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  • Writer's pictureZoe

How to Create the Ultimate Writing Space

Everyone has different things that inspire them. You might write best sitting in a sheepskin-covered yurt drinking horse milk. Some people just need an obscene amount of caffeine.

While you can technically write anywhere (J.K. Rowling came up with Harry Potter on a train!), I've found that there are certain aspects of a good writing spot. It's helpful to have a specified place to go, somewhere that sparks your creativity and puts your pen to paper (see what I did there?).

Today I thought I would walk you through what my writing environment looks like and a few things that help me get typing. Everyone functions differently, and while you might swear by color-coded erasers, another might get their best ideas with their feet in their sock drawer. This is just what I like, but I hope you'll gain a few new tips by reading this. Go ahead and comment down below what type of environment inspires you!

A peek at what my writing space looks like...

#1: My Typewriter

I love typewriters! Don't you just adore the look of them? They're so vintage and adorable.

I always thought I would get a manual one (the really old kind with little 'circles on sticks' keys); but when I bought one of those, it was difficult for me to press down the keys and therefore made my typing much slower. I now own an electric one that was generously given to me. It still feels cool and old to me, but it keeps me speedy! I just received white-out tape, so that I can "erase" mistakes. I still haven't installed it. My readers will probably love it, but I feel so nostalgic and cheery whenever I see black x's scattering my paper!

I always feel such a creativity spike when I use my typewriter. I mostly prefer typing (hand cramps are real, y'all) BUT I don't become distracted as easily. Before I had my cute mini laptop, I tried to write by hauling around a big clunker of a laptop. It seemed perfect because I didn't have any other typing resource at the time and (because it took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to load) I wasn't distracted by emails or anything. Old Clunker is currently sitting in the storage closet right now. I swapped it out for my laptop because it took about fifteen minutes to open a Word document and about another thirty to save any changes.

The clickety-clack of typewriter keys is so rewarding; it makes you feel like you're typing much more than you are. It always sends a little jolt of happiness through me to hear the noise. I'm not exactly sure why I write so much more when I use a typewriter, but I have my theories:

  • using something that brings me joy makes me want to write more

  • I feel like Juliet from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

  • it gives me a concrete piece of paper so I don't have to worry about my story disappearing into the place where technology files go to die

  • I'm away from distractions

  • my little fingers don't have to cramp from clutching a pencil

  • I feel as if I'm in a little bubble, typing like a maniac, away from emails and Youtube

#2: Working Around Others

Have you ever seen one of those scenes in a movie, typing away in a bustling diner for hours on end, finally finishing their book after eight days of non-stop writing? Ha.

I personally find it very difficult to concentrate in busy places. Sometimes, churning out a few pages at a coffee shop or editing in the living room with my family is great. It's just nice to have a change of pace.

Whenever I'm writing with a buddy, I often come out of one of those sessions re-energized. I have a great writing friend and I can just bounce ideas off of and she'll tell me if they stick. Sometimes I walk out with an entirely new plot I never would have been able to come up with otherwise! These sessions are so important to me. I have a bad habit of getting crazily excited about a project and then pushing it off to the side a few weeks later without encouragement. I have a few promising little projects right now that I'm nursing that would probably already be in the wastebasket without my writing friend.

I don't want to undermine these discussions, because I really do think that they are vital to an author. However, I have noticed that although I'm more inspired after, I haven't written an awful lot. I personally write more in solitude.

Like I mentioned with my typewriter, I like being in a little bubble while I write. Somewhere where I can talk aloud and pace the room trying to figure out a girl's name that starts with X is where I flourish. It also offers something very concrete for my brain; like, you are going to write and persevere through these final pages, but when you come out, you're going to interact with your family and be social. That kind of black-and-white reasoning helps me.

If you do feed off other people's energy and feel as if you work better in an environment with others, I would recommend sitting in a coffee shop, library, or something like that. A place with other people around can still give you that energy, but be quiet enough for you to focus.

Working around others is totally fine. I do it, and I'm very introverted! I feel vitalized after being with myself and I still can write around people. I just think that everyone around you needs to be aware that this is a time where you are writing. That doesn't mean marching into the kitchen, plunking down your computer, and announcing that you're writing so be silent! Instead, hop on the couch and start typing when the rest of your family is working on separate projects. Head to Starbucks with a friend who needs to study for a biology exam. You can still be around society if that invigorates you. Just be smart about it.

#3: Keep it Tidy

Keeping an area clean, especially an area overflowing with papers and pencils and books, is difficult. But it's also super important.

When I think of a writing space, I don't automatically think of a tidy, white little room. A desk overflowing with manuscripts, half-drunk coffee cups, and dirty tissues is whimsical, right? I don't think so. I personally find it so much easier to focus in a clean space. You can simultaneously keep your area clean, livable, and your materials accessible.

I didn't always think that it was really important, but my mind just feels so much clearer when I sit down at a clean desk. I'm not someone who loves to clean (or does it very often, tbh), but I concentrate much better when a moldy peanut butter sandwich isn't next to me.

What helped me a lot was deep cleaning my desk drawers and creating a paper system that worked for me. I've always heard "never throw any manuscripts away" and I still think you should save your papers, but the way you organize them is important.

I now keep really old writings in a tub in the storage closet and all my current writings in either my computer or a Trapper Keeper in my desk. This keeps papers from cluttering my workspace but still makes them accessible.

Remember, "clean room, clean mind" is a real thing, so consider dusting off your author zone before typing away.

#4: Keep Materials Nearby

I tend to work at my typewriter, which is a few feet away from my desk. I like this set-up because it allows me to be close to my drafts, in case I need to pull out another project. All of my writing utensils, typewriter ink, and books are also nearby if I need any of those. I like that I don't have to pop downstairs to get something because it allows me to stay in my writing space.

One other thing I keep by me is my book of baby names. I keep a running list of names in the back I think would be good for a story. Whenever I need a character name, I can just flip it open and find one right off the bat. (One other kind of weird thing I do is look at the Oregon obituaries. I can find some really good names off there if I'm in a pinch.)

Well, there you have it! Those are just a few tips I have for creating an inspiring, productive spot for writing. I hope you found something applicable to yourself. Comment down below what your writing space looks like!


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Zoe Ward
Zoe Ward
Apr 27, 2019

@Grace That sounds exactly like my desk before I tidied it! I would recommend doing a deep-clean, instead of chipping away at it, because then you know you shouldn't have to do a big clean again. Try to limit the amount of materials you have on hand. It was really hard for me to cut down my fifty-thousand free pencils and four stacks of typewriter paper, but I've found that I still have everything I need on a daily basis AND have so much more space in my drawers. Store old or almost completely used notebooks that you're not currently writing in in a storage system outside of your desk. Make sure you can get to them if you need…


Apr 24, 2019

My desk is a mess. It is rather big and has loads of draws. It is seriously old too. I try and stay organised but i have too many things and no space. What can i do?

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