Wednesday, December 5, 2018

IWSG: Five Objects in Your Writing Space

It's the first Wednesday of the month which means it's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy and networking. If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.

The awesome co-hosts for the December 5 posting of the IWSG are J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker , Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey! Be sure to check out what they have to say, too!

December 5 question - What are five objects we'd find in your writing space?

So, I had to laugh when I saw the question this month because I literally just posted about making a writing space for myself LAST WEEK. I'm so excited about having a "room of my own" at long last! I totally don't mind talking about this some more.

Our house didn't really have an available space that I could claim solely for writing until the beginning of this school year, when the eldest left for college. Since then, I've been transforming the room that had been the youngest child's bedroom into an office for me.

It'll be a slow go. Remodeling takes time and money, two things I am perennially short on, since the two things I do for a living (teaching and writing) both pay rather poorly, at least in dollars.

But I am already using the space in its transitional phase and am thrilled to show you five objects from my writing space.

First, there are plants. I've never been particularly good at raising house plants, but I love having pieces of nature around me, so I'm trying to raise some house plants in my new space. I can breathe better when I'm among plants (literally and figuratively). They calm me with their silent beauty.

The room has a large window with good light and so far my three botanical guests are thriving. I have some purple Wandering Jew transplanted from my outdoor plant before the frost killed it. Since I'm vaguely Jewish myself, and a bit of a wanderer, this purple leaved beauty seemed a natural choice.

On her last visit, my mom got me a Christmas cactus. It's beautiful! And hard to kill, or so I'm told.

Lastly, I have a red begonia purchased from the kids in the gardening club at my middle school. Our science teacher is a wonder with plants and I get the benefit of that with inexpensive plants that our shared students have had a hand in. 

The view out the window right now is of a back yard full of fallen and falling leaves and winter-baring branches, so I've got a taste of Mother Nature out there, too. Sitting in here the other night when it was raining was an absolute joy.

Second, is Franklin. He's my compart-amus: a hippopotamus foot stool, with a hidden compartment.

He holds my tea on his flat back, my post-it notes and pens inside, and sometimes my poor achy feet at the end of the work day.

Occasionally my dog has been known to cuddle up to him, too.

I spotted him online and knew he was the right blend of useful and whimsical to make my office feel like my own space. Isn't he cute?

Next is my Irish shawl. I'm at that phase of life where my temperature gauge is unreliable. I go from hot to cold and back again in endless cycles that can make it hard to stay physically comfortable and focused on my words.

I'm a fan of shawls rather than jackets or sweaters. They are flexible, letting me cover whatever part of me might need covering at any given moment. They're beautiful and soft, making me feel feminine and glamorous even if I'm wearing my Punisher tee shirt and holey sweatpants underneath.

When I was earning my Master's from Bread Loaf School of English, I was fortunate in that I was able to spend a summer semester at Oxford. I admired shawls like this one, but didn't have the budget to buy one.

But my mom--champion of thrift and yard sale shopping--found one for me at an estate sale, which I have treasured and cuddled ever since. 

Fourth is my planning chart. After reading parts of the DIY-MFA book by Gabriela Pereira earlier this year, this lifelong pantser decided to try a kind of outlining.  (Gasp! Shock!)

Ms. Pereira calls this technique "scene cards." For each scene, you make a card (I used color coded post-it notes: orange for Kye'luh; green for Jason; and gold for Malcolm, my three POV characters; and pink ones for revision or other random thoughts I don't want to lose) and record four pieces of information for each scene/chapter:

  • a title for the scene
  • the major players
  • the action
  • the purpose (structurally)
I gave this a go at a summer writing retreat, making a descriptive outline of what I had already written by the seat of my pants, and using it to identify holes and make plans for the rest of the book. I was stuck big time, and I figured it couldn't hurt. 

It's really helping me visualize the work. And finally having a wall of my own that's not in the middle of family traffic is a delight because I can hang my chicken-scratch mess up and not feel bad about leaving an eyesore for others. 

Lastly:  my lamp. 

Another great thing about having my own writing space is having control over the light. 

I like soft, warm light, generally not blaring down on me from above. I get enough bright, painful lighting at school, thanks. 

This lamp is a creation of my Mom and Dad's. He wired the metal tropical fern sculpture for electricity and she affixed the Tiffany-esque light fixture atop, combining several of my favorite things into one unique piece to light my writing space and remind me of the love and support my family gives me in these endeavors.

So even though I still have remnants of the Disney princess border, an odd pink stripe that was left when I removed the moulding, ugly carpet that came with the house, and cutesy flowered wallpaper, the room already feels welcoming and right. I've found renewed productivity having my own space. 

What's in the space where you create? What do you wish you could have? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 


  1. My grandmother-in-law gave me a Christmas cactus and so far, I seem to be doing a wonderful job at killing it. I love plants—I really do. I just don't seem particularly good at keeping them alive.

    Love your footstool. I just use a box of printer paper. And I really love planning boards. I find them just so useful for finding and filling in those plot holes. Glad to hear you're finding it helpful.

    1. They might turn out to be a game-changer for me, like a daily writing habit was.

  2. I would like plants around me for writing, but I am super good at killing plants, so it's not a good idea.

    1. I don't have a great history with houseplants either, but I'm trying again. The light, at least, is good in this space.

  3. I love the footstool. Hidden compartment, huh. That makes him even more special in my books. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  4. Those are all wonderful things. Can't see what it looks like when you get around to renovating because it's already amazing.

    1. Thanks! I'm hoping to peel the wall paper and paint the walls during my winter break.

  5. What a lovely space. Having your own place is so empowering. Love the lamp. Thanks for mentioning plants. I don't have a place for plants in the main living area, but my office (which I plan to use more) has a big window with a good size ledge--perfect for plants.

    1. It's already making a difference to have a designated space, if only to my mindset when I'm there. I hope you find some plants that please you!

  6. There's so much I love about this post. First, your parents sound awesome! Love the lamp, the shawl, the windows, and Franklin! I would have scooped up Franklin in a heartbeat.

    I love that this space is so you. I write in various places, including the couch and the bathtub, but I have to say, I envy your view.

    1. It's already clear that I'm really going to like having my own space.

  7. Congratulations on getting a space and taking time to make it yours! I am in the process of repurposing my office as I have finally retired from a full time job which was truly filling all the crevices of of my life. so far I am just thinking about how I want it. Lighting seems to be the first thing I want to change :-)

    1. Lighting makes all the difference in how a space feels.

  8. I can't comment on the FB post sooo. I LOVE FRANKLIN!
    I have a nice little dragon holding a die and currently a mess. A close candle. Two pairs of headphones. Lotion...yeah I'll stop there.

  9. That is such a beautiful lamp. I love it!