Friday Fun – What does your writing desk look like?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: A writer’s desk is sacred ground. Some are covered in haphazard heaps of half-finished manuscripts, illegible notes, and stacks and stacks of books. Others are pristine – blank and clean like the unwritten page. What’s your fancy? What does your desk look like, and is it the way you like it, or do you wish you could settle in to work in a different setting?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: Oh my, I’ve just looked at my desk. And, wow! My desk is covered with oodles of various small pieces of papers that contain notes, story ideas, titles of books to get, Twitter handles of people to keep track of, account passwords, and a few notebooks and pads of paper. I have a few napkins and mints here, too. And pens! Wow, look at all the pens hiding under the paper! I do all my writing on my laptop, which is portable, so I seldom sit and write at my desk – which probably explains how the desk has become a catch-all for all these other things! I think I need to do some cleaning.

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: Since a picture is worth a thousand words, that’s what I’m going with here.


  1. My MacBook Pro – Only two years old and we’ve already (recently) been in to see the “Geniuses” at the Apple store for a new logic board, fan, and battery. I swear I will never go back to a PC, but sometimes the Mac romance does wear a little thin. Or, maybe, it’s just technology I have a problem with in general.
  2. My old-fashioned tools – “Scribbler” notebook (in which I write all my random daily jottings – phone call notes, quickie reminders, mind map outlines for posts, etc.) and my magic wand. (No, I’m not kidding – basswood, very plain, helps me think.)
  3. One of two kitty bosses – Miss Bella Mama Thunderpaws – taking her ease and making sure I don’t slack off.
  4. Notebooks & Sketchbooks – filled to the very last page with ideas, thoughts, scribbles, sketches, etc. … the kind I don’t want to lose, but am never quite sure how I’ll put them to good use.
  5. Piles of books and notes on the art & craft of writing – Notes from conferences, non-fiction writing books, notebooks full of bits of wisdom culled from other writers and various writerly sources. (Often where I go when looking for post ideas for this blog!)
  6. To be read (and re-read) book piles – Only two of the half dozen or so throughout the house.
  7. Unread Poets & Writers magazines – I will get to them. Eventually. (And until I do, I still have my podcasts …)
  8. My trusty thesaurus – My most valuable writing tool.
  9. Unpaid bills, unread memos, random business cards – All stuff that should be filed … someday … when I’m done writing.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: Wow, Jamie, that picture is worth 1,000 words! Especially love the kitty house. My desk is much more mundane, although I love my actual desk. It’s made of cherry and it is simple and beautiful and I love when it is all cleared off so I can see the lovely wood. Usually the center is clear, with a few things to either side of the blotter. My planner, my journal, a few pens. When I sit at the desk I keep a few hummingbird mementos in sight. One hummingbird is carved from a dark wood and my husband brought it back from a trip to Costa Rica (where he saw many hummingbirds.) Another is a brightly colored hummingbird that is swooping down over a votive candle–that one came from a friend. Hummingbird is my totem and always reminds me that I am here for joy and hard work–and, especially when I’m writing, the two are not mutually exclusive!

DeskDeborah Lee Luskin: It would have been easier to describe my desk than it was to figure out how to insert this photo here, but after Jamie’s techno-wizardry, I had to give it a shot. Even so, the photo is deceiving. It was taken eighteen months ago, when I was just starting Ellen, the novel I’m writing. Now, there’s no snow on the ground – and there are lots of piles of pages and books on my desk. But it’s too late to go out and snap a photo in the dark. I write on a laptop, with an extended keyboard, which I place on my lap with the computer on the desk. And I stare out the window. A lot.





wendy-shotWendy Thomas: Can’t even show a picture of my desk, it’s that bad. I tend to collect clutter in the same way that squirrels are attracted to the peanut lady in the park.

I sit my butt at my desk every day, as such I have many, *many* projects going on at the same time. I *always* have a pile of books to read or reference on my right. Seriously, I’ve tried to get that pile down but in a spontaneous generation kind of way, it seems to grow on its own.

