If you’re like me, then you’ve always dreamed of having your own writing space — a place you go only when writing, a spot that brings you inspiration.
If you’re like me, then you’ve probably set up a writing area only to have it be overcome by every single thing in the world except writing.
My so-called “writing area” quickly became the go-to dumping grounds for receipts, voided checks, weekly menus, vacuum parts, books, craft supplies, clean laundry, photo albums, the occasional suitcase, and just about anything and everything else you can think of.
I would spend most of my writing time simply trying to clear a space to work, and by the time I’d make room, the writing bug would’ve flown. Or, if I still had energy left, I’d sit down and think only about bills, menus, and finances.
Not very inspiring.
Not only did I treat my writing space with no respect, but neither did my husband. It was normal for us to stash our day-to-day clutter there and say, “We’ll clean it up later.”
While it wasn’t intentional, we were both silently saying my writing was unimportant.
One day, while I was complaining to my husband about my constant lack of desire to write, particularly while at home, it dawned on me: of course I didn’t feel like writing there. I’d repeatedly buried my writing beneath, honestly, a pile of junk!
I’d had enough.
I popped in some headphones and got to work. In our apartment, there’s a built-in writing surface in an alcove to the side, which I had claimed as my desk area from the get-go. I kept journals, sketchpads, picture frames, pens, stationary, and all sorts of other office supplies there.
I started by putting all of it on the floor. Then I thought about my ideal writing space, and this is what I came up with.
1. Store Stress Someplace Else
If I was going to create a space to fuel inspiring thoughts, then I couldn’t have anything there to derail me. For me, that meant getting rid of anything that brought me down.
The obvious answer was to get rid of bills and checks and planners.
Getting over writer’s block is hard enough without the added stress of worrying about your finances! Do yourself, and your writing, a favor and find a new area to keep your important documents.
Luckily, I was able to make space for a ledger on a bookshelf — now, my husband and I take that work to the dining table.
I am a firm believer that clutter hinders productivity. For one, it stresses me out, and it also breaks my focus because I spend so much time either looking at all my clutter or trying to get around it.
Clutter is distracting, and it’s not helping your writing any.
Go through everything that fills up your writing space and make the tough choice to throw junk away.
It may feel like you’re getting rid of treasures, but, believe me, when your brand new writing space is clean, tidy, and free of old sticky-notes and that stack of story drafts, you’ll feel lighter.
3. Respect the Space
If you’re going to get serious about writing, then you need to get serious about writing. This means treating it with respect.
If you designate an area in your house to writing, then that space can only be for writing.
Don’t browse Facebook in that space, don’t watch Netflix in that space, don’t play video games in that space.
Consider your writing area a sacred place where only good thoughts can grow, and make sure your family knows this too.
I told my husband that we could no longer throw our junk there and walk away. In fact, I told him not to put anything there without my permission.
I also asked my husband to remind me not to put anything unrelated to writing in that space — ’cause I’m guilty of it, too!
4. Make it Yours
Your writing area should make you feel good.
De-cluttering your space doesn’t mean making it an empty space — you can, and should, surround yourself with inspirational objects.
Before I took back my writing space, I would sit there and feel gross and heavy just looking at all the junk hogging all the room.
Now, when I slide into that chair, I feel actual joy. After I finished cleaning my area, I just sat there and drank it all in. I found myself smiling for no reason.
If there are quotes that move you to work, print them out and hang them up! If there are pictures you love, include them! Make sure your writing space is yours.
For me, I have a Walt Whitman quote, a dreamcatcher, a lithograph of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, a painting of the Eiffel Tower, and a sweet note from my husband. They all bring me joy.
5. Add a Touch of Life
It is scientifically proven that plants can improve your productivity and your happiness .
To me, this sounds like a perfect excuse to buy yourself flowers every week! After all, you spend $5 on coffee every morning — why not put one or two of those white mochas toward a longer-lasting and (debatably) prettier-to-look-at writing charm?
6. Create Good Habits
Because your writing space is new to you, it may feel strange to work in it!
It’s not bad to write in other places, but it would be a shame to let such a perfect area go to waste by spending all your good writing in other places.
If you find yourself at home, writing in a place that isn’t your writing area, move to work in your space.
I believe doing this will train your mind to work better in your writing area. The reason I can no longer consistently work well on the couch is because I have spent way too many hours (read: days) watching Netflix there.
Some days, when I’m trying to work on the couch, no matter how hard I try to resist, I still end up re-watching an entire season of Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve put (a shameful amount of) hours into training myself that Couch = Netflix. Trying to work there is almost pointless.
But, in a similar way, you can train yourself to think Writing Space = Writing.
I get that writing doesn’t always come when we want it to. Believe me, I get it. But, I’ll be honest with you, taking back my writing space has been one of the easiest, yet most effective, tricks in getting myself to write more.
It may seem like a daunting task, tackling that growing pile of things you just don’t have time to find a place for.
But it is so worth the effort! Not only will your home feel cleaner, but you’ll also be so excited about your “brand new” writing space that you’ll be rearing to get to work.