What Should a Writer’s Workspace Look Like?

Patricia Bradley Readers, Romantic Suspense, Writing 41 Comments

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Everystock Photo

Everystock Photo

I have a friend who interviews writers about their workspace. http://lisajordanbooks.com/blog/ And their offices look so neat and tidy. Sometimes I always wonder how they can work in such order. And I wonder if that’s the way their offices always look, or do they hide all their “stuff” before they take the picture?

I remember as a kid when someone called and said they were going to drop by,  we all worked like crazy stuffing things under the couch or in a closet for the 30 minutes or so it took them to get to our house. This was way before cell phones, so you got more advanced warning. Now when people call it’s usually from the driveway or around the corner, if they call at all. Most just drop in. More than one person has found my living room and kitchen a mess. And heaven forbid they look in my office.

But back to writers and their offices. I’ve heard that some writers must have a clean desk to be able to write. And others like me, write through the chaos. I had a friend to tell me once that he’d heard  people who could stand clutter were well adjusted, and if that was true, then I was very well adjusted.

Here’s a photMy officeo of my office–and that’s just one wall. It doesn’t always look that messy. Really. But those sheets you see are my plot board where I’ve outlined the last half of a book.

Sometimes I have more distractions than other times. Like here: That’s6CB80CF0-8A5F-48A0-A5D7-8F4F4D08F814 my kitty Suzy in my lap. She’s why I can’t work somedays. 🙂

For about six months out of the year, I do have another office. It’s on my back deck:

It’s my favorite place to work!

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How about you? Where do you like to work? And do you like your work area neat and tidy or can you work better if it’s a little messy?

Tell me about it and I’ll enter you in a drawing for my 2nd book in the Logan Point series,   A Promise to Protect. But first, the winners from last week:

Laurie Bergh — Shadows of the Past

Delores Topliff: $10 Gift card

Elaine Stock, Mary Hamilton’s YA book See No Evil

A Promise to Protect

Overview

In a steamy small town riddled with broken promises, one woman’s secret could change everything.

Acting Sheriff Ben Logan hasn’t heard from Leigh Somerall in a very long time, but it doesn’t mean he can get her–or their whirlwind romance of ten years ago–out of his head. When she calls out of the blue, it is with a strange request to protect her brother, Tony. But all too soon, Ben is charged with a different task–protecting Leigh from the people after her brother. With Leigh doing everything in her power to avoid Ben, it’s no easy task. And the secret she is keeping just may change their lives forever.


“A taut story of mistakes and betrayal, a mother’s fierce love, revenge and danger–and the redeeming wonders of faith and love.”
–Lorena McCourtney, author of the Cate Kinkaid Files and the Ivy Malone Mysteries

“Old secrets, second chances at love, and a skillfully crafted small-town suspense. You will fall in love with Ben and Leigh and cheer them on as they fight for their happy ending. I’m making room on my shelf for all of Patricia Bradley’s novels!”–Susan May Warren, bestselling and award-winning author of When I Fall in Love

Comments 41

  1. dtopliff

    Hard work usually creates some surrounding litter, just like sawing boards to build creates sawdust that needs sweeping up. If the space is too pristinely clean, we might wonder how much work is actually getting done.

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  2. Janice Hopkins

    I think a writer’s workspace should be whatever works best for that person. Some people need a neat, clean, organized environment to work well. Others are happy with everything spread out and within easy reach. Also, we are all usually restrained somewhat by what’s available and reasonable for us. So in a nutshell, whatever works.

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      Patricia Bradley

      I so agree, Janice. That’s the way I feel about writing, too. What works for me might not work for you. So whenever I do a writer’s workshop, I always preface it with that statement. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Sonya

    I am not a neat person so for the most part, I work with a mess that surrounds. I guess, though, I have my limits. At certain times, I can not get a thing done until everything is put up and neat!

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  4. Dana Michael

    Patricia, I’m actually purging and getting rid of things that I don’t need and I am in a huge mess. I’ve opened a can of worms. So, my desk and office is a wreck right now.

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  5. Sue Davis Potts

    My workspace is a mess but I am working on it. When I wasn’t getting anything published it didn’t matter so much but now as I am getting busier I find the need to be more organized.

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  6. Sharee

    Laptops have got to be one of the greatest inventions because my writing space is mobile. It’s wherever it’s quietest and that can be the front porch, the basement family room and EEK even the bathroom! 🙂 A perfectly clean desk would be a wonderful thing but pretty improbable in my world.

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      Patricia Bradley

      Laptops are indeed one of the greatest inventions! I usually start out on my deck (weather permitting) then move to my cluttered office where I have to hold Suzy, then to my couch in the living room…after a nap. 🙂 Thanks for your comment Sharee!

  7. Pat Moore

    My desk was always organized clutter. I knew what each stack was for and what needed to be done first. whoa unto anyone that tried to straighten it up.

