Creating a Functional Writing Space

Creating a Functional Writing StationIn order for you to disappear into the worlds of your imagination, you must carve out a functional writing space in the real world that allows you the right elements for slipping into your creative zone.

Those elements vary from writer to writer. You might prefer peace and quiet. You might like the bustle of a corner booth in the local coffee bistro. Perhaps you’d rather work right from your home. Or maybe you’re more productive if you drive to work.

It’s important to discover the atmosphere that best encourages your creativity and fosters that atmosphere as much as possible. This week, I thought I’d share my own writing space.

The Computer Cabinet

View From the Top

Looking Up

Meet Howie, My Computer

Shelves

Behind the Monitor

Within Reach

Tray #1

Tray #2

Print Tray and Subwoofer

Bulletin Board #1A

Bulletin Board #1B

Bulletin Board #2A

Bulletin Board #2B

Done for the Day!

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What makes your writing space special? What would you change if you could? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in Apple Podcast or Amazon Music).

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Thanks for letting us get a peek into your writing process, K.M. 🙂 Seeing each writer’s individual writing space is always interesting.

    My writing space is in a corner of my bedroom. I have a simple desk with all of my writing books stacked on the end, my laptop, and a mug filled with pens, pencils, highlighters, etc. There’s one bulletin board with some quotes and pictures tacked on, and one desk drawer filled with notes, office supplies, some index cards about my WIP, etc. An office chair, a trash can. That’s about it. I know, boring 😉

  2. Your keyboard bears almost as much use as a programmer’s.

  3. Love that you are able to close the doors when you are done. Thanks for the personal tour. :O)

  4. ** What makes your writing station special? ***

    It’s still a work in progress because I’ve only recently embraced my special organizational needs. I’m spread out over a wide range (how can you work in such a tiny space?)–pretty much the entire dining room. I have multiple 14×14 white boards on the wall (Target has them for $10), along with a couple propped up in various places and a ribbon board; Post Its with the names of my characters stuck on the desk wall. Behind me is a bookshelf with baskets for my two current projects. I might be going into a third and fourth, so I’ll need more baskets. One basket is turquoise, and the other is an off-white weave–both so I can associate the location of the materials with appearance.

    ** What would you change if you could? **

    The desk. I hate the desk. I bought one of those enormous desks with cubbyholes for everything–wanted more room to spread out. The cubbyholes are darn near useless, and even the big draw and shelf is useless (I don’t file like normal people. Drawers are extremely bad. Things tend to get lost forever if I use it).

  5. Thanks K for sharing your space. It looks very organized. And Snoopy is an inspiration for me too. He makes me smile, helping me to lighten up. My office space holds most of my materials, but I write anywhere but there, preferring my dining table or even my bed to plant myself with my laptop.

  6. @Mia: Nothing with a stack of books is ever boring!

    @Daga: It’s been a great keyboard, one of the best I’ve ever had. But it’s getting worn out. 🙁

    @Diane: The whole computer cabinet idea is really very handy. Love it.

    @Linda: Sometimes my entire floor gets added to my writing space. That sibnificantly ups my space!

    @Lynn: I’ve never owned a laptop. But I love the idea of portability, so my next computer will probably be a laptop.

  7. That is an awesome writing space! I am quite jealous, especially that you can close it up when you’re done. I don’t have a special writing space, except maybe the couch…

  8. Thank you for the glimpse into your writing space, K.M. After years of sitting back to back in a 10×13 home office with DH, I have my own space which is our basement storage room converted to my office. Painted yellow and away from the hub of activity in the house, I am totally blessed. Often it’s just me and the (6!) visiting-on-rotation cats! I’ve ordered a laptop so I can be more mobile and thus inspired by different outside surroundings given the summer. And just as I can fall asleep at a rock concert (Don’t ask!), I can also write in the noisiest of places too!

  9. @Jenn: Can’t fault the couch for comfiness!

    @Kelly: Yellow sounds like a good color for a writing space. Calming and inspiring.

  10. My writing office is a room in the corner of my house with three windows. I can shut it off from the rest of the house, so mess B gone when I’m done for the day. The soundtracks I listen to when I write are just to my left, Thesaurus is to my right.

    Bookcases are in the left corner of the room. Dictionaries and other reference books are in the bookcase, and I have to get up if I need one. If I’m lazy, which I usually am, I have Dictionary.com bookmarked on my computer.

    Rescued my chair from a garage sale. It used to live at Union Station in Kansas City, so it has a history. It’s an antique wooden office chair on wheels, (like you see in old detective movies)and I stripped and re-varnished it.

    I rescued my desk, which is actually a small hand-made kitchen table, from Goodwill.

