Setting Up Shop Part 1: A Writer’s Space

Before we even think about gathering the tools of our trade, we need to find a place to keep these tools.

Let’s face it, every writer needs his space.  The first step in ensuring our success as a writers is to find/create our very own writing space/home office. We need a quiet space where we can park our behinds and write to our heart’s content.

1. Location is important in setting up shop.

Take a tour of  your house/apartment and find a relatively quiet spot where you can write.  Stay clear of the bedroom, unless you do most of your writing while  you’re asleep. The kitchen is a no-no, unless you want your manuscript to go up in smoke while  you’re making tea.  The bathroom  is not a very good idea, either,  as they have yet to invent water-resistant paper.

That leaves you with the living room and the dining room. These options are okay, as long you can permanently park  a small desk, a chair and maybe a small bookshelf in one corner. A spare bedroom would be perfect, if you have one. If you live in a tiny one bedroom apartment,  then partitioning off a small part of your living room might work, as long as you vow to have the TV off while you’re writing.

2. Once you have found the right location, the next thing you need to do is to buy the furniture for your small office. You will need:

a desk,  a comfortable  chair which will support your back  and a bookshelf to hold all your writing books and references, along with other items you might need.  If you have a ginormous printer like me, then you would probably need an extra surface to place this printer on. You can put the printer on your desk, but that would eat up most of your valuable writing surface.  A small filing cabinet will serve as a good printer stand, provide you with extra space for filing reference materials or other files and things related to your writing, as well as extra storage for office supplies:

A small desk and chair like the one on the right (which I bought for around $100) would be useful, especially if you don’t have much space.

If you have a big spare bedroom, or office and you have money to burn– then by all means buy a large executive desk with a matching leather seat and giant bookshelves like the (Stanley Furniture American Modern) one pictured below (a dream for any writer, no doubt!):

If you’re just beginning  your career as a writer, or if you’re a cheapskate–I mean–a wise shopper like me, then you could buy some second-hand furniture by :

a. Going online on and hunting for a desk/chair/bookshelf/filing cabinet that matches your needs. Most of the people who sell stuff on craigslist are looking for a quick sell and are willing to lower the already low prices they’ve set for their stuff.  Some people advertise there simply because they would like to get rid of their old furniture  so you might even get them for free.  A WARNING though, because of the recent economic struggles, (and because some people have no souls), you have to be careful with your dealings on this site. Don’t part with your money unless you have seen/ are seeing the goods for yourself.

b. Scouting for furniture at yard sales around your area.

c. Checking out flea markets nearby as they  might have second hand furniture for bargain prices.

d. Or if you’re a busy office worker like me and you barely have time to brush your teeth,  you can canvass various websites for the best deals .

Better yet, if you’re good at fixing things up –you can simply pick up a desk/chair/bookshelf thrown on  a stinky street curb, bring it home, fix it up with a few nails here and there and re-paint it.

The important thing is that you get furniture which are budget-friendly, functional and personal.

3. If you don’t have a computer then: rent/buy or barter for one.

Whether it’s a bulky desktop from the early 2000’s , a small netbook or a laptop some kind soul decided to pass on to you, having a computer is a necessity if you’re planning to be a writer. Sure, a lot of the greats wrote their masterpieces using only paper and pen and some of them considered the typewriter as the best technology ever made.  But unless you plan to spend two decades writing, re-writing/editing your novel, this is not the best way to go.

Most writers start by simply penning their thoughts and stories down on paper, but eventually, they, too have to type it all up before sending off to the next agency/ publisher.  Why? Well, because, most agents/editors simply don’t have the time (or the patience) to decipher or decode handwritten manuscripts.  Even if your story is the next bestseller, and even if you graduated with the “Best Penmanship” Award in High School, chances are your manuscript will be thrown into the slushpile or fed to a hungry goat as soon as they see that you’ve written your entire story by hand.

4. Accessorize. Make sure everything you need is within reaching distance so you have no excuse to get up every five seconds.

Add this to your shopping list: lampshade, 2 trash cans (one for recyclables), a small clock which you can set for timed writing activities, and a cordless phone (I’m sure you have one of these at home–it’s simply a matter of moving it to your writing area–unless of course, the phone doesn’t belong to you).

So far I’ve provided a general overview of what makes up a writing space. Rest assured, I will go into details about each component soon.

You have to put effort into making your space your own, so you’ll be more inspired to actually sit down and use the space you’ve created.

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4 Responses to “Setting Up Shop Part 1: A Writer’s Space”

  1. Nutschell,
    This looks just great! I can’t wait to read it and all your posted categories. It must have been a lot of work, but I’m sure it’s beneficial to you and other writers.
    I have a Facebook and Blog started, but haven’t taken the time to fill it with interesting observations yet. We’ve had various visits from company, steadily for about 3 weeks. When I feel comfortable with my Facebook, I’ll let you know. How did you find such an interesting way to present this? it’s totally wonderful!! Congratulations. Love the office set-up above. Bet I could write great stories if I had that kind of office!! Big Hugs, Vicki

  2. TerryToes says:

    Hi nutshell! I have a great large desk space which a carpenter friend sanded for me. I painted words of positive affirmation on it. I set a shelf unit on it for materials and writers’ books, and two shelf units hold up the board. my printer is down there, underneath. I have a good rolling desk chair, a large window just to my right and in front of me. It’s off the floor enough that I can’t see the street, but allows lots of light and a big green tree to look at, and give my eyes a rest. I have a 4-drawer wood chest for supplies and manuscripts. I just got a great lamp (9 bucks at a thrift store) with a swivel arm and a heavy base so I can adjust the light. I bought a heavy-duty incandescent bulb for bright light to spur me on. Light really influences my energy levels.

    I wrote stories describing my interesting life (and exposing my brain workings) for many years, in journals, and on my laptop, over the last ten years or so. Now I am retired and poor, and I rent a small room from a very positive and generous person. It is my desire and drive now, that I should finally do what I have always wanted to do: write for publication. So I have pared down my stuff.My keepsakes have been passed on to my children and I have nothing left to dust. I can go visit the children and my keepsakes whenever I wish. The most important possession I have is ME! My closet has all of my clothes, my bills are paid, so here I go.

  3. Ella says:

    This is great segment! Wow, you are so creative and I love how this could work into the Christmas wish list~ 😀
    Thank you!

    My desk is a blond Oak color, real oak. My husband refinished my grandfather’s desk. It use to be in a Texaco station, when I was young. I love the memories and sentiment attached! This is now upstairs in our FROG(Freezing Room Over Garage-lol) No, it isn’t that cold…. Downstairs computer looks like Cherrywood, but its not. Fun to think about all the possibilities and a dream of an office/writing nook! 😀

  4. Trace Avery says:

    I have my office (which I built over my storm shelter- just seemed like a good location) and it serves me well for getting away to find quiet and peace from the everyday surroundings also my loving family. My “cave” is located close to my house but not attached. The only downfall is… the family can still get to me to interrupt my thoughts when they deem I am needed to solve any pending disaster. Therefore at times my laptop and I will mount my horse to ride to a grassy knoll or wherever I can find a relaxing place and that becomes my writing space. I try to regulate a certain time each day to create or edit my work, a time which I won’t be disturbed or disturb time to labor at manual work, entertain myself with play, or to just have quality family time.
    Thanks for this “component” and I’m looking forward to reading the upcoming information you may offer…


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