Weekend Edition – The Writer’s Home Office plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

In Search of the Perfect Writer’s Home Office:

2 cat deskAs I mentioned last week, I’m moving next Saturday. Our new place is about six hundred square feet (give or take) smaller than the place we’re in now, so downsizing is the name of the game. I’m fine with this (even excited about it), except for one thing: my desk.

My work desk is a huge drafting table. It sits up high, has a span of nearly five feet, and is a remnant of my (much) younger days when I thought I was going to be a visual artist. Though I haven’t sketched much in the last twenty years, I kept the desk. I like it partly because I can spread out, but mostly because there’s space for two cat beds. Having one or both of my feline companions curled up within arm’s reach is, without doubt, my favorite thing about my current home office.

But the new place doesn’t have space for this mammoth piece of furniture. So, I find myself in need of a new arrangement and – very likely – a new desk. I began my online research earlier this week when I should have been nose-to-grindstone on a deadline. All I did was an innocent search for “computer desk,” but – whoa! – talk about going down the rabbit hole. There are SO many different styles, materials, sizes, configurations, features, brand names … the list of variables goes on and on (… and on!).

I’ve been looking at corner desks, L-shaped desks that just might tuck into a corner, desks with hutches, hutches with hidden desks inside, and every other possible solution. It’s not that I need a great, new desk. My first nine months as a freelancer my “office” was my lap and  a ratty chair that I picked up off the curb.  Still, a new desk would be nice. I spend so much time at my desk, it might as well be something beautiful, right?

Though the options are mind boggling and many of the prices intimidating, I’m determined to find something I love. I may find it on Craig’s List. I may create my own, one-of-a-kind set up by combining flea market finds. Either way, I’m definitely going to invest in a really nice chair and a keyboard tray. Good ergonomics are key.

I’m curious to hear about other writers’ home offices. We wrote about our writing desks last spring in the Friday Fun, What does your writing desk look like? But, what about you guys? Do you have a home office? What’s your set-up like? What’s your dream situation?

What I’m Writing:

artscopeSo, with our move just around the corner and deadlines looming on all sides, I did what any red-blooded writer would do when a new editor called with a trial assignment. I said, “Yes.” Though I am ridiculously busy and stressed (just ask my friends and family), when the editor of a regional art magazine called with a small, event-related assignment, I decided that I would just make it work. And, I did.

Though the piece was short (600 words), I really enjoyed the opportunity to interview a couple of gallery owners and then put the story together so that it covered the event, represented the two galleries (with quotes), and also provided a bit of a travelogue flavor. These are all writing skills that I don’t use on a regular basis with either my marcom (marketing and communications) or column writing, so I was happy to have an excuse to flex these little-used creative muscles.

 

What I’m Reading:


As you can imagine, reading time is scarce this week and will be next week as well. Though I miss my reading time, I’m not beating myself up over being too busy to curl up with a book. There will be time for that after we’ve settled in our new place. For now, I’m looking forward to listening to my audio books this weekend while I’m purging, packing, and cleaning.  I’m almost halfway through Life After Life: A Novel (affiliate link) by Kate Atkinson.

I’m still not quite sure how to describe this book. I was telling a friend how even though I’m halfway through, there have been long stretches of the story where nothing much is happening. The funny thing is, I don’t mind. I enjoy the language (and narrator performance) so much that any lag in the story isn’t really affecting my appreciation of the work. And the concept is so interesting (not to mention the story structure).

 

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

So … not so much a quote as an image. I found this on Pinterest, and loved it. I wish there was any attribution tied to the piece, but I couldn’t find any, not even via a Google image search. Anyway, this is pretty much how I feel – like I want to hide away with all my books and just get myself lost in a good story.

pin book hideout

Since I’ll be moving next Saturday, I am going to (grudgingly) give myself the week off. SO – next Saturday there will be no weekend edition. I’ll miss you guys, but I’ll be back on May 3rd. Until then, keep writing & keep reading! 
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

47 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – The Writer’s Home Office plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

  1. My writing desk is a white plastic fold up table stuffed in the corner of a dim lit man cave. I also have a laptop. My ideal situation would be a clean house, no laundry, no cooking, an occupied other half, content relatives, and a sleeping cat along with a day off from paycheck job.

    Give me a rock, I’ll make it work as a writing space. It is what surrounds my space that needs to be spiffy. 😉

    • I love your description of your perfect writing space. Forget the type of desk and focus on creating the mental space by getting rid of any possible distractions or guilt. Wise approach to the problem. 🙂

      And thank goodness for our laptops, right? They mean we can make ANYwhere our office.

  2. I have a huge Swedish desk from early 20th century that I have used for two decades. I love it because I can have the monitor from the desktop right behind/above the laptop so I can watch stuff while working/writing at times. I sitll have enough room for a kitty to be curled up on the right (I just need a new kitty in the near future) and notebooks on the left. I like having tons of shelves and things on the wall around to boost creativity.

