Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Write at My Fingertips

Myra Johnson
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.”


Marianne Barkman said...

That's so cool, Myra. As a reader, some of those things would apply but I think I'm just too lazy. I just want a book and coffee. And I remember to get up and move when my cup I sinned of a refill. So here's coffee. And donuts to munch on!

Trixi said...

I have my desk (somewhat) organized. I have a set of 4 drawers with all my necessary "junk", a desk flip calendar with a scripture for everyday, mousepad and a few scripture odds & ends. It occasionally gets cluttered with don't-know-what-to-do-with-it papers and things. Oh and scrap paper or post-it notes galore...lol!! One can never have enough of that, especially if you have to remember something...haha! I'm a huge list writer, that's what helps keep me organized :-)
I'm also surrounded by a bookshelf full of some wonderful authors, a few of them being Seekerville, of course! I love looking at all the beautiful spines & knowing I have some great reads waiting for me :-)
Thanks for sharing your writer space Myra! I love to envision what you authors surround yourselves with as you write your stories.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, my gosh I loved this peek.

Mine looks just like yours except mine looks like an explosion rocked the room.

I have two bulletin boards, my LED tree, side rolling wire storage bin with all my supplies and notebooks, chalk board calendar...um, in fact I just counted my calendars SIX, hand lotion, vitamins, Giulietta bobblehed, water, analog clock.


We are so alike and yet, so different.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Okay that should read GIULIETTA Bobblehead. It came from Verona. Like you know, Romeo and Juliette.

Here's a web picture.

Giulietta Bobblehead

Mary Preston said...

Count me in thank you. I love how organised you are.

Jill Weatherholt said...

I love this post, Myra. Not that I'm a peeper or anything, but I love to see writers writing spaces. Yours looks very much like mine. I have three inspiration boards, as well as two story boards. Three books kept in arms reach are: The Emotion Thesaurus, The Negative Trait Thesaurus, and the Positive Trait Thesaurus. You can throw my name in for the handy dandy caddy.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

This is charming and organized, and I do not aspire to that because we've seen my office...

But I understand that we're all different, and I've gotten good at hauling out Mr. Laptop and put him to work in some very odd situations, including hotel lobbies at 4:00 AM in my jammies and a sweatshirt.... and cruise ship dining rooms at 4:00 AM...

Jill would not like to see my writing place, it's a cozy recliner near the woodstove, and has nothing writerly anywhere near it, but it is WARM and in upstate in January, I love being warm!

I can't remember which author taught me to steel myself to learn to write anywhere... I think it was Karen White, and I took it to heart because with six kids, my life is often tugged in multiple directions.

Zach understood that. (Lawyer boy in Manhattan) He bought me my first laptop because he knew I was concerned about keeping my daily writing up no matter what. I'd been so sure I'd never use/want a laptop.

Wrong again! Now laptop and his friend, Ms. Laptop (they share a room) afford me the opportunity to write anywhere, and that was my goal.

But then I see how organized Myra is, and how stinkin' cute this all is and I figure I missed an organizational author gene along the way.

But I did bring fresh coffee!!!!!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Myra! Unsolvable Sudoku puzzles? Aren't they ALL unsolvable? :)

Love seeing your workspaces! My desk is tucked in a corner of a 7-8 ft wide space and I have a big window on one side, so no bulletin boards. But on a nearby wall I have a monthly calendar and within reach is my Webster's, rolodex, timer and a mug of pens/pencils/scissors. Also have a several framed inspirational quotes (one thanks to Julie & her artist hubby!), a framed cover of my first book and my framed "one word" for this year. I usually have my latest character "wanted poster" taped to the window ledge where I can easily refer to it, too. There's a 2-drawer lateral file cabinet behind me with a bookcase on top. So pretty minimal as there's not a lot of room.

NO WAY would I be able to keep bulletin boards as neat as yours!!! I'm in awe! And like Tina, my workspace most often looks like there's been an explosion or a robber ransacked it looking for valuables--and found none!

Jackie said...

Hi Myra,

Thanks for inviting us into your office space. I worked on my space yesterday, and it was nicer to walk into the room this morning, but I still need help. I'd love to be in the drawing, and now I'm thinking I need a second bulletin board.

I do have a 31 wall hanger that's helpful.

Love your pictures and thanks for the encouragement to keep trying to get better organized.

Have a great day!

Dora Hiers said...

I think you need to slide those M&M's a little closer. :)

Rose said...

I'm like Ruthy (GASP...Pooor Ruthy). I learned to write anywhere. I use a Microsoft Surface. It is so light weight I can take it anywhere. I write in the car while my husband drives, at my desk, in an easy chair, in a coffee shop, in the busy, nosey student center at the University where I work. Usually, all I have with me is my story notes or synopsis.

