Writing Space and 10 Essential Tools
People have been talking quite a bit recently about an author’s “writing space”. This month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group askes the question “What are five objects we’d find in your writing space?” and I’ve seen the question in other forms asked in other places, on other blogs. I’m not entirely sure what the fascination is with where writers write, but I’ll play along.
I have an office in my home. Mostly, I do my formatting work there, but every so often I write there as well. I’ve got my laptop set up and plugged into a gaming keyboard (I like the clacky feel of typing on it, rather than the softness of the keyboard that is part of my laptop) and an external monitor. So, #1, 2 and 3 of the five objects are the basic tools of my trade: a laptop, keyboard, and monitor.
Naturally, I’ve got a gazillion pens of every sort (ballpoint, gel, rollerball, felt tip and fountain) in every color (that would be #4). And I can’t possibly write without my writing notebooks in which I organize all of my notes (#5).
I’ll pause a moment here to share my notebook with you because it’s essential to my writing process. For every book I write, I create a notebook (or, rather pages for an existing notebook). I discovered these ringed binders when Staples Office Supply store came out with their Arc system. When I got to Europe, I found them everywhere under the brand name Atoma. I love them! You can get them with colorful rings, you can take the paper out and put it in again. At Staples you can even buy whole punches so that you can punch the special holes in any paper you want to put into these notebooks. And I like them a lot better than a three-ring binder because you can turn the pages around so that the notebook opens like a spiral-bound notebook. Yeah, now that I think of it, they are basically spiral-bound notebooks where you can move the pages around, add more pages, and so on.
Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of these notebooks in all different sizes! The pages from different sized notebooks all fit into every notebook because the ring size is standard, so I can jot a note down in a pocket-sized notebook when I’m out and then move it to my full Letter sized notebook later.
Within my book notebook, I keep a section on the plot of my book (into which I put my W graph showing the overall structure of my plot), scene sheets and/or a page of Index Cards which I made up for myself (9 to a page, each “card” has the goal, conflict, and summary of a scene). The second section is my characters with a page for each major character and one where I can list all the minor characters. And then my all-important notes section where I jot down ideas and work out plot problems in a free-flowing way.
This method of organization has worked for me for over ten books (before that I used a three-ring binder).
So, what else will you find in my writing space – because there is a lot more than just five things?
Naturally, you’ll find a lot of notes (#6): stuck to the wall, to the bottom of my monitor and tacked onto my bulletin board. These are usually reminders to me: “What makes my protagonist heroic?, “Why do they love each other”, “Why don’t they?”, “Where’s the urgency?”, “A character’s goal and destination are different. What is their destination?” and so on. Some contain lists of names (I’m terrible at thinking up names and for Regency romances, I need lots of titles which are either made up or extinct. I keep a list on the wall right next to me).
Also on my wall, I’ve got a huge “W” graph on paper (#7). I use sticky notes to put up all of the scenes in my book – a different color depending on the point-of-view for that scene. That way I can easily see how many scenes I’ve got filling up (or not) my book and how balanced the scenes are from the hero and heroine’s point-of-view.
Number 8 is the (sadly) necessary noise-blocking headphones, which I recently bought myself. I use them when my downstairs neighbors are being particularly loud (the sound comes up through the pipes, I swear!) or when I go out to work at a café.
I always have a cup of tea by my side (#9) and last, but certainly not least, (#10) I’ve got my dog, Duchess, happily asleep on the fake fur rug under my desk.
These are the essential tools of my trade and my writing process. It’s the comfort with which I surround myself. What do you find necessary to have around you when you write?