m deep into assignments or preparing for speaking engagements. In warm weather, I head outside to write in the cockpit. The sun shines, the eagles fly overhead, the Canadian geese swim by. I feel blessed.

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    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. July 8, 2020 at 9:23 am #

    Bob, my writing space is at a desk that faces a double window, so I can watch humanity pass by. I have a standing desk and, depending on the time of day, I can chose to stand or sit. My beloved book collection is nearby, and pictures of my family grace a short, glass-enclosed bookcase (which keeps me from being distracted by dust).

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    Carole Barber July 8, 2020 at 10:57 am #

    Just three months ago my writing sat in a small corner of our 5th wheel while we wanted for escrow to close on our new home out of state.

    Now, since the move, my writing desk is located in a corner of our new den overlooking a grassy back yard lawn and pine trees, with a peak of the Snake River canyon. Except for my desk and rolling office chair, the den remains empty awaiting furniture, much like the majority of our home. My husband works at his desk in a spare bedroom down the hall. We remain hopeful our upcoming shopping through the many vintage shops will provide both inspiration and good selection for our mid-century modern home. New adventure!

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    Velma Stewart July 8, 2020 at 11:22 am #

    I have not been published, and as yet I do not have a website, so you will find only my name at the bottom of my comment.
    My space includes a flat-screen with a pull-out keyboard, a printer a tower space with room on top for music CDs. There are taped notes of “how to” a list of book characters, named but not mentioned in ev,ery chapter, tables of contents from earlier revisions, which I don’t follow but have chapter names I can easily find in my documents to revise, delete, or remind me of promises made. I have a file of “how to” print-outs, numerous close-by reference books, and a much-used wastebasket and recycle box.
    Velma Stewart

  15. Avatar
    Roberta Sarver July 8, 2020 at 11:27 am #

    Wow, what an assortment of writing surroundings your readers have!

    My desk is a jumble of papers, notebooks and folders containing current projects–and that’s on the main level. On top is a long shelf with reference books, my Bible and an extra ream of paper. On my right is a cubicle with pull-out drawers containing file folders. Also it contains notebooks with clips of articles I wrote for newspapers. Another notebook is labeled “Writing Tips from Author Blogs” and contains lots of material downloaded and copied from Steve Laube’s blog.

    I have a calendar behind my laptop and a cute copy of a Normal Rockwell picture–the one where a little girl with a black eye and a grin is sitting on a bench outside the principal’s office. (Not sure why that appeals to me, because I was never that girl. But it makes me smile.)

    Behind me is a backyard with lots of shade trees, bushes and flowers. I love my mess and don’t have to share it with anyone, so I can find what I need without too much trouble.

  16. Avatar
    Linda M. Au July 8, 2020 at 12:11 pm #

    I write anywhere that’s working for me at the moment, but mostly in my large home office. (God bless huge Victorian homes for their crazy square footage!) I have all the comforts of home in here: computers, printers, typewriters, Alphasmarts, a couch, a TV, Roku, books, more books, memorabilia from fun events in my life, and framed posters all over the walls.

    Except for food and personal hygiene, I never have to leave this room.

  17. Avatar
    Sally Valentine July 8, 2020 at 1:08 pm #

    I like the green walls in your writing room picture. I also have green walls, but a little bit softer. I chose the color because it was called “witty green.” Am I just imagining that it inspires my writing?

  18. Avatar
    marilyn July 8, 2020 at 2:07 pm #

    I have a desk and writing area, but my favorite place to create is in my “chairplane” My bedroom chair, so comfy, takes me on wonderful flights of fancy as I create mysteries and solve them. Cheers

  19. Avatar
    Daphne Woodall July 8, 2020 at 4:42 pm #

    I love reading about author’s writing spaces. I’m a fan of Lori’s office and her husband’s Victorian projects. I have a designated office but tend to like variety and often float between three floors writing in multiple places of our house inside or out. Now that hub has retired I may have to leave home. 🙂

  20. Avatar
    Kathryn July 8, 2020 at 8:05 pm #

    Awesome, awesome, awesome! Your article caused me to smile and laugh. Thank you. 🙂
    I live in New Zealand in an isolated rural area on the West Coast, in the Far North of the North Island. I live on a bare block of land (no house), in a caravan with solar power. I am ‘roughing it’ as we kiwis like to say.

    There is a kiwi bird sanctuary at the end of my road, so if I want to hear the nocturnal calls of these rare, protected birds I can go for a short drive. (No, us kiwi people are not named after kiwi fruit, we’re named after short, plump, nocturnal, flightless birds. I’ve no idea why – if someone had asked me, I would have picked our cheeky kea – birds who fly around our South Island snowy mountains and who often try to convince tourists to ignore the ‘don’t feed the keas’ sign.)

    Anyway – my caravan is nothing fancy. Just one room for everything. My computer desk is stuffed between my bed, a guitar, book shelf and small portable fridge. I have to be organised or things get buried under other things and I lose them. This isn’t my dream writing space. It’s my ‘making the best from what you’ve got’. My dream writing space would be a lovely big ‘writer’s study’ in a warm, cosy home, with lots of book shelves and a view of the ocean. (I would also be able to see my horses out the window – I do have the horses view now).

    My one book, published ten years ago by Scholastic NZ is entitled, Dog Tucker and it’s out of print. (Hoping to get that rectified later this year). I am a Christian magazine editor and appreciate reading the blogs and everyone’s comments too.

    My thought for the week: No matter how we feel about ourselves on a scale from 0 to 10, God’s love for us is always a 10! Be blessed. 🙂

  21. Avatar
    Melanie Carter Winkler July 19, 2020 at 9:04 pm #

    My desk is actually filled with other things so isn’t the best place for writing plus the coldest and darkest room in the house. I have desk i can use in hubby’s study but right now i am in the living room which has a fire and in winter is the best place to be. i am in a soft arm chair with my computer/laptop on a table whose legs can fit under the chair and tray that can tilt. Though when i go out i try to remember to take pen and paper so i can write anywhere. So there is often notebooks which will have things i than have to transpose. Plus if i join hubby i will have to listen to the battles he has on his computer games.
    Hopefully one day will have a nice office, and turret would be amazing and we both like that idea.

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