Our environment is not always ideal for writing, plotting, or revision. I have a noisy cat, televisions blaring all over, and a rabble of neighbors who have seemingly coordinated their lawn mowing in subsequent shifts–they’re secretly plotting to annoy me, I think. Even with a number of household distractions, it’s not too difficult to find or make your own writing space. Carve out a cubby in your bedroom, rope off a corner in your basement, or box in a little office in the attic.
Natural Vs. Unnatural Light
This is my number one concern. While writing, I like my laptop to be bathed in the glow of an overcast sky. But if it’s too sunny out, the glow becomes an irritating reflection. That’s when I turn to lamp light and slip my curtains shut. Whether you want natural or unnatural light for your ideal writing space is up to you. You may choose to be like me, leaving your options open to either. Or, you may select a desk by lamp light or a table beneath an open window.
Closed Door VS. Open Door
Some writers choose to write out in the middle of the house among family, friends and pets. Others find comfort in being able to close a door and focus. Stephen King reveals his preference for the latter in his biography/craft book On Writing. Being able to close the door, he explains, allows you to shut out the rest of the world. On the other hand, he also stresses the importance of knowing when to open the door. And you should from time to time. No matter where your writing space is set, there should always be time dedicated to getting out of the chair and away from the laptop. Talk to people. Spend time with them. Observe the living world around you. Discover new characters.
I like having tools on my desk. Even if I typically write on a laptop, I like to have pens, pencils, highlighters, erasers, sharpeners, notebooks, journals, sticky notes, and staplers at my disposal. Some writers may take the minimalist approach, leaving only a pen and a notebook on their dedicated surface. I would argue that this concept also applies to the space around the desk, not just the area on the surface. I have a habit of posting pictures and notes and brief sketches all around my space for inspiration. Some may choose the white cube space, with very few items plastered on the walls. This may have more to do with writing style than we think. Do you write when your mind is a blank slate, filling empty pages with thoughts that are raw and organic? Or do you write when your mind is teeming with an abundance of ideas, some in agreement, others mingling? The answer may reveal the kind of writing space you aim to design.