Close your eyes and imagine your ideal workspace. What do you see in your mind’s eye?
My vision takes me across the planet to the utopian island of Bora Bora, but my bank account quickly beckons me back to reality. Don’t you hate when that happens?
Here’s the honest truth: Where you write impacts how you write.
While you may be able to eek out fantastical tales in a less than desirable setting, you don’t have to and you shouldn’t. In my experience, it’s a lot harder to write something epic and moving when your desk is cluttered, you’re overlooking the dumpster, and your chair is more uncomfortable than Thanksgiving dinner after an election year.
The writer’s workspace is a sacred environment where you should be alone with your wild and inexhaustible imagination. Every element of your workspace should be slave to your creativity. This is your profession– you shouldn’t be forced to work or live with inferior tools.
That said, I acknowledge that we’re all working with a finite budget. Therefore, the ideas below apply to those who are able to invest in a full makeover and also to those who can only afford to rearrange furniture in the room.
Let’s get started.
Choose the Right Workspace
All writers should have a dedicated work space even if:
A. You don’t work from that space all the time
B. Your workspace is literally a converted closet in your bedroom
As we’ll discuss in more detail below, your workspace will house all of your writing stuff, from pens and memory cards to inspiration notebooks and edited manuscripts.
If you have a dedicated space for your writer’s office, you can skip ahead to the next tip. But if you’re like many writers who have to create a workspace in the corner of your living or dining room, here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the right space. Choose a space that:
Provides at least some privacy – You’ll need to be alone with your thoughts and eventually teleport to the world of your characters. That’s hard to do when others are around and in your space.
Has little to no foot traffic – Don’t set up shop in the middle of a high-traffic area. The less people who walk in and out of your writing zone, the better.
Consider Where You Sit
You’re a writer which means that you’ll spend quite a bit of time on your tush. For this reason, you must give thought to where you’re sitting.
As a young writer, I foolishly thought that I could get by with a cheap chair. Wrong. After a while, the chair felt like a medieval torture device and it constantly distracted me from the process of writing.
If you’re only willing to shell out $20 bucks for the big box special utility chair, you’ll soon regret your decision. You need a high-quality, ergonomic chair (preferably one with good ratings on Amazon). Look for a product that provides lower back support and helps you maintain good posture. Also, if possible, sit in the chair before buying. If you can feel the frame– it’s not the right chair for you.
While this post is sensitive to those with smaller budgets, please don’t skimp on your writer’s chair. Save up if you have to and buy a chair with a price tag that makes you doubt your sanity temporarily. Trust me, it will all be worth it when you’re able to stand up for your chair and not clutch your back in pain.
Make Room for Standing (or Running), Too
Although I’m a big fan of sitting, perhaps you’re a fan of standing.
You’re not alone– standing desks are popular these days and for good reason. Standing can be great for your posture and offers a host of health benefits. Research shows that a standing desk may reduce heart disease, lower the risk of developing blood sugar, and improve your productivity.
But as a writer, you probably don’t want to stand up all the time, so it’s a good idea to get a convertible desk. There are two main ways you can go about this:
- Buy a (pricy) motorized desk that allows you to go from sitting to standing at the push of a button
- Buy a bar height desk that you can pair with a bar stool
The second option is cheaper however, if you opt for a non-motorized, bar-height desk, you’ll likely have to settle for a less than ideal writer’s chair.
A derivative of the standing desk is the treadmill desk, which is exactly what it sounds like: a desk attached to a treadmill. To me, this also sounds like a medieval torture device. I prefer to burn my calories the old fashioned way: Typing really fast when someone comes in the room to pretend like I’m actually working.
But if you prefer exercising while world building, there are plenty of options available for buy or DIY.
A cluttered desk will not inspire creativity.
Step one is to remove anything on your desk that’s not absolutely necessary for the writing process (or your inspiration). This includes junk mail or other random doodads that have no place in your writing workspace.
However, if there’s anything worse than a cluttered desk, it’s this: Successfully cleaning off your desk but then having no place to put it all.
Therefore, your perfect writing space must have storage space. You need someplace to hide, or rather store, your necessary but ugly stuff.
Add Multiple Screens
Although not a necessity, having multiple screens can truly boost your productivity. Imagine having one screen dedicated to storytelling and another screen for research or looking at your outline. Alternatively, your second screen can be used for all non-writing related tasks, like checking emails or getting caught up on social media.
Multiple screens seems like overkill to uninitiated but give it a chance. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll love having everything in front of you without clicking through screens.
Display Your Inspiration
Your desk shouldn’t be all business.
Surround yourself with art, photos of travels or loved ones, treasured books, and other trinkets that remind you of who you are and what you adore.
Stumped on what to include in your office? Start with nature. Green plants can serve as a muse and bring life to the room, both literally and metaphorically. Plus, they help circulate the air in the room. Yay for health benefits.
Remember that your workspace should be a place where you actually want to spend time in. Fill it with things you love and want to see.
Over to You
What are your favorite and least parts of your current writing space? Let us know in the comments below.