What are the Most Important Things in Your Writing Space and Why?

Carolyn J. Rose said:

A few days ago I took a look around my office and was amazed by the amount of stuff packed into that 10x12 space. I’d be at it for days if I had to pack up and move to a less high-maintenance home—something we consider when we’re overwhelmed by encroaching foliage, stampeding dust bunnies, and windows with enough smears to make a CSI technician rethink his career.

“Don’t worry,” the optimist side of my brain said, “A move is years away. Housing prices are still in the toilet and you’re a long way from downsizing.”


That means not only moving, but also minimizing

And that’s a word that can strike terror into the heart of even someone with the habit of going through closets each spring and finding new homes for clothing, books, cooking utensils, and Christmas gifts from Aunt Belinda that can only be described as “unique.”

But, terrifying as the thought of winnowing, packing, lifting, lugging, and unpacking may be, someday we’ll bite the bullet and move into smaller digs.

So I decided to prepare myself by taking a hard look at my office and deciding what is absolutely essential.

The desk, chair, computer, and printer obviously will have to stay. And, no way can I sacrifice the stapler, hole punch, tape dispenser, reference books, telephone, file cabinets, or bookshelves.

It would be impossible to part with the address book, that vase full of pens and pencils, the basket loaded with index cards and pads of sticky notes, or the rolling shelves that hold reams of paper. And of course I’ll need the mouse pad, wrist rest, paper clips, manila file folders, padded and plain envelopes, stamps, pencil sharpener, calendar, and highlighter pens.

Finally, there are the boxes of books, stands, postcards, display signs, and business cards that go with me to events at bookstores. And there are the handouts I tote to workshops at libraries and other venues.

That seems like enough to fill a half-ton pickup, but I haven’t skimmed the surface of what’s truly important, I haven’t listed the top ten writing-space items I couldn’t function without.

Here they are in order of importance:

10) The stack of index card with the titles of TBR books that grows ever taller as I read reviews and comments on my favorite blogs chat groups.

9) A window to gaze out of and watch birds, squirrels, and neighbors. (Hmmm. Is that why they put up that enormous fence?)

8) Artwork, photos, and knickknacks to stimulate memories of milestone events, places I’ve visited, and friends I’ve made or reconnected with.

7) The bulletin boards on which I post cartoons related to writing, inspirational slogans (Sit down, shut up, and write), and politically incorrect bumper stickers I don’t dare put on my car for fear I’ll be run off the road.

6) The television I insist is there in the name of research (you never know when you’ll need to watch an episode of Lock N’ Load) and as a motivational tool (when my plotting needs CPR and my writing has all the sparkle of that planet formerly known as Pluto, a B movie is just the ticket to make me feel better).

5) The CD player that provides the backbeat that keeps my fingers moving to the Rolling Stones, The Travelin’ Wilburys, The Doors, Bob Seger, and host of others.

4) The nail file I use to take care of chips and breaks and to pry food particles from between the keys.

3) The ceramic tile I set cups of hot coffee or soup on.

2) A box of tissues to take care of sniffles, sneezes, and spills.

1) A strategically placed mirror to remind me that I’m not getting any younger and I’d better stop wasting time and get back to that work in progress.

What’s on the top-ten list for your office? Stop by and share in the comment space below.

Carolyn's Bio:

Carolyn J. Rose grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She lives in Vancouver, Washington, and founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers. Her hobbies are reading, gardening, and not cooking.

She is the author of four published mysteries and a suspense novel, and the co-author of four other mysteries and a fantasy. Surf to www.deadlyduomysteries.com for more information.

By Carolyn J. Rose

An Uncertain Refuge

Hemlock Lake

Consulted to Death

Driven to Death

Dated to Death

Co-authored with Mike Nettleton

Sometimes a Great Commotion

The Big Grabowski

The Hard Karma Shuffle

The Crushed Velvet Miasma

The Hermit of Humbug Mountain



Want to win a copy of Uncertain Refuge? All you have to do is leave a comment. We'll have a drawing early Friday morning and let you know who the lucky winner is!