Wilani Wahl said...

I am currently living in my brother's basement. I don't have a desk where I can write or even a table to eat on. I usually sit on the couch with the office chair to one side where the laptop resides when it is not on my lap. On the other side is a TV tray to hold my beverages, pens etc. On the couch on both sides of me are scattered pieces of paper or resource books, my phone, kindle and print books I am currently reading. Scattered on the floor around me are the notebooks containing the hard copies of my works in progress. My brother has been suggesting that while they are all at work, I should come upstairs to be able to see out and watch the Big TV. Now that my niece has gone back to college I plan to take him up on that although it is a challenge to move everything back and forth.

Please include me in the drawing for the organizer caddy.

Wilani Wahl said...

Last night I had the craziest dreams. In one I was dreaming about the book I had been reading. When I woke up I had the sensation that I had fallen asleep while reading so tried to pick up my kindle that I thought must be on my stomach. Only it wasn't there. In all reality it was plugged in and charging and was on my bed next to my pillow where it usually resides at night.

Since my normal night time pattern is to read until 1 am. Then I sleep for an hour or two, wake up go back to sleep for another hour or two, repeating the cycle. On the second dream I was sitting in a classroom with all the seeker villagers. We were working on contest entries. Tina looked over my shoulder and decided I was in need of lots of help, so she began to teach me the fine points of writing trying to get me caught up with all the others.

Just thought I would share my crazy dreams with you.

J Baugh said...

Thank you for the post. Trying to get more organized, so please enter me in the drawing. :)

Tracey Hagwood said...

Maybe I'm a writer and don't realize it, lol, my office looks vaguely similar. I have two bulletin boards above my desk like Myra, but mine's full of verses/inspirational quotes I've printed from pinterest, a couple of FULL bookcases, and a pair of recliners I just put in this past fall for reading. Men have their caves, my sis has taken to calling mine the "ladies lounge".

Myra Johnson said...

Good morning, Seekerville! As usual, I'm still getting myself organized--HA--for the day. Love reading everyone's workspace descriptions, even RUTHY's "non-space"!

Back shortly to respond more personally to each of you. Need another cup of Earl Grey first to jumpstart my brain. ;)

Tracey Hagwood said...

I'm glad you explained Giulietta. I'd already written the word down to look it up. Looks kind of like an Oscar with the gold. She can be the writers equivalent, so get ready to take a bow and have your acceptance speech ready :)

Mary Connealy said...

Myra all that stuff looks so artists when you do it.
I'm staring at my desk and not seein' the art!

Myra Johnson said...

Back again, and sort of more awake. And dressed. A minor miracle.

MARIANNE, thanks for the donuts and coffee! For pleasure reading, I don't need much either. A comfy chair, a good reading lamp, and a cup of tea (winter) or iced drink (summer). And I cannot wait for it to get warm enough outside to try out my new hammock hubby got me for Christmas!

Cindy Regnier said...

Oh Myra - great post and I could really use that desk thingamajig to put all my stuff in - or two or three of them. This is going to sound so wimpy but since I'm among friends here - my most important tool is my, um, blanket. Its one of those fleece kind with Christmas poinsettias on it, but I use it all year and I can't write a word without it, even in the heat of summer. OK, now that you know my deepest darkest secret I suppose I could share the rest of this picture. Some of my best writing is done, not at my writing desk, but sitting in my recliner with my feet up, snuggled in my blankey and with a purring cat on my lap. So I guess you won't be seeing any pictures of my favorite writing spot, but I sure did enjoy yours. Thanks Myra!

Myra Johnson said...

TRIXI, I should probably mention that I cleaned up my writing space a wee bit before snapping those pictures!

I also left out one very important item I need at my fingertips: A WORKING INTERNET CONNECTION! I can be disciplined and focused when I need to be, but I like knowing my connection to the world is always ready and waiting.

Myra Johnson said...

TINA, see comment above about cleaning up my space pre-photographs! And I have a whole closet full of files, mailing supplies, different-size labels, assortment of paper types, and back issues of writing publications.

And what is it with saving all those lanyards, huh? Are we crazy, or what?

Myra Johnson said...

MARY PRESTON, you're in! Here's to better organization in 2016!

Myra Johnson said...

JILL, I have the Emotion Thesaurus in my Kindle (which I can read on my computer). Tell us more about those other two references. Sounds interesting!

Myra Johnson said...

Only you, RUTHY--4:00 a.m.???? I am snoozing away in dreamland at 4:00 a.m.!!!!

I do sometimes take my laptop out to the screen porch when the weather's nice. But even then, I need my tall tumbler with a cool drink, the phone nearby so I don't have to get up if it rings and hubby's not home, and my comfy porch lounge.