    Catch-all filing cabinet on the floor to my left and trashcan on the floor to my right.

    A plant sits in the corner, a gift from my co-workers when my dad died. I hope I don’t kill it. Plants don’t seem to like me.

    And my office has a ceiling fan.

  11. Oh thank you for sharing your work space…it is giving me ideas.

  12. @Lorna: Three windows sounds lovely. I have two windows in my writing room, and it’s wonderful to be able to bring so much outside light in. I’m usually too lazy to use my dictionary too, actually. I almost always use the Encarta version on my computer.

    @Jessica: Oh good! I hope you come up with something fantastic.

  13. I have a cabinet desk almost exactly like that, keyboard worn out and all! Guess great minds think alike..

  14. Very cool! You know, I’ve never met anyone else who had a cabinet.

  15. I always thought those cabinets were just the best thing ever…but never actually got one myself. We have an office, but I never use it. It’s a catch-all for “stuff”…though hopefully someday we’ll turn it into a bonefide library.

    I work in the living room on my loveseat, with my laptop. All of my outlining, notes, etc are on the computer, so unless I’m editing (where I need a hard copy for marking up), I have no paper to worry about. If I want a change of scenery, I grab my netbook and head out to a bookstore or something…but that doesn’t happen too often. 😉

    If I were home writing full time, I’d want to redo the office with a big, wide desk to spread out on, just to make it more of an official “working” environment. But since I sit at a desk all day at work, I like the lack of formality for writing at night.

  16. One thing I like about the cabinet is that it provides a nice balance between a formal desk area and an informal nook.

  17. Oh, I love this. I love Snoopy. I love dust bunnies, and I love your courage in pointing them out! Oh shoot. I just love you!

    I love your headphones. I kill every pair I have cuz I get tangled in the cord. Right now all that’s left is the plug-in part(read that as no earpieces left–all it’s good for is to stop the “singing” when I turn the ‘puter on and off.)

    I’m “stationed” now in my son’s old bedroom, which used to be my husband’s old bedroom. I describe it here:

    http://thewritepursuit.blogspot.com/2010/01/writing-room-of-my-own-tour.html

    It needs cleaning up today, and the bookshelves have collected a bazillion more books since the pictures were taken.

    What I would change: (1) More efficient heat and cooling. The room is COLD in winter and HOT in summer. (2) Increasing the size so I could move the two bookcases from downstairs up. (3)Some completed manuscripts in the storage boxes. 🙂

  18. Temperature problems are no fun. My writing room is usually perfect in the summer, but my hands and feet are almost always cold the other nine months.

  19. I am most impressed that the cabinet shuts to become a clear, clean area. My sense of organization is greatly impressed. I work on my laptop, on my lap, on the couch in the living room. I like to be where others (read husband/son) are. I tune them out while I’m working. That universal mom thing.

  20. I am most impressed that the cabinet shuts to become a clear, clean area. My sense of organization is greatly impressed. I work on my laptop, on my lap, on the couch in the living room. I like to be where others (read husband/son) are. I tune them out while I’m working. That universal mom thing.

  21. I’ve yet to master this art of working in a room with others. I talk to myself too much as a write – trying lines out loud, maybe even getting out of my chair to choreograph an action scene. Being able to close the door on my writing allows me the privacy to act in weird and strange ways!

  22. I always love seeing other people’s writing stations. I have 2 writing stations. One is my office which I now share with my husband. We have separate desks and computers. Yay.

    The 2nd writing station is the couch when I’d rather hand write some thoughts…or use the laptop so I’m sitting in the sun that pours in onto the couch.

  23. Not having to share a computer (or a desk) is always a good thing!

  24. Great post! Thank you for sharing your working space with us- it’s always interesting and fun to see other writer’s desks!
    My work space? Hmm, let’s see- lots & lots of quotes, pictures and illustrations against writer’s block, a Venetian Mask, millions of post its so my ideas wouldn’t fly away, cold coffee (too lazy to get a refill) and my two dogs (keeps the feet warm and the smile on my face) 🙂

  25. Interesting post! We discussed writing workspaces on our blog as well — it was sparked after an interview with an author revealed his work space was actually a 3′ by 3′ cabinet. Funny to see yours is too, K.M! My cohort, Shannon, uses a spare guest closet. Maybe something about being in tight spaces allows for better focus on the task at hand?

  26. @Lua: A Venetian mask – very cool! I’m notorious for slurping my coffee right off the bat. Can’t stand it when it gets lukewarm.

    @Duolit: Since I sit outside the cabinet, it doesn’t feel constricted. I can close the doors most of the way around me if I want privacy, but I usually keep them flung wide open.

