If I had it my way, I’d be typing from a treehouse in Costa Rica while listening to birds chirping, trees rustling in the wind, and rain falling gently outside through breezy windows. Alas…my humble abode in Houston will have to do.
For years, I’ve struggled with finding the right words in my own home. In the past, I spent a ridiculous amount of time in coffee shops, libraries, parks, and places of “inspiration” telling myself that I would always need to relocate because my house was an area of distraction. I’d convinced myself I would never be productive at home because my thoughts would often turn from writing to, “I need to sweep the floors….do the dishes…clean the litterbox…watch the latest episode of whatever HBO or Netflix series I was currently addicted to…” and so it goes. Recently, however, I’ve realized that I can truly shut out all of my anxieties if I surround myself with inspiration and spaces throughout my home that allow my process to flourish.
I was wrong. (Yes, I know women don’t say that often…)
I’ve finally become incredibly productive in my own home, and I want to share the changes I’ve made to my space to ensure that creative writing can occur. I’m not offering a list on this particular post of changes you can make to your own space; instead, I’m describing mine, so you can all have a little insight into my writing habits to help you reflect on your own.
In my current home, I have an office that is both organized and just “messy” enough for me. I found an old desk on the side of the road and distressed it in yellow with some funky knobs. On my desk, you’ll find a few of my favorite characters–Rocket Raccoon and BB-8–as well as speakers that are always singing. I keep all of my necessary supplies at an arm’s length. Pens, pencils, scissors, highlighters, binder clips, glue sticks, white out, erasers, sticky notes, notepads, staplers, and journals are the usual suspects. I’ve found that having some lotion and a finger nail file nearby keeps me from getting up to search for one if a nail splits or my skin feels dry.
I’m someone that likes to write by candlelight, so there are lighters purposefully placed in drawers and nooks and crannies throughout my office. In case I want to move into the chair adjacent to the computer and work from my laptop, I keep a external hard drive in my desk drawer at all times. Sometimes it’s faster to save a document on my hard drive than to email to myself and open it on my laptop.
To the left of my desk is a cart with my printer, lots of colored paper, and my candle stash. Sometimes I like to print drafts on colored paper to help me differentiate between the edits. I always try to have an extra reserve of ink on hand in case I run out. The flowered case in front of my printer is where I store my previous drafts. It is an accordion style filing system. Within it, I keep printed copies of finalized stories, poems, and novel pages, as well as stamps and envelopes in case I see a call for submissions that requires a hard copy to be submitted. Expect a future post about how I track my submissions and utilize this filing system.
To the right of my desk, I have a small bookshelf that contains only the necessities. I know that if I put my TBR books on this shelf, I will never get any writing done because of the temptation to start reading instead. I have journals and books that serve as resources on the shelves, as well as a few pieces of art and props that I like to use when I feel inspired to take an Instagram photo or one for the blog. There is also a lamp on the top, which helps when the candlelight is not enough to keep me awake.
I am fortunate to have a closet in my office, which is incredibly helpful when I need to remove clutter. Most of the time, it’s organized, but if I need to pick up a stack and get it out of sight to focus, there’s always the closet to stick it in.You will notice a yoga mat hanging in a bag on the closet, as well as a basket in the corner with yoga materials. Often doing yoga or meditating before writing helps me focus. It can be a wonderful re-energizing practice as well when you feel like you are losing steam. I plan to write an entry about how yoga and mediation can fuel your writing in the future, but for now, know that having a mat, some candles, and/or mala beads nearby can be incredibly helpful!
Aside from the closet, I also have a storage stool that sometimes serves the purpose of “hiding junk” as well. I mostly use it to hold coloring books and coloring tools in case I need a mental break from writing. Coloring often helps me process where I want to go in a story. It’s also statistically proven to relieve stress – double Win!
Another source of inspiration is the art on my walls. I’ve filled the wall above my desk with Led Zeppelin portraits and the adjacent walls contain two autographed Ray Lamontagne posters. Both have inspired me as a poet, and I often write to their music and consider their lyrics when writing. I have a few of my favorite fictional characters on the wall too- a Wolverine cut out and a mint lithograph of Stitch reading The Ugly Duckling that my parents bought me at Disney World. When I was in graduate school, I made a black and white collage of the Beat poets, which also hangs in my office. All of the art on my walls motivates me to be a storyteller. I love each of these authors and characters for very specific reasons, and sometimes just looking up reminds me why I am a writer.
If I can’t find inspiration within my office, I can turn around and peer through the french doors into what I call my miniature library – someday it will look like Belle’s, complete with those awesome ladders you can roll around the shelves on. My study is primarily shelves of books. Joining the books, there are several Funko pops, collectible figurines, and LEGO sets of characters I love. I also have Led Zeppelin record box sets on top of my shelves for a little more classic rock! If I want to move into the space to write, there is a small couch, coffee table, and rocking chair with lamps and candles nearby. The table next to my couch contains pens and lighters as well.
I’ve organized the drawer by my bedside to contain everything I might need in the middle of the night to write. A small flashlight, headphones, a book lamp, pens, highlighters, journals, post-its and the like line the interior of my nightstand. I also have a lamp on my bedside table, since whispering “Lumos” with a wand in my hand has failed to produce any light. I’m still waiting on an owl with my Hogwarts acceptance letter…
My beverage of choice when I am writing is tea. My kitchen is open to my living room, so it can be distracting to go in to the kitchen to make tea; I notice tasks like the dishes in the sink and begin cleaning instead of focusing on my writing. Instead, I’ve found the most amazing solution – an electric tea kettle! If I know I am going to be in another room writing, I can bring it, my tea box, and an extra container of water with me to make batches of tea. If you are a tea lover, I can’t recommend this little lifesaver enough!
Finally, no home or office is complete without a cozy chair and a cat! Find yourself a feline friend to help keep you company during your writing binges! Scout’s presence both relaxes me and encourages me to keep writing. She is named after one of my favorite protagonists, Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, so her namesake alone serves as a reminder to keep putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keys).
In the future, I plan to post a list about the necessities for a productive writing space, but until then…I thought I’d share my personal space with you, dear readers, in hopes that it will keep you motivated and encourage you to Write. Every. Damn. Day.