Myra Johnson said...

GLYNNA, I do those puzzles every morning for the sole purpose of waking up my brain. Sudoku, crossword, Jumble, etc.

I need a window, too. I face my Ikea chair toward the window overlooking the backyard. It's on the second story, so I'm looking out at rooftops and treetops and can watch the birds and squirrels cavorting. (Don't you just love the word cavorting?)

Myra Johnson said...

Yay, JACKIE, for starting right in on organizing! I love bulletin boards because I can change or add to what's up there anytime the mood strikes.

Myra Johnson said...

Sorry, DORA, but I do need a little distance between me and temptation. And I'm so good that when I do grab a handful, I take 5 out of the container, shut the lid, and set it right back on the shelf. And only one handful a day.

Myra Johnson said...

ROSE, I envy you for being able to write in the car. I'm always too preoccupied watching the scenery and daydreaming.

Myra Johnson said...

WILANI, it sounds like you have everything right where you need it. I'd have a hard time, too, moving upstairs and back down with all the stuff I like having close by. These gals who can write anywhere . . . I've never trained myself to do that. Which is probably not a good thing for me in the long run.

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, and your dream, WILANI! We should all be so blessed to have TINA help us with our manuscripts!

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for stopping in, J BAUGH! Your name's in the hat!

Myra Johnson said...

Ladies' lounge--love it, TRACEY!!! Your little nest sounds cozy and inviting!

Myra Johnson said...

Art??? MARY, are you kidding??? It's organized clutter!!!

Myra Johnson said...

CINDY R, I love that you shared your pretty blanky with us!!! Really, whatever gets the inspiration flowing--that's all we need. And the kitty? The perfect addition!

Just Commonly said...

Myra, love your desk and especially what you have surrounded yourself when you write! For work, I also must have my references by me in a bookcase and material samples on the current project near me.

As a reader, I get comfy with a mug/cup with a lid (that's a must due to some accidents in the past) of something I feel like drinking. There's also little tabs I keep handy or if I don't, my phone to take pics of the area I want to note from the book I'm reading to refer to later on, and a comfy throw and pillow. That's basically what I need along with my book, sitting on a desirable spot.

I already have a similar organizer, so no need to enter me in the giveaway. Thanks!

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, JUST COMMONLY! I forgot to mention I keep my cellphone close by, too. It really is so handy for snapping pix of something I don't want to lose track of. Or even when I'm out shopping or running errands. If I see something I want to remember, or to compare with something else, or to show a family member later, I just whip out my phone and snap a picture.

Jeanne T said...

What a fun post, Myra. I love how you have your resources, but also those things that encourage you nearby for your eyes to fall upon when you need them. :)

For me, I love working at our kitchen table, when the family is gone. I can keep it cleared off enough to not be a distraction (I just don't always look at the counters!). I keep coffee or tea, as well as water nearby. And, when I need a snack, they are also nearby. :) I work in my project/writing room, but right now, it's full of stuff, so it feels inhibiting. :)

Jeanne T said...

Oh, and I forgot. I love to have scented candles burning in the kitchen and at the table to set ambiance for me. :)

Myra Johnson said...

Well, folks, I need to step out for a bit for an appointment. I'll return shortly after lunch and catch up with everyone then. In the meantime, please continue chatting about your workspaces or reading nooks and how you stay productive.

And don't forget to mention if you'd like to be entered in the drawing for the desk caddy!

Enjoy some tea and scones from the refreshment table!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

She dusts.

And she remembers her cell phone.

Myra, my children would trade me in for you in a heartbeat!!!!

Why do I always forget my cell phone? Is it passive aggressive????

It COULD BE!!!!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jeanne, I like the candles, too. It creates an ambiance and they have NO CALORIES. For us who sit in our jobs, no calories rocks!

I seriously need the laptop and coffee.

And when I hit 1K, I stop and do a ten minute exercise, because bodies in motion tend to stay in motion.

But that's it.

I consider feeding the chickens, gathering eggs, toting wheel barrows filled with egg layer grain to be exercise. :)

Don't burst my bubble, please.

Sandra Leesmith said...

I think you forget your cell phone on purpose. Ruthy, I say that because I do and I so understand why. haha

Sandra Leesmith said...

Great post Myra, You are so organized. I love it. I don't have as much stuff lying around as I would like because there just isn't that much space in the motorhome. I mean hubby needs somewhere to put his stuff. LOL I pretty much take up all available space, but it isn't much.

And it isn't neat either. Sigh. Which is why we invite someone over about once a week. Really motivates us to straighten up the mess. (Laughing again)

Used to be hung up on being organized until I read an article stating the most creative people have messy offices. I embraced that article.

But being organized does save a lot of time from getting up and getting out of your story. Unfortunately I do have that problem.

