the writer's corner

i was catching up with my lovely friend, sc, the other day after what felt like a lifetime of missing her wonderful warmth, kindness, and insightful thoughtfulness, when we got to the conversation of working from home. specifically, sc is trying to figure out how to set up a work space that is conducive to writing and that tells procrastination to go shove it.

having just finished a two-week writing "retreat" (i use retreat loosely because i didn't actually go anywhere, it was more of a retreat from the rest of the world and my normal distractions) to work on my novel (over 150 pages written in two weeks!), i promised her i'd show her some photos of how i made my space work for me.

 

the problem of working from home is one that plagues a lot of people, not just writers, so maybe what works for me might help someone else? i don't know. but here we go, anyway.

 

and that's it. that's the whole small space.

the photos are a bit dark because i've set my work space up against a couple of north-ish facing windows. the direction is actually very important to me because it means i get a lot of sunlight through most of the day. also, windows are great to look out of when you're thinking really hard... or when you're thinking really soft. they're just all around great.

(i'm also a little blurry in a lot of these photos because i'm lazy and whatever. taking a gazillion photos of everything just seemed like too much effort.)

i like having my desk in an alcove because it separates it off from the rest of the room. even though my office isn't technically cut off, there's a clear division of where it begins and the rest of the world ends. crossing over that invisible line means it's work time. 

 

my primary work space is my desk and chair, 'cause it helps to have a work surface and a place to sit at said work surface. you know, basics. my desk is technically one of those narrow tables you stick behind sofas. it takes up less space and, because surface area is limited, it keeps me from getting too cluttered. essentially, it keeps me honest and focused. 

i know a lot of people like comfy office chairs ― and whirling around in circles and having chair races down halls is fun and all that ― but i do a lot better with a straight backed chair and an ottoman to put my feet up on/have the phebe cat sleep on my feet. 

 

this cat has no shame. when she decides i'm paying too much attention to the computer and not enough to her, she sits on the ottoman and hits me in the leg until i pet her. and if i try to go back to my work after a few pets, she'll often start hitting me again. 

 

stickies (and index cards, when the stickies are too small) are a big part of my process. kb got me started on them, and i love the system. it's a great visual way to collect ideas and have them right there on hand so you're not constantly searching through piles of notes or whatever for your thoughts.

i'm a little ocd, so i have a whole color-coded/ linear system for my notes. and i probably spend too much time making sure my rows and columns line up properly. 

also, yes. i have two coasters there. one is designated solely for coffee cups. 

 

there's a second space right next to my desk for thoughts that don't fit in to my current projects. even scattered ideas are worth saving. for me, it's just all about having a system where i can tell the difference. 

 

the other side of my work space is more storage than anything else, although sometimes it's also phebe cat's prime bird watching site. once i cleared off the top entirely and the kira cat spent most of the day there, snoozing and sniffing the outside air and watching the squirrels and birds hang out on the roof. it was ridiculously cute. i felt bad when i had to take her downstairs for dinner. 

 

i have two types of storage: open and closed. 

my open shelving is the stuff i need to grab quickly: computer screen cleaner, paper, external hard drives, camera, tacky glue (because i'm a compulsive crafter, not because i glue my stickies to the wall). 

 

my closed shelving, which is a little difficult to see (sorry, lighting issues again), is for the not-everyday stuff: the serious documents, the almost obsolete, etc.

oh, and yes. that is the infamous books on my parents' shelves scanner. no matter how grumpy i get at it, i love it because it's portable (it fits in my computer bag) and because it only has one cord (it doesn't have to plug into a wall outlet). 

 

i guess the most important part of my space, though, is that i've tried to surround myself with things that make me happy. i hang up letters from friends and little things that are happy memories; i have plants that keep me company (the bamboo is named ferdinand and the aloe is oscar); i have my crafty projects hanging on the walls and windows; and i have a photo one of my favorite people, c(s)w, took. my little lights on the window and my hanging desk lamp give me a sense of whimsy at night.

all of these little details just make me comfortable. it's a space i want to be in, and because of that, it's a space i spend hours longer in than i probably need to.

 

so that's it. it's probably more detail than most of you need, but oh well. hopefully i've answered sc's request to the extent that she wanted, and that's all that matters.

i guess i'll just end it with a picture of this cute pest and we can call it a day.

 

now back to work, people.