Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Ideal Writing Spot

By: Stephanie S. Smith, Managing Blog Editor

It seems that most famous writers create a certain habitat for their genius, a custom-made space where their creativity can flow forth uninhibited. Virginia Woolf had A Room of One’s Own, J. K. Rowling has her European cafĂ©, and Kurt Vonnegut has his hardwood floor where he worked out of his lap. So what are the basic requirements for a writing spot?

A desk, of course, is essential (except, apparently, if you’re Vonnegut). Preferably, a mahogany, stylishly-distressed desk that just looks like classics have been written all over it. A desk in the tradition of Tolkien’s and C. S. Lewis’, which you can actually see on display (including the wardrobe that inspired Narnia) at the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College. Extra points if your desk has a secret compartment.

Next, coffee. Every writer needs an energy boost now and then. And if you’re self-employed, your caffeine addiction might even count as a tax deduction (don’t quote me on that…)! But don’t try to outdo French novelist Balzac, who was known to drink 50-300 cups of coffee per day.

Your writing space should also host somewhat of a cozy mess. Creative minds aren’t known for their organizational skills, you know.

Surround yourself with inspirational literary quotes. These will remind you not only how much you love, live, and breath writing, but how fun it is! Motivational catchphrases such as, “My stories run up and bite me on the leg” –Ray Bradbury, and, “Writing is…like a long bout of some painful illness.” -George Orwell, should get you off to a good start!

You should also have something to fidget with as you wrestle your brilliant ideas down onto paper. Stress balls, those cool moldable erasers, etc. Now is the perfect time to develop a bad habit such as cracking your knuckles or chewing your hair. All for the sake of art, of course.

A muse: whether it’s a picture of your sweetheart, your cat, or your Edgar Allan Poe bobble-head, you should have something to attribute your strokes of genius to. And someone to take your frustration out on when writer’s block hits.

What’s your writing environment? Where do you hammer out your thoughts, poems, and stories?


  1. I drank just 2 cups of coffee today and it gave me a anxiety attack that has lasted throughout the day. I think 50-300 cups would literally kill me.

  2. Sean, that's awful! I'm the same way, if I drink too much coffee I feel anxious and can't really focus on my work. One cup will get me going in the morning but more than that and it backfires.

  3. Weathered desk; check. Knuckle cracking habit; check. Inspiring quotations... well, if you count The Lady of Shalott and full bookshelves flanking my workspace. This is a great list! :)

  4. What is it about The Writing Desk that is so fascinating? I am fascinated even though I barely ever write at my desk - always on the hop, crouching here and there, notebooks, journals, coffee napkins. Am trying to drink more water though... and herbal teas! I wonder if herbal tea makes one's writing too bland?!!


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