Home office ideas for writers
Every writer needs a place to work, whether it’s a cozy writing desk or a comfy reading chair. Let’s explore some options for the best home office for writers. Creating writing spaces is also part of the fun of being a writer.
Your writing space is important. How do you get started creating the best home office for writers?
First, make sure that you have the tools of the trade taken care of. This could include having the right pen and notebook, or possibly a laptop, for the actual writing. Now, you will need a place to work.
Let me just share a few tips about the spaces that have—and have not—worked for me as a writer. For starters, the dining room table or kitchen table should be ruled out. Why? Let me explain.
For years, I learned the hard way that while this seemed liked a convenient place to work, the dining room table was counter-productive. First of all, you can’t really spread out because often, that table is called into duty for meals or the kids’ homework. Just when you are getting on a roll, you have to pack everything back up. This has happened to me when I had my notes spread out for chapter, including charts and Post-It notes. It’s a bit frustrating and wastes time—and our goal is to reduce frustration and make the best use of time.
In our busy household, my spouse and kids, plus the dog or cat, were always coming and going. While it may be true that Charles Dickens often wrote in a chair in a corner, he must have had amazing powers of concentration. Let’s just concentrate on our writing.
You need your own space. But where to find it? Here are some home office ideas.
Unless you live in a tiny apartment or a Manhattan studio, it’s likely that you have some sort of unused space in your home. Empty nesters may have an entire extra bedroom now that the kids have flown the coop. Now may be the perfect time to convert Jack’s or Hailey’s bedroom. The car posters can come down off the walls.The stuffed animals can go to the attic, or better yet, off to Goodwill.
Earlier, I mentioned dining rooms. In our small house, the dining room is where we have actual family meals each day. However, you may have a dining room that is more for show … often becoming de facto storage. Perhaps this would be the perfect space to make your own for writing.
Don’t discount a walk-in closet. In newer homes, this are often spacious enough to make a perfect, cozy writing space. After all, do you really need 50 pairs of shoes? Would you gain more pleasure from writing?
Invoke your inner Marie Kondo. Finding your best writing space may be the perfect time to declutter. Just don’t get sidetracked! Your goal here is to get writing, not practice minimalism.
You can transform even the most basic space with some paint. Even a small carpet can separate your writing space from a larger area and give it new personality.
Ideally, your space should be private in that you can close the door and shut out the rest of the world. Like Stephen King said, there is a point in your creative writing process where you just want to be able to shut the door. (The door can be figurative, but a physical door helps.)
“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right — as right as you can, anyway — it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.”Stephen King, On Writing
If space is truly at a premium, surely you can claim a corner of the bedroom or that awkward space behind the living room sofa where the perfect writing desk could go. It’s time to be creative! You’re a writer, after all!
Where else can you make space for a home office?
Spaces in the basement, garage, or attic are also an option, with one caveat. It’s important not to take on too much of a project. My own writing space is on the third floor, in the attic. Yes, it’s a great place to work, but converting the old attic to a home office took a great deal of work to renovate. Instead, I have another solution …
Maybe, instead of going up or down in your home, you should go out …
A completely separate studio could be awesome, if that’ an option. You may have a free-standing garage or shed that could be converted. Neil Gaiman has something like this behind his home. If it’s good enough for the best-selling author of The Graveyard Book, then why not for you?
Again, the key here is to get writing and not sidetracked into a massive building project.
You might even consider an entirely separate space, such as an RV. More than one writer has used the motorhome parked in the backyard or driveway as a writing getaway.
Another option might be the so-called “granny pods” that create instant living space in your yard. Of course, this solution might be far beyond your budget.
How to make it your own? Here are some first steps.
You might follow the lead of the wonderful and prolific author Sandra Brown, who sits in a comfortable chair and lights candles for her writing sessions.
Above all, you want this space to be comfortable and inviting. This should be where you want to go and write. This is not intended to be punishment.
Remember when you were a kid and your dad built you a treehouse? Maybe you and your friends just built a fort or shack to hang out in. Your writing space should be like that, just without the old milk crates to sit on.
Let’s explore a few of these writing space must-haves in more detail here:
Lighting. You want at least a strong reading lamp for going over those drafts you printed out, or for writing in your journal.
Pens and notebooks. No home office would be complete without your favorite pen and notebook. Even if you write primarily with a keyboard, the tactile connection of putting pen to paper can definitely help the thought process. You can learn more about pens and notebooks using our Writerly Sage guides.
Comfort. It’s important not to be too cold or too warm, for that matter. Consider a soft throw or heater under your desk, or a fan for those warm summer evenings at your writing desk.
Quiet or music? This is a personal choice, obviously. Some writers do find that a little background music (typically without lyrics) helps them concentrate. Consider at least some sort of white noise in the background such as a fan or fountain to block out traffic, shouting kids in the street, crowing roosters, clashing swords (just seeing if you are paying attention, lol).
Distraction. Darts. Zen garden. Plants. For gazing and thinking.
Dog bed. Cat toys. Our fur babies like to be busy or comfy, too.
Decor. If your thing is to color coordinate your keyboard with your pencil holder, go for it. However, there’s nothing wrong with an eclectic approach. Find cool desk accessories that inspire you and reflect your personality. For example, on my desk I have a mouse pad patterned with an old map. You may want a wall calendar with pictures of puppies or Civil War battlefields, or a poster of a Yosemite National Park or else of dangling kitten that proclaims, “Hang in there!” Use the motivation that works for you to get busy writing.
As Yoda once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Desk and chair. Again, comfort and utility are important here. Your desk may be as simple as an old foam-core door set between two filing cabinets, or a complex as an electric-powered standing desk. If you want the scoop on what works best, check out our post here on desks for writers and home office desks.
Candles. Like author Sandra Brown, you can set the writing mood. Also, scents can be a powerful trigger for emotion and imagination. What sets your writing mood?
Mug. Let’s face it. Writers basically live off warm beverages, often ones with various amounts of caffeine. Coffee, tea, chai, hot cocoa … you will need a large mug to drink these from. For me, I have bought mugs over the years at places I have visited, from Mount Vernon to Seattle to colonial Boston. These mugs from my travels make me happy with good memories when I sip my tea.
When I write, I like a reason to get up from time to time and do something with my hands while my mind wrangles a plot point or phrase off in the background. For me, this requires having a dartboard in the office. A miniature Zen garden might be a good distraction. A mini basketball hoop. You get the idea.
While working at a desk is best much of the time, don’t discount the value of having a comfy chair nearby so that you can switch back and forth. Also, this gives your back a break. Some writers work a bed into the mix, but there is an obvious danger here … naps!
Finally, this is your space to work and create. Make it your happy place. Make it comfortable and inviting. This make some time, but it should be a fun project to create a home office. Start small and build your space as you go, finding (and perhaps editing) what does or does not work for you. Like your novel, a good writing space can be a work in progress. Above all, get busy writing!
The right mousepad can set the tone and help to personalize your space.
Why not learn a little something from your calendar?
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