I also have my breast cancer pink timer, located on the corner of my desk. I use that tool more than anything as I’ll set it for 30 minutes at a time to reach a writing goal.

On my left is the pile of various loose papers that need my attention, as well as my calendar book. It’s a goal this weekend to go through that pile in order to get it down to a non-Vesuvius size.

The last thing that I have (besides my computer of course) is one of those single picture clip things. Each morning I write a to-do list on an index card and I clip it to the holder which then sits just to the right behind my laptop. It’s pretty hard to forget a task that needs to be done when it’s looking at you right in the face all day long.

Organization has never been one of my strengths. I tend to keep lists and do a cleaning purge when things start to fall over.

39 thoughts on “Friday Fun – What does your writing desk look like?

    • I have just installed a hummingbird hook outside my office window. Now all I need to do is fill the feeder & hope the little guys find it!

    • I worked for the first year or so sitting in a beat up, old chair that I literally picked up off the side of the road. No desk. No table. Just me and my laptop. Oddly, I never really felt all that uncomfortable. 😉

  1. My writing desk is a laptop on my kitchen table, which gives me a nice view out the window and allows me dangeously easy access to snacks. Someday, I will carve myself out a permanent writing corner in this chaotic house.

    • There IS a balance to be struck when downsizing. My desk is seriously oversized (it’s a huge drafting table), and while I enjoy the space, I also (as you can see) tend to clutter it up with things (cat excluded – she’d be offended at being called “clutter”). I may downsize eventually – something antique and wooden. We have a great flea market nearby where you can pick up really nice furniture for under $100. Might be something there waiting for me! 😉

      • My drafting table left a few years ago. We’ve kept a big1950’s wood doctor’s office desk we refinished – it’s beautiful but not really practical for computer use. And there’s the white parson’s table that started out as a dining table but makes a great flat area. And I have a smaller oak “farmhouse” style table that works great as a desk for me – but is still dismantled. Just need to reshuffle stuff around – and it would help if kid would finally get settled in a place large enough to hold all her stuff and furniture…there’s hope, I keep saying that.

  2. I posted my desk for Fun Friday on my Dame Gussie blog. I even posted a photo of my desk and my constant companion, Yoda. Thank you all for sharing. Jamie, I love the photo tags.

  3. Jamie, I know it’s not on your desk, but what is that fascinating thing on the wall, facing you as you sit? Sorry to be so nosey but I can’t contain my curiosity!

      • It’s definitely a type tray, but now I also want an apothecary shelf! Did a Google search and saw some beautiful images. Very cool!!

      • Your kitties are gorgeous 🙂 I can relate to the hair thing. I used to have a ginger and white, but now I have a tabby. I think I start to see why tweed was so popular with country people!

        I’m glad I’m not the only kid who had invisible horses instead of invisible friends 🙂 I hope your riding lesson goes well, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Though you might not feel much like sitting down for a while…

      • My ride was WONDERFUL. I was amazed at how much came back so quickly! We even did some work with no stirrups and a few canters. My body isn’t complaining now, but I know it may be feeling differently tomorrow morning. 😉 I already can’t wait to go back!

        @dapplegrey – Filling the type tray with treasures is so much fun. I love finding little things from different places – some of those things go back to my high school days (a very long time ago).

        @knotrune – Your comment about country folk and tweed made me laugh. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? My kitties said thank you for the compliments and give their regards to your tabby.

  4. …mine is a tiny studio on a hill at my farm …it has a view to the ‘extinct’ Mt Wilson which at present is covered in mist. An ancient desk, piles of books for research and my trusty PC and laptop …oh and the cat! I have been attempting to be a little more disciplined in keeping it tidy but a wee possum soon sorted that out. Love this blog and the interaction although this is probably the only time I’ve actually made a comment …please keep up the great work I wan’t to be more interactive with like minded folk …blessings …Penny Reilly

    • Hello, Penny. Merry meet!
      Your studio sounds like the perfect setting for a story! From the cat and the view of ‘extinct’ Mt. Wilson to the “wee possum” … perfect!

