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.

Do You Have a Schedule?

Do you have a schedule? I don’t mean just for writing, but for every important part of your life.

I heard a preacher say recently that those who have a scheduled time for prayer and a prayer list will pray 90% more than those who don’t. I assume that’s also true for writing, spending quality time with family, and even doing housework.

I live by my schedule. I don’t always follow it. When things come up, I throw it out the window for a short time. But I always come back to it. I find being scheduled makes me productive and helps me focus on the important things of life and not just the urgent.

Here’s a few tips in making a schedule.

Don’t make a micro-schedule with every event listed. Have clumps of times to do things that are similar. For instance, do all office work (bills, phone calls, etc.) at the same time.

Have a daily to do list, a weekly schedule, a monthly calendar, and yearly goals. The schedule determines when you do certain types of activities. The to do list has specific tasks listed according to your schedule. The monthly calendar lists appointments. The yearly goals will bring focus to what you want to schedule. All are important.

Be flexible. If something interferes with your schedule, adapt the schedule. The schedule is meant to serve you, not the other way around.

Have a weekly planning session. This will help you stay on task.

Always allow more time to do tasks then you think you’ll need. This will keep you from getting frustrated when interruptions come.

Don’t only schedule urgent things. Schedule important things such as prayer time, writing time, time with family, and personal time.

If you fail to follow your schedule, don’t beat yourself up. The schedule is there to help you not to dictate your life. If you can’t follow it, tweak it to work with your energy cycles. If you fall away from it for a few days of weeks, just dust it off and do it again.  You’ll still be further ahead then when you didn’t schedule your time.

Organizing For Writers: Resources Needed

One key to organization is having the right resources. Here’s some I think are essential to a writer.

Laptop computer: If you have a laptop, you can take it wherever you go. You don’t have to worry about if a computer will be available or about transferring files. It’s all right there.

Microsoft Word: Microsoft Word is the standard word processing program for professionals. When you send e-files to publishers and agents, they will most likely want you to send those files in Microsoft Word. This link  and this link  give some hints on how writers can use MS Word.

Notebook: You need a notebook and a pen that you can take everywhere with you. You never know when inspiration will strike.

Printer: A good laser printer is worth it’s weight in gold.

Three Ring Binder: After finishing your novel, print it out to edit it and place it in a 3 ring binder. You’ll also need a hole punch for this.

Red Pen: Essential tool for editing.

Good Chair: If your backside or back is hurting, it will be difficult to get your daily word count done.

Computer Desk: If you have a laptop, get a portable laptop desk.

These items, while not essential, are great to have.

Writing Software: There’s some great writing software out there that is absolutely free. If you’re an outliner, I recommend Y-Writer. If you don’t outline, you’ll still need a program to keep track of your notes, characters, and research. I recommend MS One Note. If you have MS Office, you probably already have One Note on your computer. I also recommend Writer Tools. This is an add-on feature for MS Word and has lots of nifty tools such as a search for clichés and an ly finder.

Writing Books: There are some great books on the craft of writing out there. Here and here are a few of my favorites.

Internet: The Internet is a great tool for research and marketing. It also has many blogs like this one that will teach you the craft of writing. When you’re ready to get published, the Internet will help you research publishers and agents.

Planning Board: This is basically a bulletin board where you can tack maps, story boards, and anything else you might need at your fingertips.

Related Posts:

Computer Tips For Organizing Your Writing

10 Things Needed To Set Up A Writing Area

Organizing For Writers: Writing Schedule

Some writers balk at writing schedules. They believe since writing is a creative activity, they should write when the muse strikes them. If writing is a hobby and nothing more, this half-hazard way of approaching is fine. But if you have plans do be a professional writer than you should do what professionals have done to succeed. Most professional writers schedule their writing time. Peter DeVries once said, “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.” Stephen King writes every day until he’s achieved a certain word count. Dean Koontz has a regular time where he goes into his office to write.

There are many ways to plan and organize your writing schedule to be more effective. Here’s some ideas to help you.

Set a Writing Time: It’s easier to be productive when you set the same time to write every day. Make sure the time you set is a time when you are fresh and ready to work. For some, that means getting up early. Others will want to stay up late. Do what works for you.

Set Writing Goals: Some writers set a daily word count. They will not stop writing until that word count is accomplished. Other writers do better when they decide how much time they’re going to write. They might write longer, but they’ll at least write that certain amount of time.

Compartmentalize Your Writing: If you’re writing on more than one project, decide what time you’ll devote to each project. For instance, you might want to write all of your blog posts for the week and journal on Mondays. Tuesdays and Wednesdays you could devote to your novel. Thursdays would be short stories and magazine articles. Fridays you could devote to editing or outlining and researching your next novel. Or you might be the type of person who writes every day on one project until it’s finished. Then you’ll start the next project. Again do what works best for you.

Editing: Decide how you’re going to edit. Some writers edit while they are writing. Others wait until the first draft is finished to do all of their editing. There’s no right or wrong way, but decide which works best for you and stick to it. 

Every worth while thing in life takes persistance and discipline. This is true with the discipline of writing as well.

Computer Tips For Organizing Your Writing

Here are some ideas for organinizing your writing on your computer.

MS OneNote: OneNote is one of the best tools for organizing your writing. If you have MS Office 2007, you probably already have it on your computer. If not, you can buy it and download it here. Here’s a link that will tell you all the ways you can use OneNote to organize your writing, research, outlines, character sketches, and submissions. This program is a must have for writers.

Folders: Every computer comes with the ability to make folders and subfolders under your documents file. Just right click on your documents folder and click new folder. Then drag the appropriate documents to that folder. You can get as general or specific as you want with these folders, but always have a separate folder for each project. Here’s an example of folders you can use to organize your documents:

My Documents

Personal

Household

Christmas

Writing

Ideas

Non-fiction

Fiction

Short Stories

Novels

Series 1

Novel 1 (Here you should save a copy of each draft of your novel along with each chapter or scene in a separate document.)

Preplanning (Here’s where you put outlines, character sketches, research, etc.)

Submissions (Here you can lists of agents and publishers, proposals, query letters, and synopsis.)

Novel 2

 

Calendar and Contact Program: If you’re still using your Google or Yahoo account to organize your email, you’re not taking full advantage of all a program like Outlook (There are other programs that work as well, but I’m most familiar with Outlook) has to offer. You can have your email go directly to Outlook. You can have separate folders for mail relating to your writing projects.

When you submit a project to a publisher, save the email under your project folder. Categorize it with a color: yellow for submission, green for additional submissions, red for rejection. Then place a follow-up flag on it to alert you when you should have heard something back. That way, you don’t have to fool with spreadsheets and tables to track you submissions.

Also Outlook has a feature where you can customize your signature with taglines and blog addresses. You can add more than one signature and have them specifically for personal email, email to writing contacts, and email to publishers or agents.