Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Well-Appointed Writing Space

To write well, you don't need much equipment. An inexpensive pen or pencil and enough paper to hold whatever you are writing, and you're good. However, the modern writer, if he hopes to publish, needs a little more. Today, I'm going to write a little about my writing space.

I love my writing space. I want to be in here. Loving that space is important, considering how much time I spend in here. I work from home most of the time in my day job, and this is my writing retreat for my creative time. I call my space my Schreibwinkl, or writing nook, and I've set it up to be a kind of refuge, which is not necessarily how we usually think of a work area. But if I'm going to spend a lot of time here, I want it to be comfortable, have what I need, and most importantly. be pleasant enough that I want to spend time in my room.

We all have a different writing space. Some write on the kitchen table, or a small desk in the corner. I'm lucky enough to have a room of my own. It's a small room, about 9x10 feet, which presents some challenges when making the room both functional and welcoming.


A shelf with books and toys can help personalize a room while being functional

No matter how big your space is, personalizing it makes it more comfortable. I need my own space, so making this little room my own is important to me. When I moved into this room, it had basic dark brown carpet and brown 1980s paneling on the walls and fluorescent tube ceiling lights. I lived with that for a while, but I got tired of somebody else's decor, especially since it was dark and dreary. I tore down the paneling (and discovered unfinished drywall with huge gaps behind it. I finished the walls, painted, and replaced the light fixture with bulbs on a dimmer switch. I gave one wall a half-timbered look, as close as I could come to the real thing because I've spent a lot of time in Germany and Austria, and enjoy medieval stuff, and I enjoy the kind of rough, rustic look I created. This summer, I finally pulled the carpet and replaced it with durable vinyl planking that looks like wood. Real wood would have been nicer, but I roll my chair all over the place, so I need something that won't easily scratch. Some people might hate this decorating style, but that's OK. It's me, and it's comfortable. You'll want to do your space your own way.

All of that's great, but this room is for working, and I need it to be a workspace, not just a place where I escape and hide out. For me, that means this is a TV-free room--but with plenty of music, thanks to a sizeable hard drive and decent-enough speakers--and it has plenty of work surfaces.

I have two desks. One is a large corner desk with my personal computer and lots of empty surface space where I can lay out notes or tablets or whatever I need at the moment.


Where the magic happens: the computer where I do much of my writing

The other is an old, small, inexpensive wooden kitchen table, just big enough for the laptop and two monitors I need for my day job.


Most of my day job duties are performed on an old table

And, being me, I also need plenty of technical gadgetry to improve efficiency and help me overcome my natural tendency toward clutter and disorganization. This is where Amazon has been useful.

For example, I have several tablets and other gadgets that I use as part of work and writing life. All of these gadgets need to be plugged in and charged, and that creates a spaghetti of tangled cords that takes up space and does little to add to the comfort of the room. So, I bought a 6-port USB charger that only requires one power outlet but can charge six devices at once.


Organizing cables makes the desk less cluttered

To further reduce the tangle of cords, I bought a pack of ten 7.5" microUSB cables. These cables replace many of my longer cables, and look about as attractive as you can make a cable look. For non-microUSB cables, like the one for my iPad, a simple twist tie helps keep the cable from taking over my desk.

Also, because I always manage to run out of USB ports, I found a monitor stand that has four easy-to-access ports right on the front, and allows me to tuck my keyboard away when I need empty desk space.


My monitor stand helps me free up desk space when I need it, and provides
handy USB ports and a headphone jack

Finally, because this is meant to be a creative space, I have little inspiration things wherever I look. Like my Goats In Trees calendar (hey, we're all inspired by different things) and objects that encourage me to be creative.


I've scattered objects around the room that remind me why I'm here

These are just a few of the things in my Schreibwinkl that help me make it my own and maximize my small space. Everything in the room is meant to facilitate work, make me feel creative, help solve my tendency toward clutter and disorganization, or help me enjoy being in the room. Writing takes a lot of time, and I need a space that is all mine, decorated my way (for better or worse), and makes me prefer to be in here doing what I need to do rather than Out There doing all the other things that compete for my time. Without this personal space that I enjoy, it would be difficult to keep my butt in my chair for the number of hours needed to live the writing life. 

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