      So glad to have you here and happy you joined in the conversation with a comment. We love having the chance to talk with readers of the blog and learn more about what you’re up to.

      Happy writing!

      • Thank you Jamie and Merry meet to you too! Sorry I haven’t replied sooner but I’ve been holed up in the storms here and working/writing my third book …I tend to avoid cyber-space when I’m in the ‘zone.’ *grins and waves* …blessings …Penny

      • No apologies needed, Penny. Stay safe, war, & dry, and keep on writing! 🙂 Gotta ride the zone when you find it!

  5. A desk that was my grandmother’s, in a tiny, tiny cabin in the woods, with no electricity. I use kerosene lanterns and wood fires in the winter. After writing with pen and paper and the assistance of cats, I then return to the current century and transpose into the laptop. I find this way I am less distracted by things like dogs, kid, the internet, the latest book I’m reading, the weeding that needs to be done, etc. Great question by the way; I love reading about everyone’s writing spaces.

    • Lisa,
      That sounds like a great way to process your writing – I love the idea of kind of time traveling to capture your story. I’m also glad to hear that the cats get to help. Cats are usually quite adept at time travel (or so I’m told).

      PS – Love the name of your blog. “Story River” has such a wonderful sound to it!

      PPS – I was also glad to read your thoughts on “Wild,” I couldn’t get into it either and I’m glad I’m not the only one.

      • I got a kick out of your comment about cats and time travel. One of the cats is named Pixel, after The Cat Who Walked Through Walls by Robert Heinlein, one of my husband’s favorite authors. The cat could walk through walls because no one had ever told her she couldn’t. All the things we could do if only no one told us we couldn’t.

  6. Sadly, I don’t have a writing desk per se; more often than not it happens to be whatever desk is available. But I always carry a notebook and pen handy!

  7. Since a fire that destroyed our house we have been living in a tiny apartment. I have a small black desk, very simple construction, no drawers, in a corner. I have a stack of books by Cappachione. In that pile is an issue of Poetry magazine, several filled notebooks, my college catalogue and schedule of classes and a ticket for not wearing my seat belt. To the right is a stack of unpaid bills and to the left are my art supplies, including oil pastels, sketchbooks, crayons, colored pencils, and charcoal pencils. In front of the art supplies I have an insence burner and oil lamp. Fire and smoke inspire me, but not when they are destoying my house! I have a small, antique desk lamp from Salvation Army thrift store and there is a lava lamp on the back right corner. I keep moving the lava lamp but my husband puts it back. I like it but It is a bit too whimsical for my desk. Oh, yes, everything has to be so austere.Yikes. Right now there is a carton of cigarettes and a telephone taking up my writing space. In this apartment I have satellite locations for writing. I sit at my husband’s desk to write on the computer. I write my morning journal entries on the couch or in bed.I can’t wait to finish rebuilding the house so I can move back into my office. In my office I have space, a precious commodity here in this apartment, and I am surrounded by things that inspire me such as my stereo, books, and fish tanks. I do a lot of writing while riding the bus so I keep a satchel with notebooks and pens and art supplies with me at all times. Nothing fancy. I can’t write if the journal is too ornate or the pen is too expensive. Such pressure! I like spiral notebooks and Bic pens.

  8. Pingback: Weekend Edition – The Writer’s Home Office plus Good Reads and Writing Tips | Live to Write - Write to Live

  9. As a retiree and empty nester I have down sized to a one bedroom apartment and as an aspiring writer within the last six or seven months I have thought of home office options.

    Living in southwest Florida I often bicycle to local parks or the beach where my thoughts and inspiration are expanded, however a home office has captured my attention and imagination.

    Reading this blog and seeing the options presented, has motivated me to look closer at a home office, thank you Lisa, Jamie & Diane!

  10. Pingback: Writing. If you’re not scared, you’re doing it wrong. | Live to Write - Write to Live

  11. Pingback: Where Women Write | Sonya La McCllough

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s