10 Things Needed To Set Up A Writing Area

MyComputerAreaWhether it’s a corner in a room or a full-scale office with all the luxuries, every writer needs a writing area. This is the place the writer goes to allow his or her creativity to soar. If you write there every day, especially if you schedule a time to write, you’re training your subconscious that this is the time for you to be creative. This is the time and place for the words to soar.

The important thing is to be creative about your writing space. If you can have an office, that’s great. But there are certain items every writer needs in her writing area.

1. Computer: The days of the typewriter are over. Thank God. Make sure you have a good computer that’s easy for you to use. I recommend a laptop. That way, you don’t have to carry around a jump drive if you’re away from home. An Ipad with a Documents to Go app and a portable keyboard is also a great tool for when you’re on the road.

2. Internet: Internet is essential for writers in today’s world. It gives us marketing tools, email, online writer’s communities, writer’s tip blogs, research at our fingertips, and access to publishers’ and agents’ websites. The only caution here is to schedule when you’ll be on the internet and when you won’t. You may want to schedule a certain chunk of time for the internet. I have the internet running all day, but I only check it once every couple of hours, and if I’m not done writing (unless I’m doing research), I don’t stay on it longer than five minutes.

3. Library: Every writer needs a library that includes writing books, a dictionary, a thesaurus, and books he enjoys reading. Some of these books may be on-line. Some won’t. See this link  and this link  for the books I believe every writer should have.

4. Files: Every writer needs a place she can file research, plot outlines, character sketches, ideas, agent lists, and other important information. Some writers use online files such as MS One Note. Others like hard copies. But you need somewhere to store information.

5. Online computer back-up: Don’t take a chance. Subscribe to an online computer back-up service. They aren’t expensive, and if anything happens, you’ll be covered. Schedule the back-up to automatically back up your files at least once a week.

6. Music: Whether you use an i-pod, your computer, a CD player, or some other device, you’ll want something where you can play music or some kind of white noise. Some writers like it quiet when they work, but even they benefit from listening to music before or after writing. Also invest in a good set of headphones that will be comfortable to wear for hours and will block out most noises including the phone ringing.

7. A comfortable chair: You’ll want a chair where you sit up straight, your feet are flat on the ground, and your back is supported. Don’t prop your laptop on your legs while you type in a recliner. Your back will thank you later.

8. A desk or table: Don’t use one of those portable lap desks unless it’s short term. You need something you can put your computer on even if it’s a card table or a TV table.

9. No distractions: If you really want to escape into the world your writing and let the prose flow, you’ll need an area without television, video games, or a telephone ringing. A door that can be closed is even better.

10. A notebook: Keep a small notebook with you to jot down ideas. If you have an IPad or a memo app on your smart phone, this works even better because it will always be with you. Before you begin writing, record these ideas in your idea folder.

So that all you need to begin writing. Other than the computer, most of these items are free or can be purchased for very little money. Make this investment in your writing career.

My Top 10 Favorite Websites for Writers

Here are a few of my favorite blogs and websites that are invaluable to writers wanting to improve their craft. Some of these sites offer paid memberships or home writing courses for a small fee, but they are worth their weight in gold.

Margie Lawson’s Writing Academy

Margie Lawson has some of the best do it yourself writing courses around at reasonable rates.

My Book Therapy

My Book Therapy offers a writing blog and free membership as well as paid memberships with more intensive workshops.

Seekerville Blog

Seekerville is a writing blog with many Christian authors contributing. It has tons of valuable resources.

The Character Therapist

This blog and site has great information on making your characters more real – quirks and all.


KM Weiland writes this blog with helpful tips for writers. Many other authors also contribute.

The Bookshelf Muse

Author of the Emotional Thesaurus give writers help with description.

Novel Writing Help

Blog posts to help you write your novel step by step.

Beginning Novel Writer’s Tips

This blog does just what it says. It’s a great place to learn the basics of writing.

Author Culture

Various writing tips from many writers, both professional and self-published.

Chip’s Blog

Chip Macgregor, successful literary agent, talks about many areas of the publishing field. It’s a great blog to help you learn the business.


♦ Whoops, I forgot one, so I’m adding it to the end. This is eleventh on the list, but very important.

Advanced Fiction Writing

This website created by RandyIngermanson “the Snowflake guy” and has tons of valuable resources.


10 Simple Ways To Promote Your Blog


1. Create a signature for your email and online forums with a link to your blog.

2. Make use of tags and categories when you make blog posts.

3. Use Facebook network to promote your blog.

4. Create buttons to share blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. If your blog doesn’t do this, you can use addtoany to create share buttons.

5. Comment on other blogs with a link to yours.

6. Share your posts on all social media sites you are a part of.

7. Use hashtags on Twitter when sharing posts there. Click here for a guide on using hashtags.

8. Write reviews using a link to your blog.

9. Write a blog post at least once a week. (Three times a week or everyday is even better.)

10. Have a target audience for your blog and write blog posts that will interest that audience.

How to Format Your Novel or Manuscript


Industry standards on formatting a manuscript change from time to time, and not all publishers agree on formatting. But this is what most publishers consider standard today.