Thanks for sharing Myra and inspiring us to be better organized.

Kathryn Barker said...

Awww....tea and scones...my favorite morning culinary delights! I'm always fascinated with organization and Myra your writing space looks amazing!

I have an office...but it's also a guest room, grandchildren playroom, craft room, library with overflowing bookshelves and the storage room for photos that one day I'm gonna sort and put into albums, or at least, throw 'em into those cute little storage boxes!

I'm more of the write anywhere laptop peep! Although, I've never been as brave as Ruthy...leaving my hotel room in my jammies to write in a hotel lobby! (I can't leave my hotel room or my house without makeup let alone wearing pj's--my Momma's from the South!)

I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments about where they write!! Fun!! Have a Tea-riffic Tuesday!!

kaybee said...

RUTHY, I forget my cell phone too. Or lose it. Or forget to turn it on. That is why I don't want a Smartphone. Too much to lose.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Kaybee the smart phone has an app so you can find it when you lose it.


kaybee said...

MYRA, I love your workspace. I love the idea of surrounding myself with Favorite Things and inspiration.
Our main computer is in the living room and I share it with my husband, so there isn't a lot of room for me to personalize it. I also use it for my secular job, print journalism (I'm a newspaper weekly reporter), so there's a lot of detritus from that lying around, town budgets, selectmen's agendas etc. I have stacks of files in plastic containers and I try to keep them neat and nearby. I do some of my first draft on legal pads, so those are essential, and I edit by printing stuff out and going over it with red pens, so those are essential. Would love to have a dedicated space just for fiction writing, some day, and then I can personalize it.
I had my first rejection of 2016 yesterday, but it was from an agent I had contacted "cold," I saw her name in a magazine, so I don't feel too bad about it. Onward and upward.

Sharee Stover said...

Myra I loved the place where you keep your name badges from conferences. What a great idea. I too have writing references close by and inspirational/motivational quotes.

I wish my work space were better organized but at the moment, it's also my bedroom so I can't get too wild. :) I do have a great desk and chair and of course, light. My German Shepherd, Niko, visits me every hour to remind me that he wants to visit the outdoors so that helps me get up and moving throughout the day. Some days he even lays his head in my lap and says it's time to go out for recess to play ball.
It's only annoying when I'm deep in a scene. But he also provides a great audience when I need to read the story aloud to get perspective.

I keep food and water off my desk because it keeps me from nibbling throughout the day and I'm just enough of a klutz that I'd knock over the water.

My cellphone and calendar (yes I still use a paper version) stay right at my side along with my to do list since I have to write down everything before I forget it.

Mary Hicks said...

Myra, I really like your setup. I have to be organized before I do my best work. :-) ( or any work! )

Kav said...

Oh...I'm like Jill, I love getting a peek into the writing world of an author.

I need a stash of pens. There's nothing worse than running out of ink when you're in the thick of things. And -- sob -- that just happened to me now. Two pens out of ink and not a spare to be found and we're in the middle of a blizzard so I'm not venturing out. What's a writer to do? Sob!

The coolest thing I did to organize my writing space is upcycled an old wire dish rack as an organizer. It looks super cool. I use the dish area for keeping files folders and papers etc in order and the cutlery area is perfect for pens and post-it notes and things like that. Hmmm...I should post a picture on Facebook.

Tina Radcliffe said...

You should post a picture, Kav. BRILLIANT IDEA!!

Laura Conner Kestner said...

MYRA, thank you for sharing your organizational system with us - very inspiring! I'm going to check into those different thesauruses (or thesaurusi) that you mentioned.

I have many of the same items, but they don't look as put together as your's does. I don't have conference lanyards but I've kept all my old press credentials for when I covered special events (George Straight concert, inauguration of Texas Governor George W. Bush, etc.) and they hold a special place in my office - such fun memories. I only have one bulletin board, and it's covered with cartoons clipped from newspapers, pics of the kids and grandkids, a photo of two women walking by the Alamo in the 1930s, inspirational quotes, character's names and ages from my WIP, and an over-sized playing card (ace of hearts) with a picture of James Garner in the middle. Lol, seems weirder all written out than it does when I look at it each day.

TINA, love that Gulietta Bobblehead!

Missy Tippens said...

Myra, for a second there, I thought the prize was going to be you offering to come out and organize our space!! ;)

What a fun post to get a look into your office. Some of the things I have like yours are the lip balm, the drink with a straw (mine is Crystal Light tea usually), my paper calendar, and any research notes/books.

Barbara Scott said...

Myra, you are the queen of organization! My biggest bugaboo is clutter. Hate it. So at least my stacks are neat. About every six months, I go through all the paper and throw away stuff that I've never referred to even once...blog posts, articles, etc.

