It’s Monday, and, folks, there is shit to do.
No more excuses. The world might be content to hover just out of view for a little while, but that grace period only extends so far. From depression to less than savvy time management skills, from too many projects to too few, there just isn’t enough time in the day to keep sorting through the whys and why-nots.
It’s you and me, today. We’ve got projects to work on. Let’s make this happen.
Those of you who are lucky enough to have a public place where you write—Starbucks, Panera’s, so on—can ignore this part. You’re fortunate in that you’ve ceded control of your environment and have, rather cleverly, acclimated to having one less worry on your plate. Congratulations! (This is where I ask if anyone’s had coffee spilled on their computer yet…)
For us fiscally conservative, space-eating, and/or easily distracted types, we must make do with our own offices. Whether a rented room, a spare room, a corner of the bed- or dining room, it’s important that the space we choose has all the necessities we need.
Your milage may vary—only you can decide what’s necessary, what’s fluff, and what’s downright unnecessary in your space. I’ll talk about the things I need, as opposed to the things I want. Or what I currently have.
- the basics: computer and working, comfortable keyboard, ergonomic mouse;
- small hot-plate to keep my cup of [warm drink of choice] from going cold;
- cup of [warm drink of choice]—don’t judge me, it’s a crutch I haven’t bothered trying to break;
- space on desk to spread out notes, stack books, sign papers;
- desk calendar;
- comfy, non-back-breaking chair;
- space on the walls to hang my various plot-boards;
- room for the bunnies to wander around in;
and yet, I have:
- the basics, as above;
- requisite drink at any given time;
- absolutely zero space among all the clutter, piles of discarded packing paper, and various acclimated bric-a-brac;
- desk calendar almost half a year out of date;
- good chair in need of a good Febreeze to get the “my animals love my chair more than me” smell out;
- space on the wall for one plot board, and two more taking up space on the floor;
- too much clutter for the bunnies to resist chewing.
Here’s my issue—how, in fact, I roll: I always intend to be a lot cleaner and tidier than I am. According to my astrological mash-up, both Virgos and Libras prefer tidy to clutter, clean to unclean, hygiene to… uh, lack of hygiene.
One out of three is pretty bad.
The fact of my list is that I want to have a cleaner, tidier, more organized space than I actually have. It’s nicer-looking. Homier. More comfortable. I’m vain as hell, people. I want my office to be freaking awesome.
…to the Reality
But that’s not the point. That’s not the helpful part.
The reason you—you who can’t write in public—want to arrange your writing space comes down to sheer organization. Efficiency. I can’t tell you how many times I told myself at the beginning of every book, “Take a moment, write a series bible, arrange each one on the desk within reach.”
I didn’t. Instead, as my desk grew more and more cluttered, I ended up spending more time looking for details in previous books when I could have, had I been smart, flipped open the nearest informational binderand gotten what I needed there. My desk calendar ended up buried under junk, and I’ve gotten close to missing a deadline or two because I was, at the time, too lazy to fix the problem.
The simple fact, aesthetics aside, is that if you intend to write with any degree of prolific efficiency, you have got to think ahead, and that includes keeping your writing space as organized as you can handle.
I’m designating today—this week!—as “get your space together” day. It’s kind of like No Pants Day, but with less joy. Frankly, I despise cleaning. I blame my mother, who was such a control-cleaner that I permanently rebelled.
That said, I intend to rectify at least a small part of my writing space issue. My office needs to be navigable at a glance. (I should get bonus points for “navigable”.) I need to be able to operate in this space at least 8 hours a day, maximize my productivity and minimize the frustration that builds when I reach for something—a book, a note scribbled on the back of an envelope, an info binder, anything—and nearly lose a hand to the cavernous maw of Lovecraftian proportion now taking up the central portion of my space.
You! You make sure that you have everything you need in your space. I don’t care if it’s pillows for a fort to protect you from the gremlins living in your home, or if it’s a bucket of cold water at any given point (useful for waking up with, pouring on overly attentive significant others who don’t understand “deadline mania”, and feuding children). Figure out what your project, your method, needs. Make it happen.
Even if you don’t get it all set up now, get it started. If you can’t afford new binders for your series project, improvise. Can’t find a good space heater, grab some blankets and fuzzy socks. Need more pens? Get more pens. Arrange the furniture. Maximize the light. Make it comfortable. Make it yours.
You’re going to be spending hours at a time in this place. It’s going to become a chore. It will get harder, the more words that are expected of you, the closer you get to the mid-points or the climax or the beginning sentence.
The least you can do for yourself is make sure you don’t find a reason to fail before you start.
I’m going to clean my office today. How about we make a day of it together?
It’s like bookporn, but for space.
Send me your photos! Snap a picture of your writing space—a “view from here”, if you will. You can do a before & after, or a before, or an after (just let me know which is which!). You can enter the contest in one of several ways:
- Tweet it with the hashtag #authorspace!
- Facebook it and tag me in the post!
- Email it to me!
- Pinterest it and tag me in the description! (If this doesn’t work, then just tweet, facebook or email me the link. I’ve set up a Pinterest board to collect the ones I find!)
You have until Sunday, December 16th, 6pm PST, to get in your photos. You do not need to be in the photo. You can be. I’d love to see you. But you don’t have to be. If you’re a public-space sort of writer, this counts, too! Send them in.
I want to see where you write.
Next You Better Work Monday, I’ll showcase the before and afters of my own office, and I’ll display some of my favorites from the tweeted, Facebooked, Pinterested and emailed photos.
I’ll pick three winners to win signed copies of Tarnished, in honor of Gilded's release December 26th.
What do you say?
For Shameless Promotion Tuesday, I’ll have an uber-fabulous announcement regarding the next two books in the Dark Mission series, so do not miss this.