    Good luck with finding a new desk and good luck with the move! I hope it goes well. 🙂

    I’ve been reading a lot over the past week. Finished Women’s bodies, women’s wisdom by Christiane Northrup and loved it to pieces. I also read So long insecurity, you’ve been a bad friend to us by Beth Moore and started another book since then. I’ve taken a break from the academic writing as the bad burnout I had felt was confirmed by my doctor due to my level of stress, so I’m taking it easy until another medical appointment in early May. Knowing the burnout wasn’t just in my head helped a lot though.

    • Your desk sounds wonderful. Always important to have room for a cat. I hope you find a new one soon.

      Thanks for the good moving wishes. 🙂
      And you feel better and recover from the burn out. Enjoy some recreational reading & chilling out.

      “See” you soon!

  3. My home office right now is my lap. I do havd a desk that I will sit at, on occasion, but I always have to drag a chair from the kitchen over and it doesn’t fit under the desk (it’s a small childs desk). I keep day dreaming of a new desk too! And storage. I would share my “office” with the kids play room so it needs to be functional for both jobs.

    • As I mentioned in the post, I also used my lap as a desk for quite a long time. While I didn’t mind doing that for the short term, I have realized the importance of an ergonomically correct writing set up. If I’m going to keep at this for years to come, I’d better get myself a healthy set-up or risk twisting my body into some unimaginable kinks. 😉

      Good luck finding your perfect set up and a good sharing approach with the kids.

  4. It took awhile to find the perfect desk – and when I finally spotted it – it was love at first sight! I searched Craigslist, garage sales, furniture places and all the Depot stores – I ended up with an Office Depot desk. The price was right and the desk was perfect. It’s a corner piece with a file drawer, open cabinet space and deep top for writer’s arm-resting. I hope you find the desk of your dreams – a ‘likeable/workable’ space is so very important to one’s sanity…
    AnnMarie
    Have a wonderful weekend 🙂
    ps I too, have a giant drafting table which I adore – but I redid my studio space and it didn’t quite fit in – so now my husband uses it in his workroom – he loves it as mush as I 🙂

    • That sounds lovely, AnnMarie.
      I know I’ll find the just right thing and I’m not going to rush it. I may jury rig something for the short term and just wait to find my true love. I have a feeling it may be something I can close up (like a hutch of some kind) just so that I can shut my work stuff away when I want to. I think that’s a healthy goal to have for someone who works from home. 😉

      Glad your drafting table found a new home!

      • One of my all time favorite singers, Harry Nilsson has a great song about his, Good Old Desk – truly a good old desk can be quite inspiring 🙂
        AnnMarie
        Best of Luck to you and Happy Weekend!

  5. I’ve got a computer hutch with two doors that open fully to reveal my computer and a pull out keyboard ledge and this table that folds down like an ironing board…. The idea (the IDEA) is to be able to close up the table and close the doors on the hutch to hide my work area when I’m not writing. But, um, too many inspirational pieces and projects-in-progress hold down the table…I haven’t closed it in over a year…

    • This made me laugh. Having just commented above that I’m thinking I may get something I can close up, and then reading your note … well … probably would be my reality as well. 😉

      That said, I’ll never be sorry for having inspiration and projects galore. That’s a Good Thing!

      Enjoy!

  6. I’m also about to move and am worrying like mad about finding ‘the one’. Currently I’m set up at the dining table which is fine during the day but not ideal when you have to pack everything up to eat dinner. But like you I have faith the right piece will come along and fit into a convenient book! Good luck with the move.

    • ” You gotta have faith.” – George Michael, 1987
      😉

      The right one will come along. I’m going to try to lighten up my search and rely more on serendipity.

      Good luck in your hunt and with your move! We’ll have to compare notes.

  7. Jamie, I’m like you. I love moving. I haven’t done it for a while, and I have a lot of extra stuff. Maybe it’s time to have a big garage sale. Desks sounds like…work. I sit in a chair in the living room, or spread out on a sofa. Or the kitchen table.

    Twitter sounds like it is starting to grow up. Maybe I will think about joining. But, I’m kind of introverted, and it is hard.

    Silent

    • Hello, Silent.
      Interesting thought – a desk making you feel like what you’re doing is work (vs. a chair or sofa feeling less like work). I hadn’t thought of that. I guess I gravitate towards a desk mostly for utilitarian reasons – a proper sitting position, everything at hand, that sort of thing. I’m definitely trying to “think outside the box” on this one, though. To your point, I don’t want it to feel like a “work space” – I want it to feel like a CREATIVE space! 🙂 I guess what I’m after is not so much the home office as the artist’s studio. Hmmm … I like this train of thought. Thanks for starting me off in a great, new direction!

      • Yikes. Don’t do what I do. I have terrible posture. I’ve never seen a chair I couldn’t dangle my legs over, or a desk I couldn’t put my feet on if I’m wearing jeans.

        You will have so much fun creating a place because you’ve been working and writing, and now you know just what you need.

        Besides, where are those kitties going to sleep?

        Silent

      • It WILL be fun. Thanks for reminding me of that.
        And – don’t worry – the kitties will definitely have their spots! 🙂

    • Hello, Bailey! How nice to meet you. I have never met a boat cat and am very pleased to make your acquaintance.