The first thing I do after a conference is throw my lanyard in the trash. Obviously, I'm not sentimental. I do need a large cork board though. Right now, my character pictures peek out at me from the edges of picture frames or the top of an "organizer."

My problem is, I have too many organizers. One for pens. One for paperclips. One for pads of Post-It notes. And one really cute ceramic moose whose antlers hold my business cards. He keeps me company through thick and thin. Oh, and I have a white board for keeping track of all my pending editing projects.

Your desk organizer might be just what I need! Then I can give all of mine to Goodwill. :)

Missy Tippens said...

I should add that the stuff I mentioned is near the couch where I usually work. If you go to my desk, it resembles what Tina described: an explosion. LOL!

Missy Tippens said...

Kav, what a great idea about using the dish rack!!

Barbara Scott said...

Oh, and I brought bagels and cream cheese from Panera's courtesy of my hubby who just got back from the dentist's office. Most people get a new toothbrush, sample toothpaste, and floss. Not Mike. The dentist gave him a bag of bagels and cream cheese. Uh, they kinda have a unique relationship.

DebH said...

I guess my writing space is my recliner in the living room, where I use my laptop. Except my laptop encountered a mishap and is essentially destroyed (although my hard drive is intact). I've been laptop-less for almost two months now. Been using a REALLY old beater computer (running windows XP) to connect to the internet and check emails, blogs and pay bills. One of these days my budget will allow it and I'll actually get around to replacing the laptop (but with a small desktop - I need the system upgrade flexibility because of my graphics programs).

I have a tablet that I could probably use for portable writing. My whole house is a train wreck that needs someone with the energy for organizing. It needs a big purge and I haven't the energy for that right now. *sigh*

I do so love getting a peek at writerly spaces, but I'm afraid my process trends towards how Ruthy works. I'm still working on giving myself permission to pursue writing because I still feel little Guppy and Hubby come first. I'm not gifted with multi-tasking skills.

I do always have 'Net access though, with Seekerville bookmarked for when I want to look up older posts when I looking for help with something. Oh, and Debby's writer's prayer is near my computer.

Missy Tippens said...

Deb, I'm sorry about your continued computer woes. My 2010 laptop (my only computer) keeps shutting off suddenly. I'm afraid this year may be a new laptop year.

Myra Johnson said...

Home again! Glad to see y'all have been busy chatting.

JEANNE, yes, it isn't just the "tools of the trade" but all those special little things that lift our spirits and inspire us. I used to have a scented candle on my desk. Not sure why I stopped lighting it. Must try that again.

Sarah Claucherty said...

Myra - great set-up! This year, I need to get organized. Would you mind sharing a list of your favorite writing resources with us? The ones you mentioned or others?

That desk caddy sounds like something I should consider using! Please toss my name in the caddy for the giveaway ;)

Myra Johnson said...

RUTHY, I only dust when I can write my name across the furniture. As for my cellphone, for the past several months I've been carrying it in my pocket or purse everywhere because it counts my steps in My Fitness Pal and lets me know how many exercise calories I get credit for. I have even been known to walk in circles around the house just to add up to another piece of chocolate!

Myra Johnson said...

SANDRA, I am totally into the "creative minds/messy offices" thing!!!! Seriously, I TOTALLY cleaned up my work area before taking those pictures! You should see my side table now--NOT!

Actually, my side table is a little filing cabinet. So it has a drawer where I can stick stuff I don't need as often.

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, KATHRYN! I would totally not be seen in a hotel lobby in my jammies either!!!

And don't get me started on photo albums. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing (probably mostly bad) that since the digital age took over, almost all my photos just sit on my computer hard drive (or somewhere out in the iCloud). If I had them all printed and put into albums, I'd have to buy a second house.

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, KB, I am so connected to my iPhone! I hardly ever actually talk on it, but I use it for email, Facebook, games, photos, and all kinds of other stuff.

Myra Johnson said...

KB, your workspace sounds well used! And sooooo sorry about the R. Those always hurt, no matter how prepared we are or how much we rationalize.

Sarah Claucherty said...

How creative, Kav!

Myra Johnson said...

SHAREE, I love that your doggy keeps you honest about getting up to move around regularly. Sometimes I think my dogs can actually tell time--or else their stomachs can. Around suppertime they both come and pester me until I give up and quit. And this is usually AFTER they've eaten because hubby has already fed them. But now they know it's time I shut things down for the day and pay attention to them.

Myra Johnson said...

MARY HICKS, I prefer to be organized before I sit down to work, too. However, sometimes waiting until I feel organized "enough" turns out to be an excuse to procrastinate. :-/

Sarah Claucherty said...

