Some writers need the routine of retreating to an office every time they work, while others feel inspired by changing locations. Whether it’s piled high with books or neat as a pin, every writer’s workspace is an extension of their creative selves.
Video calls give a curated glimpse into our lives: a picture framed on the wall or the flick of a pet’s tail on the edge of the screen. But we rarely share our own view, the things we look at every day when we sit down at our desks (or wherever we may be).
The Version A team recently got together to discuss our personal writing spaces, flipping the camera to get some perspective on the surroundings and habits that help each of us produce our best work.
Writing must-have: IKEA chair
My main workspace is a standing desk overlooking our alleyway. I’m the first to admit, I’m not very good at spending time on my feet while working. I cheat. I have a chair for my standing desk. Even so, I make a point to get up or walk around the room during most of my meetings.
Otherwise, this workspace is ideal for video calls and data-intensive copyediting. For example, if I’m proofreading an ebook that includes a lot of data points, I have plenty of room for two screens, which makes it easier to view and compare multiple documents.
Writing-wise, I prefer to be in my other “office” with my IKEA chair and ottoman. For whatever reason, I can’t sit at a desk and write. It’s easier for me to focus when I have my feet up.
Normally, my writing hours end by early afternoon. On most days, I’ll take a walk or swim first thing in the morning, then start writing early, before 8 am. I’m more energized and able to focus. By 1 pm, I find I have to transition into less brain-intensive tasks.
Writing must-have: Crystals and candles
I like to have things both ways. I prefer to have a routine and to have my workspace look a certain way, but I prioritize travel so that doesn’t happen all the time. I like to have my laptop and a big monitor, I like to be looking out a window, and I like to have my tchotchkes around me.
But since I often work in really weird places while I’m traveling (for example, I worked out of a storage closet while I was doing volunteer disaster work in Florida), I have certain things that are part of my routine that are fairly transportable.
I always have a candle burning. I have my stress ball and certain crystals. For example, this is carborundum, a man-made crystal. I always have green calcite, which is calming, and blue celestine, which is for communication. My theory is you’re not going to cure a major disease with them, but they run our laptops, our watches, and our electronic devices so they definitely have certain properties. Plus, they’re pretty, they make me happy, and I like the way they look.
I always have coffee to start and other beverages throughout the day, so my workstation quickly gets covered in coffee cups and seltzer cans.
I try to have certain things that I always keep the same no matter where I am, and that helps me a lot.
Writing must-have: Paper planner
My workspace is nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. We built an office off of our unfinished basement because we live in a Cape Cod style house and we’re a family of five. So I had to find a way to carve out a space for myself to work. It always tends to get chilly in our basement, so I always have a blanket in my lap while I’m working.
I work with a small laptop, but I have a bigger monitor hooked up as I like working on a large screen. I need a smaller laptop because sometimes my workspace gets transported to, say, baseball practice. In other words, my workspace sometimes has to move with me as I need to take my kids somewhere and camp out for a while. The work must go on!
In addition to my laptop, I absolutely cannot get through the day without my planner. But it’s not digital. I am an old school paper planner addict. I love seeing my day laid out. While it’s not as neat as some may expect from a Type A person like myself, it’s color coded so I can easily what’s work related and what’s personal. I absolutely love crossing things off my planner as the day goes on, so I can see the progress I’m making.
Like Diane, I have to write earlier in the day, but for a different reason. After a certain point, I have to stop and start to take the kids places, so I try to reserve the afternoon hours for quick administrative things. But in the morning, I have a chunk of time to focus, so I try to get the things that need a devoted span of time done then.
Writing must-have: Gaming keyboard
My office is in a converted attic space with lots of crazy angles. I have a floor-level window next to my desk where my dog likes to sit and look out. This is also my yoga studio and guest room. And I have a pack’n’play for my six-month-old.
I try to keep my space fairly calm. I need to focus and clear my head, so a relaxing space is a big part of that for me. I can really only work at my desk; I’m not very good at writing in places where everything isn’t exactly where I need it.
I have my little laptop and a big monitor. I also bought and returned maybe eight different keyboards before finding the one that felt best to write on. It’s a gaming keyboard but it has the right key sound and the right tactile feel for me. I write a lot by feel while I’m looking at my monitor, so that was a really important component to get right. It also lights up, which helps me write in the dark.
In terms of writing schedule, I wish I had more regular times to write, but with my baby I’m often just finding moments here and there. I need that calm, focused space so I can pick up where I left off.
Our writing spaces are just as unique as our personal writing styles. Want to learn more about how we do our best work? Check out our last discussion about where we find inspiration – not just at our desks.