Marjorie/cenya2 said…
Absolutely, I would love to read her novel.
Thanks for the chance to win and read this book.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com
Carolyn J. Rose said…
Marilyn, thanks for letting me hang out here. I'm looking forward to seeing what others have in their writing spaces.
Lss said…
the 'successories' picture of an iceberg with imagination or something like that under it. The photo of the iceberg is more important than what it says. It reminds me of a writing class I took where the instructor said that the whole iceberg is what the writer knows, the part above the water is what the reader sees.

Hannah Dennison said…
My cat. A large pot of pens of different colors (I have a craze for Sharpies Pen med. point. A CD of British Songbirds I bought from the British Library playing in the background (so I can pretend to be back in England). Big bowl of M & M's.....
#5. My copy of "For Whom The Bell Tolls" which is used to elevate my monitor.

#4. My pool table, the perfect, writer-avoidance distraction.

#3. My miniature mattress bank, which, when full of coins will finance a round of golf or entry in a poker tournament.

#2. My thesaurus and dictionary

#1. Max the magnificent, one of our two dinky dogs.

You'll note that Carolyn, whose office is just upstairs from mine uses most of her items in her writing. I use most of mine to avoid writing. Hmmmm.
Marni said…
My goodies include my Compact OED; a stuffed Lakeland Terrier that wears my name ID from an Oxford summer on his neck ribbon;and room drawings I've done of the layout of the two main places the action takes place in the novel I'm revising in Cumbria.They're clipped onto a piece of cardboard and are propped up against the back of my husband's two monitors: we share a partner's desk to work--now THAT'S a challenge!
Carolyn J. Rose said…
Yikes - sharing an office space. Tat IS brave. Mike and I haven't done that for about a dozen years. If you read his comment above, you'll see why.
Cathy said…
Great posts! I need my big foamboard and multi-colored sticky notes for story boarding, my smartphone so I can text my family for encouragement, and my "ideas" notebook for descriptions, settings, and character names.
Melanie Sherman said…
It took me a while, after reading the word "downsizing" to continue on--such was the terror in my heart.
Carol-Lynn Rossel said…
My office is in my kitchen and besides the usual kitchen appliances I've two laptop macs, three printers, a full spectrum light, a flatscreen tv I use as a monitor for one of the macs, overflowing bags and boxes of more audio engineering equipment than most would care to encounter, two wacom tablets: the usual office stuff. No place to eat, of course, since the tables are covered with electronics. A land line phone which I seldom answer. An upright piano. With chair. Six cameras. Two office chairs with wheels.
Carolyn J. Rose said…
Wow - an office in the kitchen. I could simply roll my chair to the refrigerator or pantry for a snack. And there would be no room to cook so I could give it up entirely. You're a genius. I bow to you. And also to Hannah with the M&Ms
Anne K Albert said…
Fun, sound advice. The mirror thing about not getting any younger made me lol! My TBR list continues to grow, Carolyn. You're on it!!
Jackie/Nora said…
First time I've looked around in a long time. It's a highly structured bit of chaos, but I function in here in spite of it. Glad to see I'm not the only one.
Anonymous said…
Not an author but my office space includes most everything mentioned here. Downsize? Bhwahaha

boots9k at wowway dot com
Jinx Schwartz said…
I'm there now, soooo here goes.

1. View of golf course so I will know my husband is still alive.

2. Basket of things labled "HANGIN' FAR".

3. Two laptops, one to write, one to do everything else but write, so laptop two sees a lot of action these days.

4. Calendar, just to make sure I have NO social life to impede writing, Just in Case I ever do any.

5. Camera. Never know what will end up on my patio. Got a great shot of a roadrunner with a snake one day.

6. Telephone I do not answer.

7. Book outline. You know, Just In Case.

8. Reference books. See above.

9. Coffee mug.

10. Photo of wedding day as a reminder to my protagonist, Hetta Coffey, that old broads sometimes do find love. Just in Case.
Carolyn J. Rose said…
Love these comments - keep them coming. I'm off to get a bigger calendar so I can keep better track of my non-social life.
David said…
Carolyn: Loved An Uncertain Refuge, it would make a great Christmas gift for a reader on my list if I won it.
I liked the comments about paring down. Lately I have felt tied down by the things I have collected along the way. It is sad to let once treasured things go, but prison releases always have an element of gloom.

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