Monday, October 15, 2012

Writing Spaces

by Stephanie Morrill

There are some things about my writing space that are nice-to-haves. Like my worn copy of Writing the Breakout Novel or a thousand pictures of my kids.

But there are some things that I just have to have in my writing space or it wouldn't feel right:

1. My desk

My desk ... and my dog, KC. I was standing in his bed to take the picture :)

I have a serious emotional attachment to my desk. The moment I saw it at Pottery Barn 10 years ago and realized it was somewhat in my price range, I had a serious furniture crush. It's the first piece of quality furniture I ever bought for myself, and I really can't imagine me ever parting with it. We've just been through too much together.

2. A honkin' bulletin board


Before the bulletin board, I would take the framed posters off my wall and tape my sticky notes to them, until one day when my mom came down to my office for something, saw what I was doing, and informed me that I would be getting a huge corkboard for Christmas. It's actually a roll of cork that my husband and father screwed into the wall. Amazing for storyboarding, keeping track of notes, or organizing pictures and stuff for my current work in progress.

3. A timer


She's nothing fancy, but this timer has seen me through some tough times. Typically I keep it set for 25 minutes, and when I'm having trouble staying on task with writing, I tell myself I can't get up from my chair or do anything else until I've written for 25 minutes. I'm amazed at how well this pushes me through those times when I'm feeling too lazy to write.

4. Lots and lots of shelves


What's not to love about having a ridiculous amount of shelves in your office?

5. My aunt's writing books


My aunt passed away 2 years ago. She had always been very encouraging of my writing and even made a special trip up here for my first book signing despite being crazy sick at the time. (That's what the framed picture is of.) She had told me once when I was in middle school that she also liked to write, though she wrote creative nonfiction type stuff and never talked much about it.

After her funeral, we were back at her house, and I needed a quiet room for feeding Connor (he was 2 months old at the time) before we drove back to Kansas City. My uncle offered their bedroom, so I went in there. It was very emotional to be in a room so full of her, having just watched her casket be lowered into the ground. Close by was a cabinet with glass doors on it full of pretty decor type things, and then those tattered writing books pictured above. Even though she never published anything, even though she never even tried from what I know, she had clearly worked hard to improve her craft. I hadn't realized until I saw those how precious writing had been to her.

Weeks later, when my uncle asked if there was anything I wanted of hers, I knew exactly what would mean the most to me.

6. My cup

My parents travel quite a bit. When they were in Switzerland a few year ago, they saw this cup and saucer in a store and thought of me. I adore it. And if they're not going to take me with them to all these cool places, at least they bring back amazing stuff, right?

7. Giraffes
Bronte, Hemingway, and Zora
I almost didn't include my giraffes because I'm so used to them. To me it feels as obvious as saying, "My office must have a computer." My brother-in-law gave me my first giraffe for Christmas the first year that I was officially his sister. Around its neck he'd hung a tag that read, "Hemingway." Otherwise I don't know if I would have thought to put him on my desk.

I have quite a few now, and my office wouldn't feel the same without.

What's in your writing space that makes it uniquely yours?

52 comments:

  1. Cool! You've got some super awesome stuff in your writing space! Every writer has a different writing space and it always reflects their true personality. It was so cool to get to peek into your space and I just adore the cup and saucer! And who can get past your quirky love for giraffes? Lol - I LOVE it!

    Thanks for the post!

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  2. That's a great writing space! Mine's rather boring. Computer, naturally. I tend to have a variety of pencils littered around my computer, my iPod touch (which I have a tendency to write notes on when I'm away), my kindle and my camera (both of which have no pertinence in my writing, but they're always there), a thousand random papers on the printer, and a bookshelf next to me. Technically, I have a bulletin board too, but it's on the other side of the room, and since I had my furniture rearranged, it makes it easy to forget about. I post random writing notes on it occasionally, though. Usually during school when something or another stands out to me. Usually an interesting quote or another.