      I know what your human means about being able to leave everything laid out. When I’m in the middle of a project, I love being able to keep everything out and accessible for the duration. Makes it easier to jumpstart my writing day when everything’s already there and ready to go.

      I’d like to thank you for dropping a note today because you have helped me to feel much better about another very important aspect of our move. You see, the happiness of the two kitties you see in the photo above is very important and has been a serious matter of consideration as we looked for a new place to live. I had to make sure there were enough sunny spots, good windows, and some nooks and crannies for hiding and lounging. I’ve been a little nervous about how they will adjust, but seeing you in your video book trailer has convinced me that I don’t have a thing to worry about. If you can be that happy aboard a boat (even swimming!), I can’t imagine my kitties will be anything but blissful about our new abode.

      Thanks for reminding me that cats are amazingly adaptable. I wish you the best on your journeys and look forward to seeing what you’re up to next!

      🙂

  8. That is a great image, the light from the window is just right, not to mention all those books. It doesn’t matter so much where you write, but surround yourself with things that make you smile. Happy moving!

    • You’re so right, Patti. It’s all about creating a happy place. 🙂
      That’s what I’m focusing on right now, and it feels really “fun” and inspiring.
      TKS for the happy moving wishes!

  9. I’m a fan of the plain, table style of writing desk. I don’t like having cabinets attached because I had when my legs feel cramped. And I like the plain top because they I can have plenty of room for books and notes in addition to my laptop!

    • I’m leaning in the “table style” direction, too, Michelle. I thought I wanted a cabinet, but then I realized that I’d have to be staring at the back of the cabinet all the time. That would be silly, especially given that I have a beautiful view out the window. It’s coming together – bit by bit. 🙂

  10. My writing desk is an old kitchen table that I spray painted black and purple. It is smaller than the dinning room table that I used to use, but still big enough for me to spread out one either when I am writing or when I am grading papers. My office has a window for the cats to relax in and plenty of light if I want it. It used to be my dinning room, but it gets more use this way.

    • I am completely on board with turning a dining room into a writing room. We use our current dining room so infrequently, it’s kind of wasted space. Happily, in the new place, the living area is a very open concept design, so we’ll definitely use the dining room table more. But I love the idea of repurposing a “kitchen” table as a “writing” table … after all, a table is a table, right? I think I’ll expand my search outside the “office” category. TKS!

  11. Great post! You’ve definitely given me some inspiration for my own blog and this link: Are You Really a Writer, or Just a Copyist? by @RaubiMarie via @Copyblogger was truly eye-opening. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • I really liked that post, too, Pamela. Reminded me of the writer I really am (and need to continue to be) both on the fiction/creative and the marcom side of things. Loved the definitions. 🙂

  12. I love my office, love, love love it 🙂 It is one room of a studio, a stone’s throw from our house. It has a solid pine desk that was my mother’s, a white laptop, good wifi – a yoga mat in a corner, a comfy armchair in another corner, beautiful art and images on the wall and little piles of crystals. One view is to the south west across a daisy bush, paddocks to mountains. Another view is of the overgrown garden, home to many little birds. It is my sacred space. Can I also thank you for sharing the article “Are you a writer or a copyist?” I read it twice and shared it everywhere, because it answered so many questions that i didn’t even know I was asking. The problem with my job, is that I have been hired as a copyist, when really I am an author. And my soul was keening. Now I know why!

    • Your creative corner sounds wonderful, Sara! What a joy to be in a place that you love so much.
      And I’m so glad you also enjoyed the writer vs. copyist post. That seems to have struck home for many (including me!) and I’m happy to have been able to share it.
      Here’s to setting your inner author free!

  13. Moving is so wonderful and stressful. Best of luck to you. I don’t have a set place to write (usually the kitchen table or my couch depending on the proximity I want to have to the tv).

  14. My winter office is a spare bedroom – small but cozy. The puppy’s kennel is in there and he sometimes takes a nap while I work. Usually, he begs for attention. We are working on that one. I have a very old metal desk that was given to us. It works nicely. My summer office is our sunroom. I watch the birds at the feeder and the puppy is too busy to interrupt. I have a table and a lamp for working at night.

    • Those all sound like good spots for writing … and any spot is a good spot with a puppy close at hand! 😉

  15. I write at the kitchen table *sigh* with a bowl of fruit which I try to fill with citrus (oranges mostly) because I believe in the power of smell. That said I wish I had my own office space as I get interrupted far too many times by troops of foraging teenagers. I wish you a smooth move and many happy years in your new home 🙂

    • Thanks for the “smooth move” wishes. 🙂
      Though I currently have an office space, it’s smack in the middle of the house and not private, so I get what you mean about the interruptions. I only have the one ten year-old to manage, but sometimes she feels like a hoard of teenagers!

      The new place will be a similar situation, though I’ll be able to retreat to a 3rd floor room in dire emergency. Mostly, though, I’ll continue to work from our main living space and trying like hell to be productive even when there’s all kinds of hell breaking loose around me. 😉

    • It is a very unique story structure. I’m about halfway through. Very curious as to how it will end, but just enjoying the language along the way. I wonder if any other books have been written in this style. Will have to investigate that.

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