Font: Times New Roman or another standard font in 12 point size.

Page Setup: One inch margins on top, bottom, and both sides.

Line Spacing: Double Spaced

First Page: Centered on Page

First Line: Title in all caps

Second Line:  A Novel by

Third Line:  Author’s Name

Forth Line:  If you have an agent, Agented by

Left Side Header: Name, Address, Phone Number, E-mail Address

Right Side Header: Word Count

Header for Other Pages:  On right side – Last Name/Name of Manuscript/Page Number

Chapter Headings:  Start each new chapter on a new page about 1/3 of the way down the page. Chapter Title should be centered and in all caps. Then double space twice before starting the first paragraph of the chapter.

Paragraphs:  Each new paragraph should be indented 5 spaces.

Scene Changes:  To signify a scene change, type ### or *** centered on the next line. Then start a new paragraph.

Italics: Standards have change concerning italics. They used to have you underline. Now you should place italics in italics.

Spaces between Sentences:  Only use one space, not two, between sentences.

Date or Setting Line at the Beginning of a Scene: If you need to have the date, day, or place at the beginning of a scene, place it in italics and don’t indent. Then start another line for the first paragraph of the scene.

Letters: If you have a letter in the body of your manuscript, indent the letter 10 spaces on each side.

Microsoft Word: If you use Microsoft Word, click here to read more about how to use templates for your manuscript.

Microsoft One Note


Microsoft One Note is a wonderful program for writers that comes free with MS Office 2007. Basically it’s a file folder for all your notes, outlines, research, character sketches, and submissions. There are many ways you can use this program. I’m going to show you how I use it.

For each project (novel, short story, article, etc.), I open a tab. I also have a tab for personal information, blogs, and general research.

Here’s how I set it up for a novel.

Notebook – Novel’s name

Section – Summaries and Outlines

          One Sentence Summary

          One Paragraph Summary

          One Page Synopsis

          Four Page Synopsis

Outline (I don’t use an outline, but if you do, you might place it here make another section depending on how extensive it is.

Section – Misc. (This is for any notes that don’t fit elsewhere)

          Section – Submissions



                    Marketing Plan



Tracking Submissions (On this page I use an Excel Chart, but you don’t have to. Whatever method works for you.’

Section – Research (I keep all my research notes here. When you research on the internet, you can print any internet pages directly to One Note

Section – Characters (I use a multi-section here and have a subsection for each one.

Basic Info

                   Character Synopsis

                   Character Chart

MS One Note can also be used for ideas and future projects. Just open up an ideas notebook. There are countless ways a writer can use MS One Note. Experiment with it and set it up to meet your needs.

Writer Groups On The Web

Here’s a list of Christian Writing Groups on the web that you can join. Some are free and are very good. The ones that cost something, offer more services.

Free Sites and Forums:


Absolute Write (Not Christian, but one of the best writing sites on the web)

Free Yahoo Groups:

The Writer’s View 1 & 2 (When you apply for this group, they’ll decide if you belong in group 1 or 2)

Fellowship of Christian Writers

Agent Of The People (Agent Kelly Mortimer is moderator of this group)

Paid Christian Sites:

ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)

The Christian Guild (Jerry Jenkins is the founder of this group)

CWFI (Christian Writer’s Fellowship International)

Blog Resource – Multi Writer Sites

Here’s some great blogs written by multiple writers.

The Kill Zone: Perspectives From Today Hottest Thriller & Mystery Writers


The Book Doctor


Bustles And Spurs: Inspirational Romance In The Old West


Author Culture


Petticoats & Pistols: Romancing The West


Where The Map Ends: The Home Of Christian Speculative Fiction


A Novel Writing Site




Faith Chicks


The Master’s Artist

Blog Resource – Agent/Publisher Blogs

Here’s a list of some helpful agent blogs for writers:

Nathan Bransford

Chip MacGregor

Miss Agent Manners (Jennifer Jackson)

Pub Rants (Agent Kristin)

The Rejector

The Writing Life (Terry Whalin)

Zondervan Blog

From Where I Sit (Mike Hyatt, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Rants and Ramblings (Rachel Gardner)

Hartline Literary Blog

Blog Resource – Emotion, Symbolism, Color, Setting

This week, I’m posting a few blog resources for writers. I’ve been looking at different ways to describe emotions and setting. I ran across a great new resource I’m sharing today. The Bookshelf Muse at this link has hundred of thesaurus lists for writers. It has become an Internet Resource I use almost every day especially during the editing stage of my writing. You really do need to check this one out.