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    1. Until this one, mine were always rather boring too. But it sounds like you have everything you need!

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  3. Your Aunt sounds like such a sweet and incredible lady. The sort any person would be blessed to meet.
    The only must-have that I include in my writing space (aside from the obvious things like Desk, Computer, Story paper and pens/pencils) is my Green banker's lamp. When I first found it in a house we had newly moved into, it was in bad condition. But it was love at first sight. I lovingly dubbed it "Atticus" since it reminded me of a lamp Atticus Finch would use. I repaired it, and it hasn't left my desk since. The green doesn't match anything in my room, doesn't match the decor of my room, or even my white and robin's egg blue desk. But Atticus stays.

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    1. That's awesome, Ashley. I name a lot of things, but I've never named a lamp :)Atticus sounds perfect.

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  4. right now I don't have a writing space because I use my moms computer but yours looks nice

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    1. I used to write on the family computer as well. One of the joys of being a teen writer :)

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  5. I don't have a writing space :( But where I usually do my writing is on an old laptop at the table. And I tow my writing notebook (which is filled with totally awesome bits and pieces of writing, along with scribbles, doodles and such), my WIP folder (contains important notes, phrases, character profiles, etc.), and anything else I feel like :D

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  6. Oh my gosh, yours is so cute. I dont have a writing space. Wish I did. In all honesty, my writing space is 60% of the time the back seat of a pickup. What makes that really special is all the wobbly handwriting ;) And the other 40% of the time is devided up between the couch and my bed, which is special because I miss the tv show I was watching when i suddenly got inspired, or stay up half the night brainstorming :)

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    1. Stephen King used to write his books sitting on top of the washing machine with the typewriter balanced on his lap (pretty sure I'm remembering that right). The backseat of a pickup has a nice "one of these days I'm gonna be huge" kind of ring to it :)

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    2. Haha, seriously?? That's awesome!
      Haha, it kind of does :)

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  7. This is beautiful! I won't lie, I'm a little jealous. I write on my couch, because my apartment is too tiny for a pretty desk. It's okay, I'll just stare at yours...

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  8. Those giraffes... :D :D :D

    I don't have a writing space... my laptop, my hands, and my brain are the only things I use.

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  9. Experiencing serious cup-envy, here. That is one awesome set. Go, Mom and Dad!

    My desk has a really cool Jane Austen action figure. ;-) And typically drawings of my current characters tacked to the wall. Or at least, before I decided to hang my Revolutionary 13-star American flag up there...

    And I love my shelf of research books. Featuring such assorted titles as "Annapolis: Its Colonial and Naval History" and "American Mafia" and my most favorite, from the Kyoto Institute, "Fashion." Ahhh, bliss. Now if only I had one of those cups... ;-)

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    1. Lol. You know you're a historical writer when... :)

      And I can't do much about the cup, but the Jane Austen action figure is pretty sweet.

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    2. Well next time they're in Switzerland they should totally keep your best friend in mind when spotting awesome writer things like that . . . ;-) (Kidding, kidding!) And you do deserve major Stroke of Genius Points for that action figure. =)

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    3. And it's something else you and Julie Klassen have in common, which is always a plus :)

      Maybe our next writing retreat should be in Switzerland...

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    4. ...please please please can I come?;)

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    5. LOL. Methinks Switzerland may have to wait until one or both of us hit that best-seller list and hold steady on it for a while. ;-) Or win the lottery we don't play.

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  10. I dream of the day when I have my own office! If writing is my career path (I sure want it to be)
    It looks like you've offended KC. How could you do that? Lol! My dog does the same thing of stranding there with her head turned away from me when she's mad at something I did.
    I LOVE your cup.
    I've been using giraffe. I put it in big letters, whenever I read it its like I'm yelling GIRAFFE and it makes me laugh :)

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    1. Lol, I do the same thing Tonya! I'm afraid if I don't put in all caps, I'll miss it when I'm editing.