So I'm not the only one who fills her bulletin board with Bible verses and other inspirational whatnot!

Myra Johnson said...

KAV, do post a picture of your impromptu desk organizer! That sounds so clever! Wish I could send you a few of my pens. Between what hubby used to bring home from his work conferences, trade shows, etc., and what I've collected at writers conferences, we have quite an eclectic collection!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Deb, computer woes are a pain. I've killed so many, and I did the whole extra waitressing shift for months to save for the next one, and so on, so I hear you.

Honestly, though, if things had come easily to me I wouldn't appreciate them the way I do now. I'd be more laissez faire about the whole thing, and think (wrongly!) I did something to deserve it.

This way I've had some of those tough tests, and I was at that older point in my life where if I got tested??? I just kind of scowled at life and dared it to bring more.


But you sure do develop backbone!

And I want one of those Panera munchies!

Myra Johnson said...

LAURA, wow, you've got some impressive press creds, girlfriend! Aren't bulletin boards just the best invention ever for displaying favorite memories and reminders? Love the James Garner playing card--fun!

Myra Johnson said...

Um, no, MISSY. I have enough trouble keeping my own space organized. You're own your own, sweetie!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Panera's!!!! Barbara brought food!!!

Thank you!!!!

Myra Johnson said...

BARBARA, I'm glad no one can see the rest of my office--my cluttered stacking trays with stuff that needs to be pitched or filed, random old mugs with odd assortments of pens and pencils, a standing file rack overflowing with messy files . . .

Yes, like so many, I know exactly where to put my hands on what I need, but nobody else would be able to figure out my system.

Myra Johnson said...

And . . . seriously? Bagels and cream cheese from the dentist??? He must be trying to make sure he stays in business!

Myra Johnson said...

DEB H, so sorry about your laptop! And I agree--multitasking is not one of my strengths.

Isn't Debby's writer's prayer wonderful? Such great inspiration for what we're doing and why.

Myra Johnson said...

SARAH asked about my favorite writing resources. You can see my thesaurus and synonym finders in the photo. I like The Writer's Digest Character-Naming Sourcebook for finding interesting names. A favorite craft book is Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer. Also Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Browne and King.

Actually, I could fill an entire ceiling-high bookcase with the craft and research books I've collected over the years. Many of them I haven't cracked open in years but am too attached to to part with.

Meghan Carver said...

Myra, thank you for the sneak peek! I would never go into someone's medicine cabinet, but if I'm invited to look around, I will!

I've been working on going paperless, so that helps tremendously with the piles of paper. But I still have some post-it's, pretty pens, Debby's Writer's Prayer, and several reference books. Oh, and the lanyards! Definitely keeping those reminders of time well spent, learning and making new friends!

Janet Dean said...

Myra, fun to see where you write and what you must have within arm's reach. Not surprised by grammar resources. Love that you have the Golden Girls GH finalist photo.

It would be fun to do a post on all of our workspaces.

Most of the time I write at a desktop in my balcony office. I struggle with the small keys on the laptop so when I use it, I add a separate keyboard. The letters are missing from all my keyboards. I strike the keys too hard and rub off all the letters except for Q and Z. I must be a tense writer as a couple of keys are actually gouged. I get along fine, but our Internet guru and my dh are thrown by the missing letters.


Janet Dean said...

I, too, have Debby's prayer on my desk.

DebH, sorry about that laptop!


Myra Johnson said...

MEGHAN, going paperless seems like it should help, right? But then I have to remember what name I gave a file on my computer and which folder I stuck it in! Thank goodness for keyword searches!

I do like the convenience of having certain reference books in Kindle editions. I can highlight and bookmark passages or search for the exact topics I'm looking for.

Myra Johnson said...

LOL on the missing keyboard letters, JANET! If I don't keep my nails trimmed, I start wearing off letters, too.

And the photo collage of us from 2005 is a very special keepsake! Can you believe how far we've come? Just amazing!

Barbara Fox said...

It's a relief to know that other people keep certain things nearby in order to create their perfect writing atmosphere because I've been wondering about myself lately. I keep a group of perfectly sharpened pencils (must be ticonderoga #2) with white eraser caps, a BIC, and two Inkjoy pens to the right side of my computer so I can be sure to have the right tool when I need it. Recently I took a big leap and bought the new black ticonderoga pencils instead of the yellow. (It's funny- household members are less apt to borrow those)
Before Christmas I took a giant step totally emptying my office. It was no small job. I painted 3 walls pink and one dark grey. I reintroduce a group of tea pots, Painted Ponies and a small desk and added 1 picture of a leafless tree set against a pink sky. In the morning I can look out at gorgeous sunrises and I've noticed they look just about like the picture on my wall. God loves pink!

