If you could create your ideal writing space, what would it look like?
Like boiling cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, fennel into a pot to combine flavors for a decadent chai, I want my office to simmer with ideas, story lines, colors, objects, explorations, and insights. Here’s how I arrange my writing place:
My ideal writing zone is a nook. Too small and I feel cramped. However, it must be small enough to feel cozy. And, more importantly, to contain the creative energy.
Too big a space and the energy get dispersed. I can’t spend all my time running around the room, hopping from corner to corner, lassoing the creative flow back home; that’s too much work. And the overdose of air, wind, and swirl is too distracting.
No, I like my writing spaces to feel like a hug, a container to keep my muse and all its infinite monkey wisdom close by, so I can reach over, without moving my chair, and pluck the idea out.
The Desk Position
My desk must have space in front of it. No staring at a wall.
While I’m happy in a snug corner, I still want the feeling of spaciousness so I must be able to look out…
To a far off mountain vista, perhaps.
Or an ocean on the horizon.
Or if a dramatic skyline isn’t accessible, then I’ll take a window peeping out on to the street, a garden, or the back alley.
The ‘look out’ is so very important as a writer needs to be a spy. When I spy with my little eyes I get inspired, find a word I may be grappling with, or see a prop I can use to tell a story:
A garbage can,
a mother pushing a stroller,
a plastic bag blowing in the wind,
a coconut dropped to the ground,
the neighbor coming home.
A Plush Armchair
From my desk, I can swivel my chair around, prop my feet up, or turn to have a chat with the guest in my armchair. We can sip tea, brainstorm on the chalkboard, or simply dialogue. I also use the armchair to change positions, curl up and scribble edits on paper manuscripts.
The Board!! (One of the most important tools)
As seen in the picture, I now use an old-school chalkboard that I found at a thrift store, to map out all my story and project ideas.
On sticky notes I write out scene headings and themes, chapters, and to designate plot points, and then paste them all over the board in the sequence I want, with the ever-present option of rearranging. Sometimes I will even collage images for inspiration or to get me in the mood of a story.
I’ve used blank walls before, a thin sheet of insulation, and I routinely write out headings and brainstorm ideas on a dry erase board.
No matter the tool, the important bit is being able to look at the entire story at a glance. To peek at the visual flow of the project. Whenever I feel like I’m stuck in the laptop, in a paragraph, with no idea how far I’ve come or how much farther I have to go, I look to the board.
Lush green appeals to my senses and my desire to be surrounded by nature. Plants also live in dirt. As an inventor-type and predominate Vata dosha, I spend a lot of time with my head in the clouds. Grounding is particularly useful in helping me to fulfill on the art, as well as to stay happy and balanced. Therefore, dirt is a must. If not on my desk, then just steps away in the yard, where I can take my shoes off and feel the earth on my bare feet. Sometimes, I even lie on the ground, like kids in a field, looking up to those witty clouds.
On My Desk
Yellow Sticky Notes (regularly sized).
Smaller Sticky Notes.
Index Cards (blank).
Nail Biter, Nail file, & Nail polish.
Laptop + Wireless Mouse
A Lamp (pleasing to the eye, with a golden light for energetic warmth).
A LED Bright Light (for when the sun goes down and I need to see).
Within Arms Reach
Essential oils for various needs: uplift when sleepy, calming for anxiety, heating for windy days, cooling for the island heat.
Plush comfy, armchair I can sink into and throw my legs over the side.
Places for the dog and cats to curl up.
The Chicago Manual of Style
How to Write a Book That Sells You by Robin Colucci (Great information on editing and creating a structure for actually fulfilling on your book.)
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. (Helps me breakthrough resistance!)
The Elements of Fucking Style- A Helpful Parody by Chris Baker and Jacob Hansen (I know you want to buy this book just for the title, don’t you? I did.)
Journals: I use several at time: A catchall + project-focused journals. I like to use sketchpads with wonderful thick paper.
Because I Live in the Tropics
Natural yummy citronella smelling oil that leaves me refreshed, lures my senses, AND keeps the buggers off me.
Plus, I have a Mosquito Zapper, and I’m not afraid to use it.
The pop a mosquito makes when it’s body explodes on the electric field is particularly pleasing.
Stones & shells I picked up on my beach romps.
Within Walking Distance
A cup of hot tea.
The great outdoors.
A snuggly kitten or dog.
A place to pace and meditate and move, when sitting becomes too much or ideas stop.
A soft daybed with pillows, a linen blanket, and a breeze. (Naps are the charging station of an author.)
Dark Chocolate. (Cacao stimulates the brain. An afternoon cup of cocoa tea gives a great re-boost.)
Cleaning & Care
To generate my best work, I must clean the space and file frequently to keep the zone clear of clutter so the ideas are free to move about, fester, and multiply.
Your Writing Space
For me, every item in the ideal writing space must be an enhancement of sorts. It’s taken me years to mold my space, and then sometimes still I require something different and must mold again.
If you are creating your own space, take your time, experiment, and feel into what works for your natural flow.
Above all, enjoy.
Enjoyment breeds creativity.