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Does Your Writing Space Matter?
We recently remodeled our smallest bedroom into a "real" office. My husband and I had to stop and think "what did we want in this office?" He had his own needs, a coin collection to store and projects he needs to do for work. I wanted the ideal writing space.
We decided wall cabinets with under cabinet lighting, a ten foot countertop and base cabinets with files would be a good start. Room at this counter for two chairs and two computers would add to the room's perfection. Add an old oak desk, printer stand and filing cabinet and you have our office.
What was the ideal color for the walls and ceiling? We decided on "cinnamon toast" and for the ceiling "eggshell." I don't know whether I should write or have breakfast in there!
Would my new office help give me ideas? Does a quiet atmosphere with a lovely view and sunny window actually help with ideas? Or is this just frosting on the cake? Could you get just as good ideas at a crowded kitchen table?
I've come to the conclusion that the setting does help. Yes, you might get a great storyline at the family table. If, however, you have a place to go to think, research and read, the odds are your story will move much more smoothly.
Having organized files are essential. If everything is at your fingertips you will use it. File your guidelines, cover letters and market guides within easy reach.
For instance, I wrote an exceptionally good description of a middle grade mystery for a cover letter. The story was rejected, time to resubmit. If I had not filed all my cover letters by date, I might not have bothered to look for it. This way I found it immediately and was able to use the excellent description again. Sometimes we forget how we worded something the first time.
A neat, clutter free counter is priceless. When you have room to spread out research books and study guides it helps greatly. It makes me nervous to have too much clutter around. I write better when I have control over my space. Our desk had no room to lay out any type of books. I use our counter for market and research books all the time.
Make sure you have good lighting in your writing space. I avoid harsh or fluorescent lighting. You need to be able to see your computer screen and books with ease. My under cabinet lighting is very easy on the eyes and I write longer than I did before.
A comfortable chair that can be adjusted to either a desk level or counter level is another plus. Our computer had been on the oak desk. On the counter top we have a keyboard tray underneath. This was a little hard to get used to. I love it now, and find I type faster with the tray.
What is your view? The simplest of settings can lead to ideas if you let your imagination run wild. Even a neighbor's empty wall can come alive with thought. What if you added a bird house or window box with an exotic plant? Can you think of an idea now?
The view from our office is our backyard that runs into the woods. This view changes with the seasons. This is especially true in the North. This past winter after a deep snowfall I was inspired to write Snow Day, a story about a boy that gets an unexpected day off from school and builds a snow cave. Our big old pine tree became The Lonesome Pine in this story.
A tom turkey out on the edge of the woods inspired Over the River and Through the Woods. This story is about a little boy that secretly buys a turkey call so he can call out a turkey for his grandfather. His grandfather has a photo album of all the forest creatures and he needs a picture of a turkey.
Put a CD or cassette player in your writing space. The best of the movie themes help with romance and adventure. Maybe an Alfred Hitchcock movie theme CD would help with your mystery.
Put things in your writing space that you cherish and that motivates you. I love children's book covers, especially from old books. When I look at them, I have the urge to write a story for children. A book cover of an old Victorian house and little girl inspired my mystery, Twas A Dark and Stormy Night, about a girl spending the night with her grandmother. During a bad storm a crashing noise in the attic leads to this girl finding her grandmother's missing cherished locket.
Have you received your first acceptance? Have you taken a writing course? Put any diplomas or achievements on the wall to encourage your writing. When you go into this room it will be a happy reminder of what you are and want to become.
Have you been published? Frame the article, story, or cover. Have you received your first check? Make a copy of the check and display it. It will be a happy reminder that someone liked your work enough to pay for it.
Even if your writing space is a closet or a desk in the corner of your bedroom, it does matter. Make it your own in every possible way.
Christine Collier began her writing career as an "empty nester Mom" after Amy, Adam and Andrew flew the nest. She became a first time grandmother of Emma this past fall. Collier completed a writing course at the Institute of Children's Literature, and is presently taking the advanced writing course at ICL. She enjoys writing middle grade fiction, especially mysteries. Recently Christine wrote a short adult "cozy" mystery which she enjoyed very much. Her work has appeared in Holidays & Seasonal Celebrations, WeeOnes online children's magazine, Once Upon A Time, and the Institute of Children's Literature. Collier also writes a chat news column for the newsletter for children's writers, From Dolly's Desk firstname.lastname@example.org telling of sales, markets and good news about her fellow writers. She can be reached at email@example.com