  27. I use my recliner, my comfortable Florida State Seminoles Blanket, and my laptop.

    I keep all my notes right in with the paragraphs, higlighted, and capitalized.

    When I’m done, my laptop goes back to it’s little spot, and my blanket gets folded.

    At 5am, that’s the most comfortable place I know. 🙂

  28. …besides my bed 😀

  29. I was just gonna say that at 5 a.m. bed was the comfiest place *I* could think of! :p

  30. My writing space is similar: a desk is in the middle of my closet. So I too just close the doors when I’m done and want to clean up! One thing I would like though, is more space or shelves to organize and keep all my stuff close at hand.
    It looks like you have a good system going on! Thank you for sharing. : )

  31. There’s something very cozy about a closet. I used to hide in them with a flashlight and a book when I was a child.

  32. Absolutely love the mess be gone aspect of your writing space. My space stays messy for all to see, but then, it matches the rest of my house. So as much as I liked your writing space as soon as I saw it, I won’t emulate; It would throw off my whole decor!

  33. As all writers know, holding to a theme is important – even a messy one!

  34. Mine may be getting ready to change as I’m supposed to pick up a laptop later today.

    Currently my desktop on a plain desk, one of my old kitchen chairs (not a wooden kind, a comfortable padded one), a notebook under my left forearm (yes, I should move it outta my way…) FSU mousepad (Kelly! I either didn’t know or forgot you were an FSU fan! lol!)

    But I’ve always thought those cabinet things look SO uncomfortable! What about not having a knee nook? Does that bother you? If I tried to write there for any length of time I fear my kees would be bruised…

  35. The keyboard tray pulls out, like a drawer, up to about three feet, so there’s plenty of leg room. And the fact that I can use the printer tray as a foot rest actually contributes to comfort.

  36. I hate tight spaces (claustrophbic), so I have a 10’x10′ office with a big roll-top desk, two small bookshelves by the door and my piano. My husband was sweet enough to create more storage in the closet, so I also have a small bookshelf in there, along with several other shelves. I have one window that looks out to the backyard, which is great, but the other faces the neighbor’s house (keep that one curtained, obviously). Unfortunately, my office has also become a bit of a catch-all (anyone else have 2 vaccuum cleaners in theirs?) and at times looks like a papermill exploded in it (thanks to my 16-mo-old). Otherwise, I couldn’t be happier.

  37. I’ve always loved rolltop desks. There’s something so nostalgic about them!

  38. omg!! LOL i loved this — so cool!

    i’ve never seen anything like that before 😀

  39. Thanks! I’ve used this cabinet for over ten years – and I still think it’s cool. 🙂

  40. You’re so right! Writing takes time, commitment, and it always helps to have those good habits around. 🙂

  41. Oh, yes, the good thing about good habits is they’re ridiculously versatile!

  42. HA! Yes, GO NOLES!
    BTW, Wendy, good job getting the laptop!
    I loooove mine.

  43. Isn’t it great having a work area that closes and hides all the chaos?! I have 2 work stations: in my living room and in my office. I write in longhand at a secretary desk in my living room; notebooks and papers cover that, but the desk closes at the end of the day! I transcribe my longhand notes on my laptop that’s in my office. I have lots of books and inspirational quotes and things that make me smile around both work stations!

  44. Do you find separating the longhand and transcription stations helpful? Or does it just work out that way?

  45. My laptop is indispensable for my writing. I like to write outside best, but if it’s chilly I sit on the sofa bed in my office or on the living room couch. I prefer outside, which means winter is tough on my writing. I have a fabulous desk, but it’s a real challenge for me to create while sitting there – it’s really only good for editing or gritting my teeth and writing when I know I have to.

  46. I’ve never used a laptop, but I’ll often take my editing outside if it’s nice. I love being able to do so, but I actually find the outdoors distracting. All those lovely plant and animal sounds!

  47. I’m really glad I found you! but I’m new, so I’m clueless… whats snoopy do for you? (not judging, just asking)

    that was fun to read! Is it bad to write in bed? I realize there is no right in write but I like it because the cat and dog can join me here. I have a loft, which is lovely but you have to climb the spiral staircase. I can do it, no problem, as can the kittay but that leaves the dog at the bottom of the steps, looking up, pathetically. yes, I could carry her up, but the minute I do she wants to go down. So for now, I am perched in my bed or in a ridiculously expensive relax he back chair.

    p.s. I have the EXACT same glass!!!

  48. Mostly, Snoopy just sits around and looks cute. 😉 If you’re not familiar with the “Snoopy at the Typewriter” comics from Charles Schultz’s Peanuts cartoon, I highly recommend them. They’re hysterical.

    I really don’t think there’s any “bad” place to write. We all do whatever works best for us.

