Setting Up the Effective Writer’s Office

Whenever I have moved to a new home, I run into the same kind of organizational difficulties.

For example, say I want to write a story, but I can’t because my chair and desk are cluttered with moving boxes. Well, I’d like to move the boxes, but I can’t put the boxes in the closet because the door to the closet is blocked by a large piece of furniture. I’d like to put the furniture where I want it, but I can’t move the furniture because the floor in the room where I want it needs painting. I’d like to paint the floor, but I can’t paint the floor because I don’t have the right color paint. I’d like to go get the paint, but I can’t get the right paint because my car is in the shop.

And so forth.

As a result, I’m not only frustrated, I can’t tap that particular swirl of inspiration and use it to write my story.

Later, when everything in my new home is squared away and I am settled in, whenever I want to write a story, I’m in a great position to do so. I can immediately sit at my desk, grab whatever tools I need for writing, and get to work.

Over the years I’ve learned that one of the ways a writer becomes more professional is by surrounding herself with the proper tools and the most comfortable systems she needs to work more effectively.

In short, she creates an effective writer’s office.

In general, this entails:

1. A comfortable space in which to work, whether that’s a garret or a patio, a soft bed or a hard chair, a high tech hardscape or a Victorian drawing room, or whatever.
2. The right tools, whether that’s a good pen and plenty of paper or a touch-screen laptop, or a lightweight laptop with Scrivener or Pages software, or a heavyweight desktop computer with Dragon or Speech Recogniser, or whatever.
3. The right aural and visual environment, whether that’s dead quiet or heavy metal guitar shredding, a breathtaking view of a mountain lake or a bust of Hemingway at your elbow, or whatever.
4. The right reference materials, whether that’s your own notes on preparatory thoughts or props that help you get in your characters’ frame of mind, an encyclopedia or an internet connection, or whatever.
5. The right feeling, whether that’s a creative mood, a historic sense of writing well in that place, the takeaway after proven warmup exercises, or whatever.

An effective office is as important a support of your best writing as an effective wardrobe is in helping you look and feel your best.

Every hour you spend setting up and maintaining your effective office will pay regularly repeated dividends over the years as you gain career momentum and add emotional power to your most important writing efforts.

I can recall many times that helping aspiring writers create a solid platform on which to work has led to the launch of a far more satisfied and successful wordsmith.

Setting up an effective writer’s office is different from, but akin to learning the proper footwork or other fundamentals of a sport. Not only my own experiences, but those of others I have helped, make clear that it’s so much easier to concentrate and produce compelling material that accurately reflects your thoughts and feelings when you don’t keep butting up against practical impediments and obstacles.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings about all this in the comments below.

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