Confession time. I like easy. I get super-annoyed when normal, everyday things turn out to be harder than they should be. Like unscrewing the cap on a jar of pasta sauce. Making dishes fit neatly into cupboards. Finding a hammer and the right-size nail when I need to hang a picture.
And the absolute worst? Unsolvable Sudoku puzzles.
This isn’t to say I don’t like challenges, because I do. Whether around the house or writing a novel, I take great satisfaction in finding innovative ways to solve problems.
But when it comes to the day-to-day work of writing, I prefer to be surrounded not only with whatever will keep me motivated and inspired but especially with the necessary writing tools plus anything I may need for quick reference. I don’t want the time-wasting inconvenience of moving my laptop onto my footstool, prying myself out of my comfy Ikea chair, and scrounging around my “real” desk or office bookshelves for what I’m looking for.
That’s why everything of importance is kept on a chair-side table, in a nearby small bookcase, or on one of two bulletin boards, all within easy reach or sight distance.
Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find there:
Bulletin board #1:
- The Writer’s Prayer, by Debby Giusti
- My personal list of 5 impossible goals jotted down after hearing Debbie Macomber speak at a conference
- A list of Virtue-Vice Pairs from The Moral Premise, by Stan Williams
- Favorite reminders from a workshop by James Scott Bell
- Literary device examples from a Margie Lawson class
- Favorite photos of me with my awesome agent, Natasha Kern
- Seeker photos, including a funny snapshot with Seekers at the 2014 Harlequin party
- Photos of the grandkids
- A photo strip of hubby and me in one of those booths where you have four chances to make goofy faces at the camera
Bulletin board #2:
- Large monthly calendar with big numbers (preferably open to the current month, if I haven’t forgotten to turn the page)
- Inspirational/motivational quotes
- Photos of the 2005 RWA Fab Four Golden Girls—Inspy finalists Janet Dean, Julie Lessman, Tina Radcliffe, and moi. :)
- My high school sweater letter & pins (yes, I lettered in Literary!)
- Every single name badge lanyard from every single major conference ever attended
Some of these items might seem just plain silly, right? But they remind me I’m a writer. And not just a writer but someone with cherished family and friends. I’m not alone in this biz.
On my side table:
- Mug filled with pens, pencils, and lip balm (because it’s hard to be creative when you have chapped lips)
- Legal pad and small notepads for when I need to jot down something quickly
- Electric cup warmer because cold tea or coffee is just bleh!
- Stash of paperclips (why, I have no idea)
- Box of tissues
- Tumbler of water with a dash of lemon essential oil
- Tabletop book rack with dictionaries, thesauruses (thesauri?), and my favorite character-naming resource
- The Writer’s Brainstorming Kit
- Cloth for cleaning my computer screen
- Earbuds in case I need to unobtrusively listen to something on my computer or iPhone
On my small bookshelf:
- More name books
- My stash of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms (close, but not too close)
- Any research books pertaining to my wip
- My bookmarked and highlighted copy of The Moral Premise
- Chicago Manual of Style and other grammar reference books
- Study Bible
- Latest issues of Romance Writers Report and other professional publications
Lest you think I have lazily arranged everything so I never have to leave my chair, I use the Pomodoro One app on my Mac to remind me to get up and moving. (Google “Pomodoro for PC” to find non-Mac options). I find Pomodoro’s standard 25/5-minute countdowns a little too stringent for my work habits, so I set my timer for a 6-minute break every 35 minutes. With a variety of hand weights to choose from, a weighted hula hoop, and my treadmill just in the next room, I’ll walk or use the hula hoop for 5 minutes or do a few weight reps, crunches, and/or stretches. Five minutes at a time? Makes exercise much more palatable!
The whole idea is to make it as easy as possible to get—and stay—productive. With all my favorite tools for work and inspiration gathered around me, I eliminate excuses (well, mostly) and set myself up for success.
What do you absolutely need to have within arm’s reach so you can keep writing? What are your favorite things to have nearby for motivation and/or inspiration? As we begin the new year, does your writing space need rearranging? Reorganizing? Maybe a complete makeover for 2016? Let’s talk about it!
And . . . if you need a little help getting your writing space organized, let me know in the comments if you’d like to be entered in the drawing for today’s giveaway, a handy-dandy caddy for your desk supplies!
Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Myra's latest releases are Rancher for the Holidays (Love Inspired) and The Sweetest Rain (Franciscan Media). She's a two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards, and her Heartsong Presents romance Autumn Rains (November 2009) won RWA’s 2005 Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript. Myra and her husband are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters who, along with their godly husbands, have huge hearts for ministry. Seven grandchildren take up another big chunk of Myra’s heart. Originally from Texas, the Johnsons moved to the Carolinas in 2011. They love the climate and scenery, but they may never get used to the pulled pork Carolinians call “barbecue”! The Johnsons share their home with two very pampered doggies who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.”