      And poor KC had been sleeping. That's okay. He has no problems waking ME up...

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    2. Good old GIRAFFE. I remember, in my first draft, I totally forgot about it, and mum's just like, "...what's 'giraffe'?"

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  11. I love your space!
    Mine usually includes: Laptop, bulletin board, binder,pens and pencils, music, coffee, and a internet free room : )I get VERY distracted.

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    1. Major YES to coffee. And good for you, limiting your distractions!

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  12. Hm. My writing space includes... lots of writing utensils, a sewing machine :P, lots of other stuff... and posters from the musicals I've performed in. And my stuffed camel! Love that guy!

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  14. My writing space includes my laptop, a pink chair in my room, coffee, and my iPod. Occasionally a notebook/binder. I keep most of my notes and pictures on my laptop.

    I love seeing pictures of other author's writing spaces. And I absolutely love that cup and saucer!

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  15. Okay, this is just sad. HOW CAN YOU BE SO CLEAN???

    My desk/book piles are a mess. Huge piles everywhere.

    I've been wanting to get me a timer... *writes on To Do list again*

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    1. To which Stephanie says, HOW CAN YOU GET ANYTHING DONE WHEN YOUR DESK IS MESSY??? :)

      My space can get a bit messy at times, but it makes me crazy if that goes on for too long!

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    2. To which Maddie jumps in and says HOW CAN YOU EVEN WRITE AT A DESK?? Drives me nuts. Makes me feel like school.

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  16. I write at the corner desk in my room. There's a window to the side, so I can have a nice view but not be constantly distracted by it. I have a thing for staring at the sky when I'm trying to come up with a solution for something, so I just swivel my chair around, prop my feet on my bed, and gaze out the window until I've righted my character's world again (or completely destroyed it, depending on the situation). I have a bulletin board, a small whiteboard, and a big piece of cardboard that serves as a portable bulletin board. A lot of times, I don't want anyone who might come into my room to know what's going on in my plot, so I keep notes tacked to the cardboard and can easily slide it out of sight behind my desk. I also have my writing books nearby, as well as some of my favorite novels for the purposes of inspiration and motivation. There's usually a cup of coffee and popcorn or something at my desk, too. The only thing that could improve the space would be an in-room coffee maker and mini-fridge. But I guess the trips to the kitchen are good for clearing my thoughts ;)

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    1. Oh, and a calendar! It actually doubles as my personal calendar/characters' calendar. I have a feeling I'll be kind of bummed when I flip the page next month and realize I don't actually have a date every Friday night ;)

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    2. Haha, Anna, that's hilarious about your life and your characters dates every week, love it!:P We should all do that, then people will think I actually do things with my life besides eat food and read books. ;)

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    3. Haha! Thanks! The good thing is, I'm not having surgery next month like my MC. So that's one thing on the calendar I'm glad isn't mine ;)

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    4. Oh, I love that you can stowaway your notes so easily! My office is pretty tucked away, so it doesn't happen often, but on the occasion that someone else uses my computer I feel extremely aware of how weird my notes can seem out of context.

      And I love that you share a calendar - how funny!

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  17. I love reading all of these! There are absolutely countless things I love having in my office (of sorts) but there are only three main things I need to help me WRITE. And though I would love to tell every detail about my office, I am not sure I have the time and am almost positive you don't. So I will just tell you those three things I need to help me write. And those are:
    1) My WIP notepad in which I store my ideas, inspiration, notes, goals, pictures I stole from random sites that are my "story scenes/characters come to life," etc.
    2) My favorite books in which I hope my WIP can measure up to one day.
    3) A tea or lemonade.

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  18. I love the cup and the giraffes! :)

    I don't really have a 'writing space' - usually I write sitting on the sofa with my laptop.
    That (and a mug of hot chocolate if I'm writing in the evenings) is all I need.

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    1. Oh, hot chocolate! White hot chocolate. With lots of foam stuff on top. Mmmmm...

