Reclaiming your writer’s space

In my last post, I shared how my normally sunny outlook had taken a detour to the pooper. Since then, I’ve been hard at work bouncing back.

Staring with my writing environment…

In my cartoon mind, every other writer in the world has a sleek, professional writing space. One that carries them across the finish line to victory, much like a champion racehorse.

Meet my home writing space. It’s only defense: “I’m more organized than the hall closet.”

RubberDuckyCopywriter'sDesk2

I swear those clothes are clean.

We all know the rules — keep it dedicated, keep it clean. Eliminate visual clutter. When I’m in a cubicle, that’s how I keep my work environment. Sparse.

But my home writing space is also my freelance business center, scrapbooking station, craft corner, art studio, library, wedding planning zone and life-in-general headquarters.

If I wanted to enjoy it as a writing space again, I had to scrap my self-imposed ideals before I tossed a scrap of paper.

TIP: Set the right expectation. Your writing space needs to support your goals and your lifestyle. If you still need some reassurance that a certain degree of messy is okay, check out this article on Where We Write from The Millions.

Armed with a realistic perspective, I prepared to storm the castle.

But I just cleaned it out a few months ago. Should I start with my books? Wait, books are a separate project. Or am I just putting that off? Am I using this whole thing as an excuse to avoid writing?

Hey, while you’re talking it over with yourself like a crazy person, start by putting away your freakin’ laundry so you have a place to sit!

TIP: If you’re not sure where to start, try a layered approach. Instead of breaking it up into chunks that focus on specific tasks such as “file papers” or “clean out books”, address higher-level goals first.

LAYER 1: Start with your must-haves.

  • Place to sit
  • Legroom
  • Spot for a beverage
  • Stuff to write with
  • Room to reach the stuff to write with
  • The ability to enter and exit without an experienced rock climber for a guide

If you have everything on that list, you can sit down to write without excuses.

LAYER 2: Take the Nike approach—just do it.

You know that whole “I’ll do it later” schpeel? That’s how you end up with an office full of small tasks that gang together and form an intimidating posse whose only purpose is to make you take one look and mumble “meh, later.”

Like a bag of paperwork that’s you’ve left sitting on the floor for two four months instead of taking it to the shredding kiosk across the street.

Later is now.

TIP: Touch something only once and deal with it immediately.

Put anything you actually do need to deal with later  in a single location like a folder or a box. It’ll be a physical To-Do list instead of a swarm of visual problems you can’t solve right that minute.

Otherwise you’ll shuffle the same stuff around.

LAYER 3: Cut the clutter.

Rubber Ducky's Toy Chest

Toys toys toys

My two biggest clutter-makers are my desk toys and office supplies. So I put some desk toys in a drawer and when I feel like it, I’ll swap them out with the ones on my desk. Like what people do to keep their cats from getting bored.

Same went for my office supplies, craft supplies and art supplies. Anything that didn’t fit was donated.

TIP: Dedicate space for in-use items, and dedicate backup space for overflow. Set limits.

After each layer, I was more enthusiastic to hang out in my space. It’s nothing like how I’d always envisioned a professional writer’s desk, but it’s mine. And it’s pretty darn great.

LAYER 4: The cherry on top

You may have noticed that Rubber Ducky Copywriter has a fancy new look. That’s because I realized that my writing space is more than my desk. It’s also this blog.

I’d been looking at the same simple, black & white blog for a year. Not terrible but not exciting, either. So I spent a couple weeks going through new themes and (finally) chose this one. I love it. My blog feels like home again.

And like my home writing space, I’m pretty excited about this one, too.

Are you at home in your writing space? If not, what would you change?

8 thoughts on “Reclaiming your writer’s space

  1. I too cleaned up my writing area. I organized the drawers and threw away stuff that was, well, trash. How did trash end up in the drawers? I have no idea. I put away the dog toys. That lasted for part of a day. She got them all back out so they’re handy — watch your step. I followed the link and looked at other writers work space, I feel pretty good now. Just sayin’. I also updated my blog theme and am so pleased with the end result. Changing that actually helped me more than the cleaning and organizing. I like the background color of yours, its relaxing. I wish you the best of luck getting back to your happy self.

    • Yeah, how does trash end up in drawers? Boggles the mind. And yeah, after looking at those writers’ desks, mine was feeling about 50 lbs lighter before I touched anything. Happier already. 😉

      Thank you for the kind words. I like your blog theme, too. Very calm and welcoming. It definitely fits your blog.

  2. The quickest way to declutter is to move to a new location where you have 85% less space than you did before, then refuse to unpack anything. *Voila* Clean desk! 😀

  3. I started by getting a “new” desk. My current table-top was pitted, dented and paint-chipped. It was also ready to fall down. When writing, I tend to cross my legs and hook one foot on a table leg. Turns out, the table and shelf were particle board under all the paint. That foot-hook tends to make the screws eat the particle board, which of course, leads to a definite sway and wiggle, and eventually desk-failure. The problem was, it was the only computer desk that fit in the space allotted in my room!

    Two weeks ago, I was garage sale-ing (sailing? Heh), looking for supplies for a down-time craft. When I pulled onto a street, I saw a kidney-shaped desk that looked exactly like mine – only in good shape and with a smooth-finished, plastic-coated top table and bottom shelf. Turns out, it WAS a duplicate, down to being particle board under all that coating. I bought it anyway – because of its coating. It may take an extra year or two for the screws to eat through this one!

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