OK so then Christmas happened and room was required for the tree, extending the table, gifts, stockings etc and everything that wasn't Christmas-y was moved – into my office. sigh

Myra Johnson said...

BARBARA, your office sounds like a designer showroom--lovely! Sorry about the Christmas overflow, though! Isn't it interesting what personal items we get attached to, like certain kinds of pens and pencils? I have a special mug of gel pens and fine-point Sharpies I use strictly for doing the puzzles in the morning paper.

Julie Lessman said...


LOVE this, Myra, sooooo fun to get a tour of your writing space and VERY clever to put the Seeker page on the computer!!

The only exception I take to this besides the lip gloss is your space is WAY too neat!!!


Myra Johnson said...

Oh, JULIE, neatness is in the eye of the beholder. Like I said, just so glad no one can see my office right this minute!

Don't I get credit for lip balm??? Just not the glossy type, I guess!

Jeanne T said...

RUTHY, you made me smile. I'm so glad we have candles in common. If it makes you feel better, I set my timer for 55 minutes, and when it goes off I get my feet in motion for 10 minutes. I may be clearing away piles, walking to put things away, or just moving while I sort through papers, but my body is active. So yes, you have to move your feet to go feed the chickens, etc. Exercise? Check. ;)

Pam Hillman said...

Whoot! Love The Writer's Brainstorming Kit. I just used it last week. I don't always follow the cards... okay, I rarely do what the cards tell me to, but I rarely follow eeny-meeny-mine-moe either. Shrug.

Jeanne T said...

MYRA, I do the same thing with my phone! It goes in a pocket (or my hand, depending on what I'm wearing) to count my steps. And, as I mentioned to Ruthy, movement counts, right? Even if it's not on a treadmill. :)

Janet Dean said...

I'm impressed with the descriptions of all the work areas!

Kav, love the creative use of an old dish rack.

Wrapping up in a blanket just makes sense, Cindy R, especially with the cold temps we're having now.

Barbara R, my dh is protective of his favorite #2 Mirado Black Warrior pencils, but I'm not tempted. I write with a Vision gel ink pen with fine point and silver case. Period. My dh dislikes them. We are well suited. :-)


Myra Johnson said...

JEANNE, good for you for setting your timer and getting up to move around!

Actually, some days I need a timer to remind me to turn on my timer!

Myra Johnson said...

PAM, I've gotten really attached to my Brainstorming Kit. It's great for pushing my mind in directions I might not have come up with on my own. I use it when I'm starting to flesh out my characters and their goals/motivations, and then as I try to figure out where the plot will take them.

Myra Johnson said...

JEANNE, one day while out boutique shopping on a Sunday afternoon, I found a cute little "pocket" with a magnetic flap that loops over my waistband. I use it for my phone whenever I wear my yoga pants with no pockets.

Myra Johnson said...

Tell me more about your Vision gel pen, JANET. I always love to try out different kinds of pens. The feel has to be just right--in my hand and gliding across the paper.

Barbara Fox said...

Myra there's nothing designer show room about my office. I just needed sparse. I'm such an accumulator. I forgot to mention one thing thing that is always at hand (besides coffee) that would be my dog, Samba. She lets me know when I've been sitting too long.
I love that you keep your name badges.

Myra Johnson said...

The doggies are a fixture in my office, too, BARBARA! I can't help thinking, though, of the money I could save ACFW and RWA if they could recycle these lanyards, because really, they're just taking up space and I don't have the heart to throw out something so cleverly made. I'd be happy these organizations could recycle the lanyards and I could just save my ribbons and name tags as mementos.

Rhonda Starnes said...

Thanks for sharing, Myra! I loved seeing the things you keep close while writing. I wish I had an office space for writing. Maybe one day I'll finally talk Mountain Man into building me a small writer's cabin in the back yard, but for now I do all my writing in one of three places–the kitchen table, the living room couch, or occasionally in bed.

The things I keep close while writing are a couple of reference books, notepads and pens for brainstorming, and a cup of coffee or tea.

Myra Johnson said...

RHONDA, as empty-nesters for the past 20 years or so, we've always had a spare bedroom I can claim for my writing office. Before that, I set up a writing table along one side of our family room. Of course, it wasn't very conducive to writing except when hubby was at work and the kids were at school.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love that we're all different. I see some folks who need order around them, and others like me who block out chaos and lose themselves in the writing.

The best thing is that we all produce different kinds of stories that appeal to a wide-ranging audience.

How confined we would be to really be in a "stable" all working the same way.

We'd go bonkers.

Barbara Fox said...

Myra, I had to laugh about things being conducive to writing when your hubby went to work. Mine works at home and whenever he takes a break from his work he wanders around. He'll walk into my office and start talking or he'll come in to look around. He always seems startled when I mention that I'm working and am in the middle of something!

