How to Create the Perfect Writing Space

June 13, 2024 | 3 min read

Writing spaces are intensely personal things. We all have a place — maybe even more than one — where we love to write. If we're lucky, we get to arrange it just the way we like it.

The key is to create a space that helps you focus and inspires you. Because that's the ideal writing space: whether it's a fixed point in your house, or a setup that travels with you, the point of this space is not to be pretty or professional, or to impress others or look good on social media. The point is to provide an ambience that gets you in the mood to write.

Of course, what that looks like depends on the sort of person you are and what works for you. So much of setting up a writing space that helps you focus is about knowing yourself personally.

For me, I have a desk facing a window, where I can look out in front of my house. It’s a standing desk so that I can stretch and stand when I want to. I also have a ridiculously expensive chair that helps keep by back from getting sore while I'm sitting.

Bryan Young's Workspace

Bryan's Workspace

Some writers find windows too distracting, so their space is more easily hacked by facing their desk toward a wall. Stephen King counseled that writers put their desks in the corner of the room:

“Every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.”

Making sure the ergonomics and lighting are right is important, too. Ergonomics doesn’t just apply to the keyboard you use. Make sure your desk is at the right height and you’re not hurting yourself as you do your work. Stretch and stand often.

Make sure the lighting in the room allows you to see what you’re doing without eye strain but also is conducive to your creativity. For me, warm Edison lights seem to work when sunlight is absent. Sometimes, early on winter mornings, candlelight keeps me writing in my journal.

Freewriter @nok2da's Workspace
Freewriter @nok2da's Workspace

Keeping the temperature comfortable is also vital. If you’re worried about being too hot or too cold, you’re not thinking about your writing.

Clutter on your desk is another thing that varies by writer. Personally, I can handle clutter on my desk, the bones of the last few projects and the random business cards of my last couple of appearances — to a certain point. After that point, I can't focus, and I have to clean the whole thing off just to start my clutter collection all over again. The difficult thing is recognizing when it’s the clutter inhibiting my productivity and not something else affecting me and causing me to procrastinate.

Sometimes, switching your workspace altogether will add novelty to your routine and allow you to focus on work with a slight change of pace. That coffee shop, bar, or library might be the perfect office-away-from-the-office for you to meet your next deadline. 

Freewriter Annie Cathryn's Workspace

Freewriter @msanniecathryn's Workspace

Your digital workspace is important, too.

There are lots of things you can do to help increase focus and productivity with the digital tools you use. The legendary comics writer Brian K. Vaughan once said,

"Writer's block is just another word for video games."

Delete all of the game apps from your phone. Close apps like Discord or Slack and set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode. For me, the best thing to do is to switch howI’m writing. To switch my method of input.

My Freewrite is how I draft my novels, precisely because it gives me a distraction-free workspace. If I am struggling with a particular scene, I might do that day's work with pen and paper. Or my typewriter. Switching howyou’re writing will activate different parts of the brain and keep you moving forward instead of checking the same three websites over and over and over again in a constant loop for days on end.

Most importantly, discover which hacks work for you. Experiment.

Trial and error is the best way to figure out your ideal workspace for your creative process.

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Bryan Young is an award-winning podcaster, journalist, filmmaker, fiction and nonfiction author, and founding editor of Big Shiny Robot! Bryan has written in the official Robotech, BattleTech, Star Wars, Shadowrun, and Doctor Who universes, and teaches writing at conferences across the U.S. and at the University of Utah.

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