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  19. There's this thing on Pinterest and it says, "when I got to people's houses, I always end up looking through their books." Well, I guess the internet's no different:P -- is that a Christy Miller book in the top left corner? I LOOOOVE Christy Miller!

    That's so awesome. Because those books probably wouldn't have meant anything to anyone else in your family but they did for you. I like how that works.

    Oh, I have a writing desk. But I've never, ever written there. And I have a corkboard -- with ideas and pictures about my book. The funny thing is, I put everything on it after I'd written the book. For me, it was more of a creative decoration fun thing. :P Because when I write, I like to go outside. Sit down. Listen to music. And just write. No distractions. And of course, disconnect from the internet!

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    1. Emii, yes it is Christy Miller! It's the first three books :)

      And I'm the same way with my bulletin boards. There's hardly anything on them when I start a book, and they grow throughout the first draft.

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  20. Aw, Steph. I loved this post. How personal it was and your sharing about your aunt. :) And the first Giraffe's name is Hemingway! Love that!

    These comments are great. I loved seeing what everyone has that makes their writing spaces their own. I have two things on my desk that make it *my* writing space: a ship in a bottle ('cause I'm into pirates) and some coins from Costa Rica piled on top of each other to look a little like loot, in the middle of which is a wooden coin with "Don't take no wooden nickels" written on it. That was my Grandpa's favorite phrase.

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  21. That is so cool :D I'm jealous of your office space. It looks so cute and well organized :D

    and in my office space I hhaveee... a white board/cork-board right above my computer. I pin pictures of my characters and maps of a setting to it and write important dates of the story on my white board or little things to add later to a story. I also have a HUGE pile of sticky notes stuck to my computer screen, printer, walls...ect. They're full of quotes, notes about characters, phrases from different countries and just about anything you could think of. It helps me stay organized to see all of my notes at once.

    and book shelves. Tons and tons of books and shelves. hehe

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    1. I am so jealous! I live in an apartment where I am not allowed to put anything but small nails, so I use the cardboard backs of large calendars from my bank. I tape things to it, instead of pushpins. One day!!
      My area is so small, but I am very thankful to have what I have ... a place to write, a place to keep my things to myself, and my privacy.
      I only rely on The Christian Writer's Market Guide, and the Internet for all of my resources. I just don't have the space to put shelves out for books. Again, one day!!
      Still, The Father has been very good to me and I cannot complain.
      This has been a great post, and I have really enjoyed it.

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  22. I've actually never thought of having a writing space before! I usually just write wherever I find myself. But after seeing this post I'm getting inspired to try to create a writing space of my own! I would have to have my binder of ongoing projects (since I refuse to brainstorm or do first drafts on the computer), a radio so that I can relax or find inspiration if need be, my books particulairly of writers who inspire me, and a never emptying cup of coffee!!!

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    1. The "never emptying cup of coffee" would be the dream office addition!

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  23. I work on a antique letter writing desk. Its wierdly shapped and the slanted lid coems down and reveals a BIG long space, so i can shove all the paper junk to the back and have the lid to write on. I tape isnpiring blog posts, things OANers have said that inspire me, quotes and stuff to the underside of the lid so i see it when i open it.Ontop i have my poetry books, some old books, books of fairytales, and some refrence books. I have papers, and some parchment paper and a qull pens nad ink for when i feel oldfashiondy. We ahve a SONOS system and so i ahul the player into my room and play some soundtracks ive found.
    Im thinking of getting our OLD laptop and convincing mum to let me have it, so since it has no internet it will not distract me. And its old and has clacky keyboards. I HAVE to ahve clacky keyboards. Slient ones make me wnat to rip out my hair
    I do have a really big green desk, and i want my writing space to be the focal point of my room so i'm stuck on what i use. I do so much in my room. Art, read, cut up magazines, and i ahve a lot of stuffies and dolls. Cuz theres no rule that says teens cant play with dolls. =3
    I love this blog! Sorry i rambled...

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