Sandy Smith said...

Very fun post, Myra. I love seeing how other authors work. I don't work in my office much at home because the desk is usually terribly messy. We always had a desktop computer, but when that needed replaced two years ago we decided it made more sense to go with a laptop. So now I can take it with me around the house, which I love. It is kind of a big laptop, so maybe not as convenient as some smaller ones. But I do have to have stuff nearby. I have a plastic storage container with a handle that I keep materials in for the novel I'm working on. It contains all the notebooks with any notes pertaining to the book, notecards, etc. For my short story writing, I have a divided notebook with sections for the different markets I aim for. Those aren't too hard to carry around with me.

I would love to win the organizer. Please enter me.

Myra Johnson said...

BARBARA, our husbands are clearly cut from the same cloth!!!! Mine is still in training even after all these years. I think he's slowly learning, though.

Myra Johnson said...

Cool, SANDY--a tote with all your necessary supplies! Must remember this for when "porch weather" returns.

Terri said...

Ok, I spent days revamping my study and I'm still not as organized as you. I never will be, but hey I can accept that.

I have a bulletin board with pictures of my characters, The Writer's Prayer is framed and on my desk, I have a white board for plotting, a calendar, and a shelf full of craft books.

Myra Johnson said...

Sounds like you're as organized as you need to be, TERRI!

Debby Giusti said...

I'm late. Book club is at my house tomorrow night so I've been grocery shopping--Sams, Fresh Market and Publix. Also cleaning and getting everything ready. Fixing dinner for 12 to 13. Should be a fun night.

I've been cleaning my office. Not finished yet. Why do I want a hard copy of everything? I'm swamped with paper. Your writing space looks peaceful and inviting. May I visit?

Smiling at the Writer's Prayer spotting. :)

Myra Johnson said...

Your book club does sound like fun, DEBBY! What's for dinner?

I agree--too many paper copies just get in the way.

Chill N said...

MYRA, seriously? You can eat five M&Ms and then stop? I am in awe of that kind of self-discipline!

Let's see ... what was the subject?

Fun to see your workspace and to read the posts about other workspaces and organizers (KAV the wire dish rack idea is great!). I need an organized, everything-in-its-place setting when I start writing. When I finish, well, that's another story :-)


Walt Mussell said...

I cannot believe you don't like sudoku. Sudoku is a blast.

Walt Mussell said...

Just kidding. I use sudoku to get my brain going when I need a break. It's addictive, though

bonton said...

Loved your post, Myra - thanks!!

The comments have given me a chuckle, ie: Tina's explosion comment. Afraid my desktop computer work area looks the same way (much seems to accumulate there), another living room area where I sit with a portable table, recliner, and laptop - usually looks somewhat better, although I do have to have necessary essentials nearby (too hard for my "creaky" stiff joints to continually get "up and down").

I do try to maintain some organization, an "on and off" basis, in my entire condo - although it's an organization that only I probably understand, lol. You'd think since I am retired, live alone, and not often have guests - I'd have more time for organization, however, it seems to be the opposite. Perhaps, I need some discipline classes from you?? Case in point: I could probably never eat just 5 M&M's - no matter how far away they were.

Please enter my name in the drawing for the desk organizer!! Thank you!!

CatMom said...

Loved this post, Myra! And the reason I'm a day behind in commenting is because yesterday was an "UNorganized" day for me, LOL. Not sure where the time went, but it went. Thanks for sharing this - - going to re-read and add to my keeper file.
Hugs, Patti Jo :)

Myra Johnson said...

NANCY, yes, when it comes to chocolate, I exercise extreme self-discipline. The trick is to eat each piece s-l-o-o-o-w-l-y and with awareness. Project Guy and I do the same with our Pound Plus dark chocolate from Trader Joe's. One square after lunch, one square after supper.

For medicinal purposes only, right????

Myra Johnson said...

WALT, I do enjoy Sudoku. Just not the killer ones that require what I consider guessing instead of logical process of elimination.

Myra Johnson said...

BONNIE, we do what we must, right? Anything to make our lives easier! And on the rare occasions when we have company, my office door gets shut. No sense letting the world know what it normally looks like on an average work day. ;-D

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, PATTI JO! I have too many days like yours to count--when I stay busy all day but tomorrow won't be able to tell you exactly what I did. Life happens, and tomorrow, as Scarlett would say, is another day. Carry on!

Deanna Stevens said...

Love how you organize & get a break.. I'm a reader/reviewer but my desk is messy with note pads, sticky notes, pens & the book stack to review! I really need organization! please drop me into the drawing for that nifty basket.. I thank you for the push I needed today!

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, DEANNA! Glad to serve as your organizational inspiration and added your name to the hat!