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  8. Wendy L. Macdonald

    Patricia, I love the view off your back deck/summer office, and your bulletin board wall looks like a wonderful creative space. My work area is tidy right now thanks to a recent overhaul and a purchase of pretty boxes. I don’t mind a mess as long as it’s organized chaos and is surrounded by lovely decorating. Beauty inspires me.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

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  10. Edward Arrington

    I am not an author but a lot of my career was spent in an office. I tend to prefer a neat and orderly work area but it seems the longer I’m in it, the more cluttered it gets. After multiple job changes over a 20-year span, my last office was the least cluttered. I just relied more on being able to find what I needed on the computer rather than printing everything and putting it on my desk or in a file cabinet.

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  11. jackielayton

    I’m impressed with your office. How do you stick the papers on your walls? I’ve got a 3 way cardboard I put notes on as I outline my story.

    I try to have a neat space, but it usually doesn’t last more than 24 hours. I admire people who have neat offices.

    I do have a little room for my office, and I also enjoy writing on my back deck when the weather is right.

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      Patricia Bradley

      Jackie, I have double sided tape. Works really good and is easy to get off the walls. 🙂 Yeah, I know the 24-hour deal, too. Can you tell me how a room can get so messed up in such a short time?

  12. Elaine Stock

    I love your cat! Remember, a neat room can mean no writing is happening so actually, I admire your office 🙂

    I’ll have to pass on the Giveaway thought since I already have the book & happily read it!

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  13. Fay

    My favorite place to work is my backyard. There’s more workspace! I’m the post-it queen my husband says. My notes have notes. Never without an idea, but not enough time to put them all together yet. Thanks for sharing your workspace. I’d feel right at home in there 🙂

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  14. Kyndra Jones

    My ideal place to work would be in my sunroom. Your deck looks awesome to me and I love the big windows! Where I work, if my desk doesn’t look messy, then I am probably not working. But at the end of the day, when I go home, I have to clean up, or I can’t stand it. Whatever works for you is the key! God Bless!

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  15. corinthrose

    Pat, I believe you’d say I was neat and orderly with my photography and creative projects. However, the past six weeks have been dedicated to ten years of digital file maintenance (purging) for this woman, and I do believe you’d change your mind about my living without clutter. Basically, I like to create and work in an orderly environment.

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  16. Anne Payne

    I like a tidy desk. Notice I said ‘like’, not that my desk ‘is’ tidy. Paper clutter seems to find its way onto my desk, along with pony tail holders and hair clips, note cards and stacks of books. 🙂

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  17. carylkane

    Hello Patricia! Thanks for the peek into your writing area. What one might see as clutter another may see as an organized pile. I’m glad you have furry writing companions. 🙂

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  19. Dana

    Wow, I am intrigued by your big plot boards, i always wondered how authors could keep track of everything, thats fascinating! So I guess I would fall into the category of being very well adjusted, need I say more!?! tee hee

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  21. Linnie Peterson

    Working on a novel series, Patricia, I have quite a number of those plot walls of yours happening simultaneously and they are all inter-related so any modification to one affects up to four others…

    Fortunately these are all on a flash drive in a Word document: Master Timeline & Master Plotline & Research. This little trinket, which fits onto a keychain, also contains my, master character file, file and current drafts of all novels in the series, allowing me to use FIND & REPLACE functions within a document or from one document to another.

    That Word document is roughly the length of Hawaii by James A Michener, and growing fast, and I save it to four places at the end of each workday because of the thousands of hours of work it is home to.

    As to your question, my workspace is a small office with an eleven foot desk covering one long wall. The four foot glass section in the middle puts me so close to a small aspen tree outside the window that I can almost touch the birds and squirrels who play there; it is always clean. The end sections are wooden file cabinets, usually cleaner inside than out, but most of the backlog is my personal mess waiting to be filed, not anything to do with writing, plus there is room in one drawer for all that mess to be stashed on the spur of the moment. In between is a cat bed often occupied by one of my three housemates who all share my love of observing life in the little tree.

    My desktop monitor is a small, outdated HD TV with my old CD and DVD players set up on it, and a lot of background material in those formats is hidden away in here too.

    I guess I am well adjusted in life but compulsively organized in writing. Balance in the universe.

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      Patricia Bradley

      I love where you write! Only on my deck do I have any kind of view. 🙂
      I do have those jump drives that I’ve often said contains my life. lol And you sound as compulsive as me about saving stuff everywhere! Thanks fo stopping by Linnie and telling us about your office. Now come organize mine! Pretty please?

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  22. Cynthia Lynn Stigger

    Although I hate clutter, my office is loaded with scraps of paper everywhere with notes of a thought of a new book. Just last week, I went through and stuffed three thirty gallon trash bags with old manuscripts, poems and notes and set them out for the trash man. My favorite place to write is out on my patio that I no longer have

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