  49. I love the idea of having a cupboard for a writing space! Awesome idea. That will be something to think about if I ever get a dedicated writing space.

    At the moment, I write on my desk, which is also used for everything else. All my writing material is stored electronically on my laptop, which is great, storage wise, but sometimes (especially when I see posts like this one) I long for paper based files and folders.

    Great desk! I’m jealous!

  50. I love the ease of storing files electronically, but there really is something special about having piles of resource books notebooks full of inky scrawl sitting around. At the very least, it makes you feel more writerly!

  51. Wow – that is CRAZY awesome… I think I am inspired to get something I can “close all away” at the end of the day…

    My problem is that no one space works for me all the time. I’ve gone from my couch to my desk to the Library to Starbucks and everywhere in between. I guess it depends on the day… But I loved your pictures and I don’t think I’ve actually laughed out loud in a while (because it’s nice to know I’m not alone in some of my quirky habits) so thanks for sharing!

  52. That’s the beauty of a laptop! You can tote it around around wherever you want, and then, at the end of the day, pop it in your cupboard and close the doors anyway! Seriously, though, I love the cupboard. It’s kind of like an upright rolltop desk.

  53. My desk for doing all my internet businesses is kind of like that but I duck out into a different room to do my writing. The other room is a spare room in which the only objects are a bare desk and spare dining room chair. There is a big window that lets lots of light in and lets me do lots of looking out when I am there. I am not usually there tho, which is why its so neat I suppose. Its not that I don’t write often but the computer I use in there is a laptop and so I get portable often. On my “writing days” you will find me outside or at the kitchen table or on the couch in the living room more often than you will find me in my writing office.

  54. Big windows are important to me. I have two in my writing room, so the room is always bright. But my desk chair faces away from them, so I’m not distracted by the temptation to stare outside!

  55. Oh man, writing outside?! OHhh, sign me up! lol
    Except, 5am looks a little…well….dark.

    Maaan oh man, I have to have my window closed at work to keep me focused on the task at hand.

    Especially in the summer! I catch myself staring out the messed up little slats in my blinds and wishing I was outisde hahaha.

    sooo tempting.

  56. I compromise with myself: I get to enjoy long walks after supper if I sit down and write before supper.

  57. Belle L. says

    Wonderful post! I so enjoyed the humorous way you shared your writing station with us. And I’ll take your word for it that your chair is comfier than it looks. 😉

  58. I’m sure there are comfier chairs out there, but this one works for me. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

  59. I think my favorite part of your writing area is that you can easily hide it! I love doors. 🙂

  60. Me too. There’s something very satisfying about closing those doors at the end of the day.

  61. I feel like a computer cabinet is probably the best idea EVER. I feel like I could just put it in a corner, and when I go there, I would be blocked off from the rest of the world for a little while, like a miniature oasis of writing bliss. It’s genius. WHY didn’t I beg for my grandmother’s old computer cabinet? WHY??? In all seriousness, I love the desk I have now, but it’s facing the door of my room, and I usually have to sit there to do homework, not write. Therefore, it has no emotional connection with me yet. It is an L-shaped desk, and usually very crowded…maybe I could turn it where I face the wall instead of the door. Though that would make me feel slightly paranoid about killers sneaking up behind me… haha. Thanks for the inspiring look at your own work space!

  62. I’ve actually gotten rid of my cabinet since writing this post. I have a plain ol’ desk now. I miss the cabinet. It was a bit unwieldy and didn’t work well within the room’s interior design (such as it was), but it was a great writing station. The doors were wonderful for blocking line-of-sight distractions, and the keyboard was at just the right height for typing. Ah me, now you’re making me wax nostalgic!

  63. Both! It’s nice having a little change in scenery. Plus it gives me more room at each desk to keep my laptop in my office and most of my writing supplies at my other desk.

  64. I thrive on routine, so I seem to do best when I can write in the same spot every day. But every now and then, it does provide a nice break to take my work outside.

  65. Adding up to my inspiration list. I am just planning to make an efficient workspace for myself. Yours can add up for inspiration

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I don’t use this desk anymore, but I miss it. It was just the right height for typing – kept my wrists and my back happy.

  66. Gary Anderson says

    In September, we moved from Minnesota to Arizona. This gave me the chance to buy new furniture and setup my office as I wanted it. I have a table for the desk and a credenza behind me. Plenty of room for files, notebooks, printer, and more. But I still write on the couch on the TV room or the great room. Or outside, which I didn’t get to do during Minnesota winters!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Writing outside is fabulous! I started doing that on a regular basis last summer. It was magic. I imagine you’ll have to retreat indoors once those Arizona summers hit though. 😉

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