Writing Tips

Writing Tips: What’s On Your Desk?

As I moved the past few days, I got to reorganize and rediscover all of my old trinkets (or junk.)

Surprisingly, I had a lot of fun. I thought a lot about what my characters would find while moving, and I think that’s a great writing prompt to mess around with (I sure tried it out.) My favorite part, however, was recreating my writing space–clearing my desk before covering it all over again.

Interestingly enough, not much changed about my setup. The same objects were there, but they switched around (And that does help–believe it or not.) While doing this,Β I thought I’d share my work space, so you can see what keeps me ticking or even compare it to your own.


I ALWAYS have my coffee (in fact, I spilt it all over my desk five minutes after taking this picture) and my basket of pens on the right. Behind that, you’ll see the boat frame. The picture is of my late mother. The statue on the left is a Demdaco Mother-Daughter statue I received at her funeral. I like to keep them close, because they push me forward. At the top of my desk, I have a photo of my brother and father, because they also inspire me to do my best.Β They remind me why I’m passionate.Β 

Everything else included from left to right: Dictionary, Encyclopedia, camera, flowers, book statue, more pens (because you can never have too many), iPod, stapler, notebooks, November Snow, Chapstick, gum, candles, nail polish, tacks, printer ink, and my outside computer drive (Something all writers should have.)

What do you have on your desk? How does it keep you writing and dreaming? Does anything distract you? When do you spend your time there? Where’s your writing space?

Think about how you could improve your writing space (or how you’ve already improved it.) I’d love to hear what your writing space is like as we can all learn from one another.


43 thoughts on “Writing Tips: What’s On Your Desk?

  1. I like your desk! I live in a rented unit, and don’t have a desk with an inbuilt shelf, but I have it under a window sill, and have photos of my family on the sill. I have a few reference books on my desk (as I am a professional editor), an in-tray which I very occasionally sort through, a vase (gift of my mother many years ago, marble from her trip to Greece), my computer and router, of course, a little desk fan for steamy days, and an old lamp base (also a gift of my mother) with a very kitsch velvet flower, bright pink with a lollipop green stem, bearing the word “congratulations”; a gift to me from my supervisor when I passed my PhD. have you every spilt your coffee, or worse, a glass of wine, on your computer keyboard? I have, but I’m more careful now I have my lovely Macbook Air.

    1. Your desk sounds lovely. I bet the Greece vase is beautiful.
      Thankfully, I’ve always missed my computer when spilling drinks. I’m really clumsy, so I try to be careful, but it happens now and then despite that.

  2. You have the same computer as me and the same coffee mug. Although that coffee mug (well, the contents at least) was the cause of my last computer’s demise.

  3. Oh my goodness Shannon your desk makes me want to cry, it’s so organized 😦 I moved In August last year, and my desk is still a total bombsite! It’s not the ideal workspace as hubby uses it too – I’d love to have my own area, and your post has encouraged me to at least get this one tidied and work towards my own little writing santuary! X

    1. I should be honest: My desk isn’t always that clean. Ha. It normally has four coffee mugs on it, scattered papers, and books stacked to my head. It’s only so clean now, because I recently moved, and the move was a great opportunity to reorganize.
      But good luck on reorganizing your desk! I bet it will help. My cleaning sure did. I feel better about using it now (as I was struggling before.)

    1. I like going other places to write rather than my desk as well. (Especially during my school year when I spend my homework time at my desk.) Love your page. Your writing space is beautiful, and that lamp is some great lighting.

    2. I agree with you Linda. I prefer writing on my bed these days…partly because I lost a couple of kg last Christmas (because I was writing) and it feels like I’m sitting on bones when I sit on chairs these days (especially my writing chair)

  4. Always coffee! I think it’s a prerequisite of being a writer to be a coffee addict haha. I’m a scribbler, always jotting things down in notebooks, on random pieces of paper, napkins etc so I usually have those things next to my laptop as well. I end up with papers everywhere!

  5. When we moved into our new home here in western PA, I finally bought the writing desk of my of dreams. I’m surrounded on three sides by desk. One side has three book shelves with all my reference materials. When I’m on my laptop, I face the window (where it’s snowing right now). I have two containers of pens and pencils. The bulletin board in front of me has a picture of my daughter and my husband and all around me are tiny trinkets placed strategically so wherever I turn my chair, I’m gazing at something personal and meaningful. This morning I decided I needed to see the books I’ve published in the past 12 years, so I took my proof copies and put them between bookends on my desk. That motivates me because I know I can write books, and it’s my inspiration to continue. I love your description of your writing space. Thanks for post at such a timely moment for me.

    1. WOW! Your desk sounds absolutely lovely!
      I think it’s really important to keep the inspiration at your desk, because sometimes the inspiration sneaks away from us on our bad days, and we don’t want those moments to linger any longer than they have to. Your bulletin board, your window, and your proof copies…they all sound so great!
      I hope to have a desk as beautiful as yours one day.

  6. I totally agree that one’s working space is a crucial thing and even though I’m kind of a messy person I simply love tidying it up or rearrange things;)
    I don’t have a desk, but a big old wooden table (where 8 people could easily have their dinner together).
    All my drawing and writing stuff is close at hand and the wall is cluttered with my own drawings (which I’m regularly replacing with new ones) and pictures of my favorite authors!
    Last but not least, there’s a cozy blanket on which one of my three cats always sits and purrs – it’s heaven!:)

  7. Thank you for the blog idea. I have a double major in Music and Psychology and a minor in Writing. With the Psychology I very much focused all my spare time zeroing in on learning and creativity. I have a few things to say about being able to get things done. Basically, creating a regular pattern for yourself where you have a certain time and place that is exclusively for, say, writing, will help immensely to make things flow.

    For example, I have trained myself immediately on waking to start coffee, boot my computer, glance at my e-mail, pour a cup, and start writing my blog at my desk. The sheer regularity β€” the rut β€” has allowed me to effortlessly write a new blog article every day without fail since November 10 of last year. Ideally not only would the time be sacred but also the place, a place where one is actively writing and if one becomes distracted one would immediately leave the writing area. It becomes magical, and I have read even occult texts which support this notion of “polarizing” a specific location for meditation.

    I remember in a class called “The Psychology of Sex” where the professor insisted that male impotence could best be cured, given a psychological cause, to have a special room with a special bed with a specific perfume where only sexual activity would happen, where you would not even know the person outside the sexual activity. He claimed that this would make for the most effective purely and reliable sexual performance, minimizing or eliminating impotence. Naturally this is not accounting for the possibility of genuine physical problems.

    So inspiration be damned, the same time, the same place, the same ritual will provide consistent output whether one is writing words, music, having sex, building model airplanes, meditating, whatever. If you want focus and efficacy, there are methodical ways to get results. Talent and training are obvious givens as well.

    So thank you for your time and patience as I write a sketch for a blog. I must now copy and paste this to my ever-growing blog idea file.

  8. I love this post, Shannon! I am currently writing one of three memoir manuscripts entitled “Calamity Becomes Her.” In this manuscript covering the summer of ’95, I take an adventurous trip from Beantown to L.A. Albert the Running Bear, a childhood teddy bear accompanies me and many times, is mentioned in my travels. Naturally, Albert is sitting on my desk and is a source of inspiration (I also have him slated for the book cover)!

  9. Love this post! And to answer your question, I have currently three writing spaces:
    1. Formal – My office and a big desk. It used to be my son’s baby room, so the decor is NOT what I want. But at least the desk has plenty of room and it’s quiet. This is where I get serious work done. When I need to research and read new essays for understanding, I have to be in there where I know I won’t be disturbed.

    2. Blogging and Emailing: My sofa by the fire. That’s where I am now. We have MLK Day off work so I am happily sitting on the sofa. πŸ™‚

    3. Places like roller rinks, where I can sit and study or grade or write while my son skates. I’ve actually gotten a lot of quality work accomplished there because there is nothing else to do BUT the work I bring. It’s so loud, but it almost becomes white noise.


    1. I actually LOVE environments with “white noise,” because singular music ends up distracting me (I concentrate on the lyrics and lose my concentration on my words.) So it’s funny you mention that, because a lot of people always come up to me and ask how I could get anything done with all of the noise.
      Enjoy that sofa & your day off.

  10. When I write fiction, I prefer to curl up on my bed with the laptop and a drink on the nightstand, an just be comfortable. For some reason, I can’t get “in the mood” in my studio.

    The studio is great for blogging (though I will blog from the laptop if the mood strikes while I am there), but the set up in there is mostly for photography-related tasks. I DO love the huge monitors in there.

    Right now, we’re in a state of flux, as I have closed the portrait section of my studio down and only do commercial and landscape photography, so we are re-allocating part of the studio space to other things. As me again in six months, LOL…

    YOUR writing space makes me GREEN with envy. If I had to take a picture of my desk in the studio, everyone would be mortified that I could function in such a mess, LOL…

  11. Currently on my desk I have two empty bowls, a phone, several receipts, two notebooks, a ziplock bag containing a piece of Toblerone chocolate, a flipcam … and some unopened mail from my bank. I’m slightly disorganized πŸ˜€

  12. This came at the perfect time, because my desk is becoming too cluttered, and I think it IS distracting me. Time to clean it up. Its funny–I’m so organized in other aspects of my life, but I let my desk get the best of me.

    Thanks for stopping by my site. I appreciate it!

  13. There’s something very motivational about your posts – thanks! My computer desk exists happily in front of the window overlooking an awful lot of snow currently. As I have only a small room in a shared house there’s not too much scope but it’s cosy and warm apart from by the computer desk lol an unexplained draught drives me to the opposite side of the room on top of the chest of drawers in this weather! It’s pretty sparse usually as everything is put away at the end of the night inc laptop. Usually it consists of the laptop, the mobiles – my “notebooks” when I’m out and about and inspiration strikes – very rare at the mo’ but you know how it goes…the mobile broadband stick, external hard drive, and some memory sticks are usually scattered around and occasionally a little used notebook can be found on the bed by the desk. There’s a digital radio too, but that has to sit on the opposite side of the room or the laptop interferes with it and it produces no sound! And that’s about it! Now all I need is inspiration and some self discipline to sit down and write in ernest!! I NEVER have a cup of tea/coffee nearby! That is sorted downstairs and is the only thing that drags me away from the laptop!

  14. Your neat work space amazes me. My own desk looks like a war zone. Papers, dictionary, notes jotted down on napkins while I was out, the obligatory coffee mug, pens, my idea book, and dolls. I recently took my BJD doll hobby and started outfitting dolls to be the characters from my books. A lot of fun, and inspirational as well to see a physical representation of a character I have had only in my head.

  15. It’s funny you posted your picture because I did the same on my last post. My family recently bought our first house, and I was able to snag half of a room as an office. I like to keep my desk as clutter-free as possible, but I do keep quite a few trinkets–my favorite of which is my Darth Vader pen. I keep the coffee close by, and my favorite writing books slotted into the cubbies. Thanks for sharing your space!

  16. My table used to be cluttered till I met my boyfriend and then I realized I write better in an arranged environment (he’s a sucker for cleanliness). Also, I live in a Caribbean Island at the moment so I have a pretty nice view of my street from my window ( not of the sea) but when I was doing the outline for my novel, I did it in seaside restaurants which helped with inspiration. But right now, my favorite writing space is on my bed, cross-legged, with a pillow to prop up my laptop.

  17. Thanks for following me, and for telling us about your desk, and all the important elements of it. I haven’t had a writing desk since I left home, but it was a lovely one my Dad made. These days I move between sitting at the dining table, standing by the food shelf, or lying in bed (the only warm places here are the kitchen or under the blankets).

    Instead of an external hard-drive, I’ve started recently uploaded my files to Google Drive – which makes it easy to transfer them between multiple computers ^^

  18. Your desk definitely much neater than mine but as another mentioned, it is also used for a variety on things. So the couch, dining table usually work best for me πŸ˜‰

  19. Funny thing is that I have a full-sized writer’s desk that I made in high school woodshop, but it was taken over by my wife’s scrapbooking. Figured this was a better idea for now because she needed space and I work exclusively on a laptop. So, my current ‘desk’ is the dining room table where I can look into the backyard on one side and watch my son play in the living room. Not the most private area, but I’ve managed to get a lot of work done there so far.

  20. Really interesting! Your post actually reminds me of the new commercials that came out about this new computer security system. The person places items and trinkets that have sentimental value to them, and then in the center, they place the laptop. It definitely tells a lot about that person just like how your desk does so.

    This post, though, really makes me want to clean up my desk and rearrange everything on my desk back home. My desk in my apartment is mostly covered in electronics, neatly arranged and precisely placed, whereas, my desk at my parents’ house is covered in books and papers, cluttered, dusty, and with no real arrangement. Interesting contrast, right? I write better in my precisely arranged technological environment.

  21. Great post and I love your writing space, Shannon! In my apartment, I make use of my kitchen table as my office space. I keep all my notes and reference materials there. I also have things that inspire me, such as a framed photo of my parents, a writing certificate I received, and a copy of a magazine with one of my short stories published in print. I write better when I see things that inspire me.

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