Here’s a list of a few of the resources available on this site:

Emotion Thesaurus

  • What is an Emotion Thesaurus?
  • Expressing Cardinal Emotions: Male vs. Female
  • Amusement
  • Anger
  • Annoyance
  • Anticipation
  • Confidence/Pride
  • Confusion
  • Contentment
  • Curiosity
  • Desperation
  • Disappointment
  • Disgust
  • Embarrassment
  • Enthusiasm
  • Excited/Elated
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Guilt
  • Happiness/Joy
  • Hatred
  • Haughty/Smug/Superior
  • Hopeful
  • Humble/Meek/Shy
  • Impatience
  • Indifference
  • Indignation
  • Jealousy
  • Love & Attraction
  • overwhelmed
  • Powerless/Defeated
  • Relief
  • Reluctance
  • Resentful/Sullen
  • Resigned
  • Sadness/Grief
  • Satisfaction
  • Shame
  • Shock/Surprise
  • Somber
  • Stubbornness
  • Sympathy/Empathy
  • Uncertainty/Unconvinced
  • Unease
  • Wariness
  • Worry
  • Wounded/Hurt
  • Addendum: Defensive
  • Addendum: Desire
  • Addendum: Doubt
  • Addendum: Energetic
  • Addendum: Exhaustion
  • Addendum: Fatigue
  • Addendum: Hunger
  • Addendum: Loneliness
  • Addendum: Pain (physical/emotional)
  • Addendum: Sarcasm/Verbal Disrespect

Setting Description Thesaurus

  • What is a Setting Description Thesaurus?
  • Abandoned Mine
  • Alley
  • Amusement Park
  • Attic
  • Bakery
  • Basement
  • Bathroom (home)
  • Barn
  • Barn 2 Dairy focus
  • Beach
  • Bedrooms
  • Cafeteria
  • Casino
  • Cave
  • Church
  • City Park
  • Classroom
  • Closet
  • Coffee shop
  • Deserts
  • Diner
  • Elevator
  • Farms
  • Forest
  • Frozen Tundra
  • Garage
  • Garage Sale
  • Garden
  • Graveyard
  • Grocery Store
  • Haunted House
  • High School Hallway
  • Hospital
  • Hotel Room
  • Kitchen
  • Laboratory
  • Libraries
  • Locker Room
  • Meadow
  • Mountains
  • Movie Theatre
  • Night Club
  • Ocean/Sea Bed
  • Old Pick-up Truck
  • Pirate Ship
  • Playground
  • Pond
  • Pool Hall
  • Prison Cell
  • Pub
  • Public Pool (Outdoor)
  • Rainforest/Jungle
  • Ranch
  • Restaurants
  • Rivers
  • School Bus
  • School Office
  • Shopping Mall
  • Sleep-away Camp
  • Spaceport
  • Space Ship
  • Stands at a Sporting Event
  • Subway Station
  • Swamp
  • Toolshed
  • Treehouse
  • Urban Street
  • Video Arcade
  • Waiting Room
  • Waterfall
  • Water Slide Park
  • Zoo

Color, Textures and Shapes Thesaurus

  • What is a Color, Texture and Shape Thesaurus?
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Brown
  • Gray
  • Gold
  • Green
  • Orange
  • Pink
  • Purple
  • Red
  • Silver
  • Spotted
  • Striped
  • Transparent
  • White
  • Yellow
  • Bumpy
  • Crackled
  • Crumbly
  • Crusty
  • Foamy/Spongy
  • Fuzzy
  • Gritty
  • Pitted
  • Powdery
  • Prickly
  • Slimy
  • Smooth
  • Sticky
  • Arch
  • Barbed/Spined
  • Circular/Sphere
  • Crescent
  • Heart
  • Oval & Oval-like
  • Rectangle
  • Saw-edged/Serrated
  • Spiral
  • Star
  • Square
  • Triangular
  • Tube
  • Wavy

Symbolism Thesaurus

  • What is a Symbolism Thesaurus?
  • Alienation
  • Death
  • Teamwork

Resources For Nineteenth Century Historical Research

Here’s a list of Internet resources you can use when researching your historical novel.

Calendars and Timelines:

Calendar For Any Year

19th Century Timeline

Inventions Timeline for the 19th Century

The Food Timeline

A Timeline of 19th Century America

Historical Resource Sites:

Oden’s Castle


19th Century America – Maps, Timelines, & Documents

Bustles And Spurs


A 19th Century Slang Dictionary

How To Speak 19th Century

Western Slang and Phrases

Old West Legends – Slang


Old and Interesting


Railroad Maps

Stagecoach Travel

How Fast Could They Travel?

Horse, Saddles, & Guns:

Saddles & Tacks

Gun Information Society

Horse Sense

Real Guns


20,000 + Names From Around the World

Popular Given Names (1800-1999)

Victorian Era Names


19th Century Fashion

19th Century Wardrobe

19th Century Victorian Clothing

Fashion Era

Gentleman’s Emporium

This list is not exhaustive by any means, but hopefully it will give you a good start in your research. If you have any resources you’d like to add to the list, please leave a comment and share.