Friday, December 16, 2011

On Vacation...

Hi Folks,

Just a quick note to say I'm traveling and visiting fam and napping and eating unqualified amounts of cookies, and the blog will probably be somewhat sporadically updated over the next few weeks. I'll pop in and out, and get back on schedule in January.

Happy holidays!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why You Need a Writing Space

I love my Monday posts every week, when I get to comb the Internet for pictures of funny, warm, beautiful, and interesting offices and writing spaces. Coincidentally, I heard from two readers in the last few days who mentioned that they don't have a work space of their own. I'm here to tell you:

You need an office.

And here's why: writing (or editing or copy editing) is your job. It's not a hobby that you like to do in your spare time (even if you like to do it in your spare time). It's a job. And it's not something that can be done sitting on the couch or while jockeying for space on your kitchen table. I know there are lots of people who do just that and do it well, which, if it works for you, that's great. But I still want to make my case for why your own space is incredibly important and will actually help you get your work done.

When I made the big "real" job to writing job leap, I was worried that I wouldn't have the discipline to actually sit down and write for 8 hours a day. I wanted to force myself to stick to a routine, to recreate as much as possible an actual work setting. I promised myself two things:

1. Get an office
2. Don't wear pajamas every day.*

When we were apartment-hunting, the only thing I thought about was "I will be here for literally the entire day, and I have to love it." Luckily, we hit the jackpot with our apartment, and I built myself my dream desk, and I absolutely, up-the-wall, adore my sunny little corner. It is beautiful, it is relaxing, it is mine.

The mine part is very important. My desk is not the husband's desk. My desk is not where the mail goes or where we drop off groceries. My desk isn't even where I get other work done. It is a space absolutely dedicated to writing. I have all my papers there and my notes and my pens and pencils. I have a big, gorgeous external monitor and space for my laptop. Everything I need is within arm's length, and when I sit down every morning, everything is exactly where I left it.

Having a desk has given me boundaries and guidelines, which, with a job as freewheeling as this, is incredibly important. I make sure my butt is in the chair by 9AM, and I do not leave until 5PM. While I'm actually at the desk, I might write or I might stare out the window for 45 minutes or I might spend an hour researching Chinese mobs on Wikipedia. But the important thing is that I'm at the desk for 8 hours a day, and in general, that makes the work get done.

I know for a lot of people, having your own space can be extremely difficult, but it is so rewarding that I urge you to try to carve out something: a desk or a corner of the room that is purely for you, where no one else sits, where you can go to every day free from distraction. I'm sure it's possible. I am sure. I lived in a teeny-tiny apartment that I shared with two other people for three years, and I still managed to give myself a corner in my bedroom that became my writing space.

And writing spaces don't even necessarily have to be in your own home. A favorite coffee place can be a writing space (although you run the risk of angering barristas). You can write in public libraries or even find a shared office space in your area where you can rent out a desk by the month.

What's most important is that the space supports your work, not distracts from it. You're doing serious, important, hard work, and it demands the respect of its own dedicated area. So get an office.

What do you think? Do you have a space or are you a couch-bed-kitchen table writer?

*I wear pajamas every day. The first few days, I tried changing into real-people clothes, but after a week or two I realized I was more comfortable just staying in pjs, and when I was comfortable and not thinking about my clothing, I was less distracted and more productive. So most days I wear pj pants, a t-shirt, and a huge bright-blue bathrobe that makes me look like a muppet and is exceedingly warm. Except because I have a standing desk, and my slippers don't provide enough support, I also have to wear my running shoes. It's...not an attractive outfit...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Writing Spaces Monday: Gettin' Cozy

It's my last few days here in my apartment in Chicago before the husband and I head out East for a graduation, a Christmas party, and a new niece/nephew, and we're busy getting things ready for our two-week absence*. Today I'm off to bake cookies/pizzas for an impromptu Love, Actually party (oh the joys of self-employment) while the husband works from home for once, and things here are feeling very cozy, which inspired today's writing space.

Now, to be honest, what I really wanted to post a picture of was the husband's home office, where he may or may not be sitting wearing what we call his Santa Claus long undies, a Snuggie, and my awesome headphones. And yet, I love him, and so, for the sake of marital stability, I decided to look instead for warm and cozy offices inspired by log cabins:

from Jared Chandler
So much pine! And the foundation is made from real river rocks
(I can imagine sitting at the desk and giving yourself a little foot massage).

via Scarlett Poole
 Love that huge armchair in the back
(in general, design stylists should just be in charge of everyone's home. period.)

from Thomas Mayer Architects

This one is actually designed to sit in a backyard garden (it's on wheels).
The construction is just so, so gorgeous, with all the wood log ends forming one whole wall.
Check out the link for more photos.

The inside of the garden cabin.
Beautiful blue, beautiful sunlight.

*Any gardeners out there with tips/tricks on how to keep a Peace Lily and Rosemary tree alive for two weeks?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Blog Wrap Up: Snow Edition

I woke up this morning to a white surprise: snow in Chicago!* I find that I enjoy snow much more now that I don't have to walk around in it in high heels, although by the time I tried to take a picture, most of the snow had already melted (please accept this snowy photo of an iced-over Walden Pond in its stead).

On to this week's wrap up!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

15 Gifts for the Writer in Your Life

I get it. Writers can be finicky folk to buy gifts for. Notebook? "I write on a laptop." Pens? "Sure, but I only use Pilot EasyTouch in Blue Medium."* Books? "Get me something I haven't already read. Seriously. Try to do it." Kindle Fire? No wait, whom do you love enough to buy them a freakin' Kindle Fire?

To (maybe) make it easier on you, here are 15 gift ideas for the writer/reader/editor/publisher in your life (I promise, no pens):

Monday, December 5, 2011

Writing Spaces Monday: A Dickensian Christmas

Spotify Christmas Radio is playing, Chicago looks as grey and dismal as a graveyard, and my apartment has a lovely pine smell, which can only mean it's getting to be Christmas!

I'll be posting a few Christmas-related posts in the coming week, but I wanted to kick things off with one of my favorite Christmas writers, Charles Dickens:

Here he is hard at work, and here's another view of his desk:

Every year I try to load up on as much Christmas media as possible (my favorite discovery: the She & Him Christmas album--Zoey Deschanelle and lovely, bluesy Christmas carols), and A Christmas Carol ranks up there with the best. If you'd like to read it yourself, you can check it out here, thanks to the magic of the internets.

Enjoy the rest of the week, and here's hoping your office is nicer than Bob Cratchit's:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Blog Wrap Up: Christmas Trees Edition!

It's officially December, which means I can set up our first Christmas tree, draw some stockings on our chalkboard wall, and stop sneaking Christmas carols on Spotify!

It also means that NaNoWriMo is over! How did everyone do? Galleycat reported that this year, writers produced more than three billion words--amazing! But don't forget that December is unofficially National Edit a Novel Month. For those getting started on editing, Lifehacker put together some great tips and tricks for editing your novel.

This week, bloggers seemed to make up for the holidays with a slew of interesting posts on publishing, agenting, editing, and writing: